“We do not remember days, we remember moments” (Cesare Pavese)
My family’s passion for curling was sparked by a Saturday evening in 2014 when the Pinty’s Elite 10 came to Fort McMurray, Alberta. We enjoy attending community events and this was an opportunity to take our young sons, then 7 and 9 years old, to watch professional curlers compete. Prior to a game Brad Gushue came out with two shirts and gave them to our boys. Ironically, they were probably the only two kids in the entire venue without any family ties to Newfoundland! This kind gesture from Brad and the other players of the Gushue team sparked an interest in the game of curling that continues within our family.
The following winter, the boys started in the Little Rocks program at the Fort McMurray Oilsands Curling Club. They loved it and we enjoyed watching them play.
After a couple of years, the boys were looking for more curling time and wanted to play in the adult league but this meant finding a team that would take on younger players. We decided to help our kids get more opportunities to play by becoming a family team in our curling club’s recreation league. My husband had some experience curling but I had none, and, for the most part, I have learned to play from the boys.
Six years as a family team has had its challenges and its rewards. In the early days there was a lot of bickering between the boys and the occasional ‘benching’ when one needed a bit of cooling off time. As the years have gone by and the boys have matured and have gained more experience in their game, their play is more strategic and there is far less arguing and blaming. They are very patient with me as I continue to develop my game at a slower pace while they have refined much of theirs.
Curling has provided our family with many things – exercise, connection to a community of great people, and a fun recreational activity to do on the cold, dark evenings of the Northern Alberta winter. The boys have learned the importance of their contributions as club members and often step up as volunteers helping with the juniors program, supporting the planning for bonspiels and lending a hand to the club Ice Technician as needed.
Most importantly, curling has given us two hours a week of focused, technology-free, family time on the ice where we connect with each other. We have had our frustrating moments along the way, with arguments over which would be the best shot and what weight to throw, but the positives have outweighed those little annoyances.
This may be our last year as a family team as our oldest son is graduating high school and will be moving away for college. Both boys love to curl and I am certain they will continue into adulthood both competitively and recreationally. I will miss our times on the ice together as our family team of four, the good games and the frustrating ones, as these are moments that will be cherished memories.
By Merrie-Rae Mitsopoulos
Oilsands Curling Club, Fort McMurray Alberta