The curling conundrum
Growing up in Harbour Grace, the Curling Club was just a building at the top of the hill from my home at the United Church manse.
I spent barely any time in there and neither did most of my friends. We were more concerned with acting out our hockey fantasies at the S.W. Moores Memorial Stadium at the time.
Not saying it wasn’t a popular place for tho sea bit more advanced in age than we were, but curling wasn’t a sport for us.
To be honest, we found it boring and pointless. But, that’s what comes with not understanding something.
You can’t really get into it if you don’t know anything about it.
In the early 90s, curling was something you might see on television two or three times a year. You might take a glimpse at curling when the Scotties or the Brier were on TSN or if it was an Olympic year.
You certainly didn’t jam yourself into a rink somewhere to watch a group of men or women hurl stones down a sheet of ice and chase after them with brooms.
The exposure just wasn’t there for it to make an impact within my circle of friends. Again, I was probably 10 at the time, and like most 10-year-olds, hockey was king.
Don’t get me wrong, there were a group of young people who decided to pick up a broom at the curling club. Jamie Korab got into the sport between 1993 and 1994.
We all know how that turned out.
In its heyday, Harbour Grace was hailed as one of the larger centres for the sport outside St. John’s. By all accounts, numerous tournaments were held there since it opened in 1979 and a couple of championship rinks came from Harbour Grace.
But for whatever reason, local enthusiasm for curling started to drop off in the late 90s. Somewhere along the line, people started to lose interest in a sport that is Canadian through and through.
The town took over control of the club in the early 2000s, renaming it the Rec Plex. It was designed to be a recreational hub for the community, but it never got there. It lost money and the volunteer base dried up. Finally, the club closed in 2003. The saddest part of this is it could be a different story today. With the amount of curling on television, there’s a chance local interest in the region could have bounced back. Sports fan know the faces and the names that go along with them in the curling world nowadays.
Korab won his gold medal in Torino, Italy in 2006. Curling exploded in this province, but there was no place locally to play. Imagine what could have been if the powers that be had held on for three more years.
Of course, there was no way to predict the boom that came with that.
There are still a couple of centres — namely Whitbourne and Placentia — that have curling clubs, but there is nothing in Conception Bay North. It’s a shame really. Here’s hoping the new rink in Harbour Grace can help fix that.