Day­time is curl­ing time in Sud­bury

The Sudbury Star - - SPORTS - RANDY PAS­CAL

Look­ing to catch some curl­ing ac­tion in the Sud­bury area?

One could fully un­der­stand why most ca­sual fans of the sport might ven­ture out on any week­night, or per­haps on the week­end, to any one of the five lo­cal clubs, hop­ing to stum­ble across a venue that is host­ing at least a hand­ful of curlers par­tak­ing in any one of the weekly leagues.

The truth, how­ever, is that you might have al­most as good a chance of find­ing the ice in use dur­ing the day­time, Mon­day to Fri­day. While pen­sion­ers leagues, across the board, are cer­tainly the most preva­lent, they are not the only folks to take ad­van­tage of the qui­eter times. Nor are they nec­es­sar­ily the most well es­tab­lished.

Hav­ing just re­cently cel­e­brated her 75th birth­day, the still quite ac­tive and much younger-look­ing Di­ane Bell sug­gested that her start in the Idyl­wylde Day­time Ladies League dates back to circa 1974. It was the next log­i­cal step in mov­ing along an affin­ity for curl­ing that was smit­ten a decade or so ear­lier for the orig­i­nal na­tive of Massey.

“I started to curl in high school in Es­panola,” Bell rem­i­nisced. “We had mixed curl­ing. When I met John (who was to be­come her hus­band for years to come), he was al­ready a curler. He went to the school­boys (Cana­dian school­boys curl­ing cham­pi­onship) and all that route. He was very com­pet­i­tive, but I didn’t get into that side of it for a few years.”

Once that time came, Bell was a main­stay in lo­cal curl­ing cir­cles, at­tend­ing mixed bon­spiels with her hus­band, curl­ing in the in­ter­me­di­ate ranks with Sheila Ross, even­tu­ally head­ing off to se­nior na­tion­als in Saskatchewan as part of the Jan Pula rink.

“Once my kids went to school, I got into curl­ing here,” she said.

“We had a great pro­gram. We had in­ter-city com­pe­ti­tions with other clubs, and all of the bon­spiels that went on. Every­body was curl­ing then, it was a lot of fun. Now, I’m ba­si­cally just play­ing for fun.”

That, of course, is due in part to the in­volve­ment of Fa­ther Time, though Bell sug­gested that the in­ner fire is never com­pletely ex­tin­guished.

“I am very com­pet­i­tive, I like to win,” she said. “What pushed me on, at my age, is watch­ing the Anne Bouf­fards and Terry Mosses, and all of the new tech­nol­ogy. It’s a great place to learn, to keep your­self up to date. I was there at one point, but I am not there now.”

With years of in­volve­ment, Bell has seen some shift­ing in the field of curlers she joins ev­ery Tues­day at the club.

“We’re get­ting a lot more re­tired peo­ple com­ing in, but then again, peo­ple are re­tir­ing ear­lier, it seems,” she said. “And the stick curl­ing is al­low­ing peo­ple to curl for longer pe­ri­ods. A lot of the new curlers are even be­ing in­tro­duced di­rectly to the stick and they feel com­fort­able with it.”

That is just the type of state­ment that will make Anne Bouf­fard smile. Head­ing into her third year as league pres­i­dent, and 13th sea­son as a curler in the group­ing, she is fully fix­ated on one par­tic­u­lar pri­or­ity with her job.

“The chal­lenge we have had re­cently is re­cruit­ing new mem­bers,” noted the woman who also dou­bles as head coach of the Sacre Coeur Grif­fons high school curl­ing team.

“We are an ag­ing group, so since I have be­come pres­i­dent, that has been my whole push. We’ve had some suc­cess with our bring-a-friend pro­gram. This year, we re­cruited seven new mem­bers.”

Bev Tarini was just such a new­bie one year ago. Well, per­haps not a com­plete new­comer to the sport.

“I went to Lockerby and curled here in high school, but that was the last time that I curled un­til last year,” noted the 62-year-old league sopho­more. “Well, I did curl the oc­ca­sional bon­spiel over the year.”

“But curl­ing was a lot dif­fer­ent back then. For starters, we used to pick up the rock (to throw it), now we don’t, and I’ve never used a slider be­fore.”

Re-in­tro­duced to curl­ing cour­tesy of fel­low club mem­ber Jo-Ann Basso, the same woman who was teach­ing her Span­ish lessons, Tarini has also em­braced one other facet of the new tech­nol­ogy of her now weekly pas­time.

“I used to be so scared of fall­ing when I de­liv­ered the stone, but now I can curl with the stick,” she said. “It’s taken the fright out of curl­ing, for me.”

This year, Tarini has been was one the most suc­cess­ful mem­bers at bring­ing along friends for her Tues­day out­ings, in­tro­duc­ing three new curlers to the league, all on her own.

“It’s a so­cial thing, it’s ex­er­cise, you’re do­ing some­thing and hav­ing fun,” she said. “It’s all good.”

“The ladies are all very help­ful,” Tarini con­tin­ued. “I had to con­cen­trate on one thing at a time, be­cause ev­ery­one is of­fer­ing ad­vice. It’s not go­ing to come the first or sec­ond game, but by the fourth or fifth game, you’re get­ting into the swing of it. And I re­ally no­ticed a dif­fer­ence be­tween this year and last year. I’m bet­ter this year, a lot bet­ter.”

Com­ing on strong

Speak­ing of play­ing bet­ter, the Tracy Fleury rink picked a nice time to un­veil some of their best curl­ing of the young sea­son. Com­pet­ing in the Tier I event of the Grand Slam of Curl­ing Tour Chal­lenge in Thun­der Bay this week, Fleury and her Man­i­toba rink of Se­lena Nje­go­van, Liz Fyfe and Kristin MacCuish posted a flaw­less 4-0 mark in pool play, ad­vanc­ing to a quar­ter-fi­nal matchup Sat­ur­day at noon against Darcy Robert­son of Win­nipeg.

Over in the Tier II draw, the Tan­ner Hor­gan quar­tet (Mark Kean, Ja­cob Hor­gan, Maxime Blais) have safely se­cured a spot in the fi­nal eight, cap­tur­ing three of their four games in pre­lim­i­nary round play. Team Hor­gan bounced Mark Bohn of Win­nipeg (8-6), Amer­i­can An­drew St­opera (7-4) and Glen Muir­head of Scot­land (6-5).

In women’s Tier II ac­tion, the Kira Brun­ton ju­nior ladies rink (Me­gan Smith, Mar­cia Richard­son, Kate Sherry) fin­ished at 2-2 and re­main alive in a bevy of tie-break­ers, tak­ing to the ice Fri­day night at 7 against Kris­ten Streifel of Regina.

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