Swift Cur­rent Curl­ing Club look­ing for new mem­bers and ask­ing for com­mu­nity feed­back

Prairie Post (East Edition) - - News - By Matthew Lieben­berg mlieben­[email protected]­t.com

The Swift Cur­rent Curl­ing Club wants to con­tinue to pro­vide curl­ing as an ac­tiv­ity in the city and is look­ing for ways to at­tract greater in­ter­est in the sport.

The club has launched a com­mu­nity sur­vey to ask for feed­back from area res­i­dents and the sit­u­a­tion was also dis­cussed dur­ing the club’s an­nual gen­eral meet­ing, May 14.

“It’s not just the Swift Cur­rent Curl­ing Club that’s hav­ing a challenge,” Chair­per­son Ron Eichel told the Prairie Post. “It’s ba­si­cally across the coun­try that the num­ber of curlers is de­clin­ing. … We are not im­mune to that by any stretch of the imag­i­na­tion.”

The club cur­rently has ap­prox­i­mately 200 mem­bers and there are a num­ber of dif­fer­ent leagues, in­clud­ing a ju­nior club with about 50 par­tic­i­pants. The club hosts spe­cial events such as school curl­ing, Spe­cial Olympics, com­pany bon­spiels and open nights to en­cour­age par­tic­i­pa­tion. It also pro­vides a home for ex­pe­ri­enced pro­vin­cial, na­tional, world and Olympic-level curlers.

“So we’ve got a very strong curl­ing base here,” he said. “Our num­bers have dropped down. We’ve run a deficit bud­get. For a cou­ple of years with spe­cial events, we’re usu­ally able to bring that right back on track. I would say we have a fu­ture for curl­ing here, for sure. It’s a mat­ter that we want to make sure that the long-term viability is around and in or­der to do that, the same as ev­ery­thing else, you have to have new mem­bers join, or not lose any mem­bers, and we all know that through time there is this at­tri­tion of mem­bers. So we just need to be re­plac­ing num­bers that drop off.”

The club short­ened the 2018-19 sea­son with one month as a cost-sav­ing mea­sure, and it was five months long in­stead of the pre­vi­ous six. The amount of ice time for curlers was not re­duced as a re­sult of this change.

“We haven’t re­duced the amount of curl­ing availabili­ty,” he said. “We do have the opportunit­y to ex­pand more op­por­tu­ni­ties dur­ing the day. So it’s the same with ev­ery­thing when you’re try­ing to run some­thing more ef­fi­ciently. The more us­age you can get from the fa­cil­ity that’s there, then it’s bet­ter for ev­ery­body.”

This change helped the club to re­duce costs, and Eichel an­tic­i­pated that the up­com­ing curl­ing sea­son will again be for a five-month pe­riod.

He did not ex­pect any other changes for the next curl­ing sea­son and the calendar will look very sim­i­lar to what it was for the past sea­son.

“We’re not look­ing at other changes other than if peo­ple want to see a new league added or a new evening, like a new curlers night,” he said. “As far as the leagues that have been in place for a num­ber of years, there won’t be any change there.”

The club is look­ing for new ways to in­tro­duce peo­ple to the sport and to give them an opportunit­y to ex­pe­ri­ence the fun of curl­ing. “One of the ben­e­fits of curl­ing is that you can be at any skill level,” he said. “You can curl at any age, it’s ex­tremely so­cial. … We also do of­fer lessons for peo­ple who want to come out and never curled be­fore, or it’s been a while since they’ve curled. We’ll be quite happy to set up a league for new curlers so that ev­ery­body is start­ing at the same level and learn­ing at the same level.”

The club wants to get feed­back from the com­mu­nity on how they can at­tract new mem­bers, raise aware­ness of the sport and find new de­vel­op­ment op­por­tu­ni­ties for the club. They have there­fore launched an on­line com­mu­nity sur­vey to get peo­ple’s opin­ions.

“We haven’t been overly suc­cess­ful in the past with re­cruit­ment drives,” he said. “We’ve tried that more trial and er­ror. So let’s take a more sci­en­tific ap­proach at it now and get some in­for­ma­tion here and struc­ture things based on some in­for­ma­tion that we can use and be more suc­cess­ful in our re­cruit­ment mea­sures.”

There are two dif­fer­ent sur­veys. The one is aimed at ex­ist­ing and pre­vi­ous mem­bers of the club.

“The idea with that one is what do we have in place that we can im­prove,” he ex­plained. “If you no longer curl, why don’t you curl? Is there some­thing that we can mod­ify, be­cause we want to make it en­joy­able and have as many peo­ple there.”

The goal of the other sur­vey is to ob­tain feed­back from in­di­vid­u­als with lim­ited curl­ing ex­pe­ri­ence and who have not been mem­bers of the club.

“The other sur­vey is for peo­ple that maybe curled very lit­tle, maybe tried it, or never tried it at all,” he said. “What is their per­cep­tion about what curl­ing is, and if they’ve never tried it, why haven’t they tried it and what would en­tice them to come out to try it.”

To par­tic­i­pate in the short sur­vey, please visit https://www.sur­vey­mon­key.com/r/PRG3X62 or the Swift Cur­rent Curl­ing Club’s web­site at http://www.sc­curling­club.ca/.

Photo by Matthew Lieben­berg

Swift Cur­rent Curl­ing League co­or­di­na­tor Don Reimer, who also skips a team, re­leases a stone dur­ing af­ter­noon game, March 4.

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