Canada’s ‘other’ game

Stanstead Journal - - FRONT PAGE - Vic­to­ria Vanier, Stanstead

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.

photo cour­tesy Wilmer Loewen

Ju­nior curlers dis­cuss strat­egy in the ‘house’.

photo cour­tesy Wilmer Loewen

Ju­nior curl­ing pro­gram or­ga­nizer Wilmer Loewen (left) with his as­sis­tant coach Mickey Morelli.

photo cour­tesy Wilmer Loewen

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.

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