In 2014, the Canadian Seniors Championship was hosted in Yellowknife, NWT. There were 14 senior ladies teams and 14 senior mens teams in the event. This was in the days that there was still relegation.
I was part of the officiating crew for the event. There were 8 umpires in the crew from NWT, Yukon, and Alberta. We were all so excited about being chosen to be part of this event – the first national championship being held in the NWT. It was held in the Yellowknife Community Arena and the Yellowknife Curling Club. You’ve heard of the Brier Patch and the Scotties Heartstop – well in Yellowknife they had the Polar Vortex to quench the thirst of the athletes, coaches and fans.
All went well initially. The officiating crew arrived with the athletes from across the nation and checked into our hotel. The first three days we held the relegation round which unfortunately meant three teams of each gender had to travel home and only the winning team got to stay. We all bid the six departing teams a sad farewell. This is when the wheels fell off the bus. There had been a mix-up with the rooms for the two teams who were staying and they didn’t have any rooms booked to stay for the remainder of the event. Yellowknife was also hosting two other major conferences and there was no room in the manager.
What to do? Oh! look and there were 8 hotel rooms the officials are staying in (exactly the number they needed for the teams without rooms). Fortunately, Don had a three-bedroom house – goody – let’s put the officials in there. Graciously, his wife and their dog moved out, our officiating crew gave up their hotel rooms, and moved into Don’s house for the next nine days. After all, the stars of the show are the athletes. Officials can always be counted on to do whatever to help out.
Marg, Cheryl and I were in the master bedroom – two in the king-sized bed and one on an air mattress on the floor. We had to be very careful not to step on Cheryl in the mornings. Each of the other ladies, Wilma and Diane, were in the two bedrooms upstairs. There was one bathroom for the ladies. Can you imagine five ladies trying to get ready each morning in one bathroom? A schedule was quickly devised, and we somehow made it work. Jim and Don agreed to sleep in the den with one on the couch and one on an air mattress. The other fellow, Tom, slept on an air mattress in the dining room so he could have bed AND breakfast. The three guys shared the bathroom downstairs as they didn’t have to worry too much about hair and makeup.
It was a tight squeeze. As we were at the arena and curling rink all day officiating, it was only in the evening that we were all there at the same time. We were very resourceful and everyone took on a task for our evening debriefs. These included bartending, snack provider, dishwasher, and wait staff. Best refreshments ever and, of course, lots of chocolate. Had many laughs at our predicament. After the debrief we had entertainment – rookie night was a highlight. Don and Jim provided an Eagles concert every night as we prepared for bed. The team bonded very well.
Finally, on Monday, we all travelled home. Don, his wife, and their puppy Casey, happily moved back in.
Unusual but so many wonderful memories. It is just one more example that you meet the best people in curling.
By Janie Hobart, Fort Smith, NWT