Canada’s ‘other’ game
Winters in Quebec can seem very long to those who don’t have a winter pastime or sport that they enjoy doing. If your child fits into that category, you might consider encouraging them to give curling a try because, right now,
it’s free for them to join the Border Curling Club’s Junior Program. “It used to cost $20 for children to play the whole season but, because our numbers were low in the Junior Program, we made it free this year,” explained Wilmer Loewen, who has been with the curling program for children at the Beebe club for about eight years. “We had quite a few children in the program at first; from eight to about twenty years old. When their curling skills reach a certain level, they can move on to the adult program,” said Mr. Loewen.
Children usually need to be at least eight or nine before learning how to curl, particularly because the stones are so heavy and require some strength to throw. “The young children get lots of one-onone coaching on the ice and they throw the rocks on a smaller ice,” said the curling coach. The more experienced junior players play full games on regularsized ice.
Children in the Junior Program don’t just practice their skills at the club in Beebe, they also get to take part in bonspiels with juniors from North Hatley, Lennoxville, Danville, and occasionally with students from Stanstead College. “A few years ago we had four of our junior girls make it to the Quebec Games after winning all the tournaments in the region,” mentioned Mr. Loewen with a little pride.
Another bonus for children joining the Border Curling Club’s Junior Program is that all the equipment is provided free of charge. “One of the beauties of curling is that not much equipment is needed. Our club provides the brooms and sliders for the kids in the Junior Program. They just need to bring clean running shoes. They can buy curling shoes when they’re older if they want to.”
“It’s easier for young kids to pick up the skill of curling than it is for adults. When you’re young it’s easier to learn how to make a proper delivery, how to slide properly. We have a lot of seniors in our club who started curling late; some of them use special sticks to throw the rock,” commented Wilmer who learnt how to curl from his father when he was about eleven, back in Saskatchewan where curling is a favourite winter sport.
Some people may find it surprising that young people would take to curling but, after all, fast-paced sports like hockey aren’t for everyone. “When some people watch curling they think it’s boring, but once they try it and see how challenging and difficult it is…it’s a sport that requires a lot of skill. When kids get a chance to master some skills, they find it very enjoyable. And it’s a ‘gentleman’s game’; it helps the children develop good social skills,” commented Mr. Loewen who taught elementary school before he retired.
“Anyone who would like to try out curling is welcome to come over to the Border Curling Club with a parent and check it out,” concluded Wilmer.
The members of the Border Curling Club’s Junior Program meet every Saturday morning, from 10:00 am to noon. For more information or to register your child, call Wilmer Loewen at 819 876-2087.
Curling is a challenging sport to master, and easier to learn when young.
This novice curler in the Border Curling Club’s Junior Program uses a stabiliser to help her learn how to throw the rock.
Junior curlers discuss strategy in the ‘house’.
Junior curling program organizer Wilmer Loewen (left) with his assistant coach Mickey Morelli.
When there’s no snow to play in outside, the curling rink makes for a fun and wintry destination on Saturday morning for the curlers in the Junior Program.