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My Curling Story

My Curling Story by Luba Tasevski

How it all began:

One Saturday morning when I was about 8 or 9 years old, I wake up and made my way to the living room where my older brother was watching tv. I didn’t know what he was watching so I just jumped on the couch next him because I loved spending time with my big brother. Once the commercials where over curling comes on. Not wanting to watch curling at all because I thought curling was soooo boring, I started to get up and leave. My brother then grabbed and pulled me down back on the couch. As I struggled to get away, as I really didn’t want to watch curling, he says to me “give it 10 minutes, I will explain the rules and if you still don’t like it you can go”. I agreed to these terms. I don’t know if it was how he explained the rules, the fact that I was understanding them (lol) or if it was just bonding with my brother but I fell in love with curling.

For the next 20 or so years every year my brother and I would watch the Scotties and Brier together. We would talk strategy and talk about how teams were doing that year as we watch great match after match and great shot after great shot. Even when we no longer lived together in our childhood house, we would still call/text “hey did you see that shot”, “did you see the Canada vs Manitoba game”?

For years we watched great curlers like Colleen Jones, Jennifer Jones and Rachel Holeman lay the groundwork and change the landscape of woman’s curling.

A Tradition is Born:

In 2013 the Scottie were being held in Kingston Ontario and my brother, as a birthday gift, asked me if I wanted to go. With an enthusiastic YES the trip was planned and we attended opening weekend of our first Scotties. I remember going into the KRock for the first time, seeing the ice live and the players warming up and I was smiling ear to ear. I will never forget the first set of matches as the sheet right where we were seated was team Nova Scotia, Colleen Jones’s team. I was a huge Colleen Jones fan and loved how her team changed how woman’s curling was played, she was a true champion. Watching her win 5 of her 6 Scotties getting to see her team play live was a dream come true.

That weekend in Kingston was sooooo cold, negative 15 (negative 25 with the wind-chill) and I remember one match I was so cold that even being bundled up, toque, gloves, big winter jacket plus using my brothers jacket as a blanket and my brother bring me hot chocolate after hot chocolate trying to get warm and I just couldn’t. I will never forget that game as my brother laughed so much on how cold I was, plus watched great curing.

After such a wonderful weekend, that I wished could have lasted a little longer we were on the train headed home. Whilst we traveled, my bother working on his computer and me just starting out the window smiling as I reminisced on the great weekend we had, my bother stops, looks at me and asked me if I had fun. To which I responded Yes. He then asked me if I wanted to do this every year to which I screamed out YES!!! A tradition was born.

An Unfortunate End:

After attending 6 Scotties and 1 Roar of the Rings (the Olympic Trials that year) we were set to go to our 7th Scotties. In 2019 my brother and I attended the Scotties in Sydney, Nova Scotia. During what ended up being almost 30 plus hours in travel to get there; we were on a shuttle from Halifax to Sydney and there was a woman who asked us what brought us to Sydney. I told her the story of how my brother got me into curling and that we go every year together. I told her how we would be doing this until we were old and gray. Not knowing that it would be our last.

2020 hits and COVID shuts down the world and sport have no attendance. 2021 still no one can watch live. Then finally after a few lost years its announced that the people can attend the Scotties again. Our hotel was book, the flight was book and tickets for Championship Weekend were purchased. We were both super excited to be going again. Then unfortunately about two months before we were to go my brother passed away suddenly and unexpectedly.

A New Tradition Begins:

When my brother passed away my heart broke and will most likely forever have a piece missing. I was not able to attend that year for obvious reasons. As I struggle to heal from this loss I think back to my brothers funeral and when I was introduced to some of his colleagues and the first thing they talked about when they found out I was his little sister was how much he talked about our brother and sister curling trips. They told me it was all he could talk about weeks leading up to and for weeks after the trip. They talked about how excited he was to go. Hearing those words made me both cry but also smile knowing how much my brother not only loved this tradition but also how much he loved me.

With the encouragement of family and friends telling me that he wouldn’t want me to stop doing something I loved so much I will once again be attending the (2024) Scotties . With my hubby by my side a new curling tradition will begin. I will never forget the thousands of memories over the year with my brother, I am looking forward to creating new ones with my partner, who happens to love curling just as much as I do.

This is my curling story.

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L’amour du sport et comment il m’a aidé

I started into curling in my late teens first by watching and than volunteering with different events. When I was younger I didn’t have many friends in school and was very shy. I started curling of and on in my home community in parts of junior and high school in my home community of O’Leary eventually graduating and being home and always wanted to wtch events. Few years after grauduating moved to Summerside and didn’t curl first year but that first year I was around the club and the club had a couple national events that year and meant some great friends still today friends with. Next year starting curling and at one of the events was asked if I be interested in doing some livescoring for some events and this is where things started getting busy and loved doing it. From provincials to some national events cashspiels I would spend my free time going throughout province helping out even some outside PEI and still do it and loving and it’s brought to different events in the maritime and country with some help to watch. Sovereign meeting some many people I have been more confident and willing to help out wherever. Even though not curling more due to be busy with a job that many have helped me get took me awhile b3cause of some learning issues and being busy scoring and watching. Love the game and will continue to help out and go watch wherever. Thanks. Amanda Bulger Summerside, Prince Edward Island

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Le curling, c’est l’amour

Our story goes back to 2002.
I started my curling journey in 1998 at Sydenham Community Curling Club in Wallaceburg ON. I felt an immediate sense of community and instantly fell in love with the game. The club is well known for The Crazy Legs bonspiel. It has drawn attention for over 40 years and is one of the most popular bonspiels for men in Southwestern Ontario. It was there that I met my future husband. As fate would have it, he received a last-minute call asking if he wanted to fill in for someone who had to cancel. He had recently moved to London from the East Coast and had no idea where Wallaceburg was, but he agreed to go. Thank you fate. Thank you curling.
We are celebrating 20 years of marriage this summer. Curling took a backseat over the years while we raised our family. Three kids in competitive sports made for less time on the ice for us. While we couldn’t play as often (a bonspiel here and there), we enjoyed attending any and all events in our city of London ON including The Scotties, The Brier, The Continental Cup, and most recently the STOH-Tankard event in our neighboring community of Dorchester. Three years ago, we were finally able to get back to the sport that brought us together, now playing out of Highland Community Curling Club. I didn’t realize how much I missed it. Our competitive personalities were back, ignoring all of the aches and pains that come with age! Curling is known for its sense of community, belonging and camaraderie. A bad game still ends well as teams gather for beverages and conversation. Friendships are made, and if you are lucky, you may just find your person.
I have a shirt that simply says “curling” with a heart and a curling stone decal. It has two meanings for me: The love of the game, and a reminder of this great sport that brought my husband and I together.

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Une nouvelle curleuse dans la maison

New curler in the house.

My parents were avid curlers. There wasn’t much else to do in Baie Comeau on the wintery north shore of the St. Lawrence in the 1960s. Copper bas-relief plaques of curlers delivering rocks decorated our house, evidence of their participation in regional bonspiels. Their occasional weekends away (we children were farmed out to non-curling parents) were a paradox to me. Much excitement preluded their road trips, signaling good times ahead, but their return was often subdued, whether they won or not. As an adult, I realized their quiet re-entry reflected good times socializing after the games rather than their standing in the bonspiels.

As a child, my memories of watching them on the ice were of boredom and the flappity flap of corn brooms while one adult yelled at the other adults. Their strange, heavy-knit sweaters with crossed brooms on the back only appeared on curling days. I didn’t see the game’s attraction and wondered what allure this practice of throwing rocks with handles on what could have been a perfectly good skating rink held.

My history in sports is limited. As a teenager, I was a strong swimmer (including across Lake Memphremagog one summer camp year) and had a brief interest in badminton. In my twenties, I spent a couple of years learning how to downhill ski at Alta, Utah, and much later, tried cross-country skiing in Canmore. Alberta. There, I had a glimpse of my future when a teenage employee at the Nordic Centre excitedly announced to everyone in the ticket purchase line that I now qualified for their senior rate! I didn’t feel the same joy when I slipped my ID back into my pocket. I had just turned fifty and was under the mistaken assumption I still had 15 years to go. While he processed my pass, I glimpsed my future: Thursdays at Shoppers Drug Mart, early bird specials, winter in Arizona or Florida, eating at 5 p.m., and adding aches and pains to the conversational mix.

Fast forward two more decades, and here I am, a novice curler in Ottawa who couldn’t be happier than when I’m on the ice.
My move back to Ontario after years of enjoying the beauty of Alberta reflected my new status as a grandparent. I continued my corporate career and was lucky to work remotely for several years before Covid made it a norm. I dabbled in orienteering, mainly to discover great places to enjoy nature but used my busy career and eventual switch to contract work as an excuse not to do much exercise except walking.
Things changed in 2022 when I became one of the five women in Canada diagnosed with breast cancer every year. Playing the lottery was never my interest, but here I was, a winner.

What the medical community doesn’t tell you outright is that breast cancer affects you for life. Even after successful treatment, the possibility of a recurrence or lingering cells metastasizing elsewhere is real. There is a profound psychological impact that’s almost impossible for anyone not in the same club to understand.

I focused on learning everything I could about this disease, especially as there was no family history. I attended a support group and met other women, two of whom were curlers. The three of us soon branched off and met weekly for a long walk when we could talk about all things cancer (family and friends soon get tired of this topic.) We felt energized and supported by each other. The conversation sometimes turned to curling, and I’d listen but could not picture myself with a bent knee, sliding gracefully down the ice as my parents did so many years ago.

When I mentioned my doubtful ability to slide from the hack, I learned about the magic of stick curling. One of my Bosom Buddies, as we call ourselves, described how it made the game accessible to those of us with doubtful knees or other challenges. Something deep inside me switched on, and with her encouragement, I joined the Learn to Curl program at the RA Curling Centre of Excellence in Ottawa. Concussion safety is a big focus, and I’m now the proud owner of a dull grey helmet in case I ever check out the ice from an unexpectedly prone position. My granddaughter decided it needed some bling, so it’s now decorated with Maximum 100kms and Slippery When Wet stickers from her collection. I feel protected.

I currently play twice weekly in the women’s daytime draw league and occasionally land a decent shot. My teammates and fellow curlers are kind, patient people who have welcomed me without reservation. Most don’t know I’ve had cancer, nor do I know what ailments they might be facing. Curling is like that – accepting people for who they are, in that moment.

Volunteering at the recent U18 Championship at the RA Centre showed me how curling builds community and connections. Players, coaches, and parents from across the country cheered and supported the competitors and were outstanding examples of fair play, good humour, comradery, and respect for each other. The opportunity to give back through volunteering, even in this early stage of my curling career, has cemented my love for this sport.

When we cleared my parents’ effects after their deaths, none of their curling mementos made the cut. I’m not one to rue the day, but secretly, I wish I had even one of those plaques now. I’d rub it on the way out the door for inspiration and good curling.

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Le curling comme planche de salut sociale

A good friend and former skip of mine once told me, “You’ll always find good people at the curling club.” I never truly appreciated the meaning behind those words until I needed those ‘good people’ the most.
Three years ago, I relocated from Calgary to the Lower Mainland to start a new chapter in my life. The move was one of the biggest challenges and disruptions I had faced. Although I was attempting to redefine myself in a new city, I was completely alone. No friends, no family, no support. Realizing how much the relocation and loneliness was impacting my mental wellness, I turned to curling for solace.
Back in Calgary, I had curled with the same team for years at a variety of clubs across the city. Now I faced the challenge of finding a new club and a team that would accept someone new and unknown. After a bit of research, I discovered that the Port Moody Curling Club was relatively close to where I lived (since I didn’t have a car) and featured a league where they set the teams at the beginning of the season. That format was perfect for me: Sign up and the league would simply welcome me in. I joined and, slowly, I started to get to know my new teammates and the other curlers in that league. The experience was so rewarding I signed up to be a spare for another night despite not knowing anyone in that league.
After a season of travelling to the club once if not twice a week via transit, I decided to move into Port Moody to be part of that community, Being able to now walk to the club (in spite of the West Coast rain), I joined three leagues in my second season and discovered a whole club full of ‘good people’. I truly experienced firsthand how community is built into the fabric of the game. Here I am now, in my third season with the PMCC, playing in four leagues and volunteering on the board of directors. Clearly, I enjoy the sport, but more importantly, I found community and friends in the ‘good people’ at the Port Moody Curling Club.
Starting a new chapter in my life and relocating somewhere new was stressful and challenging. Thankfully, curling became a social lifeline that helped me thrive.

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Une expérience de curling unique – « Bas les balais »

In November 2018, I had the privilege of joining 21 other curling Rotarians from across Ontario in a month-long curling tour of Scotland. We played 19 games in 13 different ice rinks ranging from 8 sheets in a shopping mall, arenas shared with ice hockey and skating, a converted potato storage shed, a curling rink contained within a hotel and a barn transformed into a curling club!

This friendship curling exchange of like-minded members of Rotary has been going back and forth across the “pond” for 68 years. Participants are billeted by Rotarians in each town/city and I found that the home hosting was second to none. Besides great curling, team members visited local tourist attractions including the Kay & Co. Curling Stone factory in Ayrshire where over two-thirds of all curling stones are harvested from the volcanic Isle of Ailsa Craig.

During the tour, competitors were piped on to the ice before every game and the one new tradition that I would like to see incorporated into Canadian bonspiels is “Stacking the Brooms” where at the conclusion of four ends, the teams stand their brooms up using an elastic or glove and each player takes a shot of whisky – any excuse for an extra drink! Although this surprise tradition caught the Canadian curlers off guard and they lost a few points that day, the Canadian team rallied and were victorious over the Scots by a cumulative month-long score of +85 points and brought home the Quaich trophy.

The sport of curling has given me so much joy in the 55 years that I have participated but more importantly, I have made life long friends from near and far.

Brenda Rouse
London Curling Club

(pictured second from left)

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Jouer avec les grands – Cela ne peut arriver qu’au curling

In October 2022, our club had a real treat. Team Mouat came to visit, and we were really excited to meet them. They were charming and friendly to all the club members who came, and we all go to chat, see the Olympic medals etc. I remember thinking that the top curling athletes continue to be accessible to the sport at the club level, and to give back, in a way that happens in no other sport.

And then the unbelievable bit happened. One of our directors asked if they would play a few ends……… and somehow, 20 minutes later, my husband and I ended up as opposing skips on the ice with half of them on each team, along with 2 club members. I had Bruce as my vice and Hammy as my lead, against my husband with Bobby and Grant. We played two unforgettable ends, and team Mouat were great sports throughout.

Only in curling could you show up for your Friday tag draw and end up playing with the soon-to-be world champions!

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Leçons de curling mémorables

It was a hot summer in 2018 in Moncton, NB. While people were outside enjoying the sunshine, I was inside a refreshingly cold curling rink and having a great time! I was at a 5 day long adult curling camp and was extremely excited to meet the guest coaches from Sweden and Norway. World champion, Olympic gold and silver Medalists are some of the accomplishments of curling Pros Niklas Edin and Christopher Svae . For 3 days, they were the guest coaches for us 8 adults and a large group of 10-16 year old youths.
For the on ice portion of the camp, each group played a game, alternating players’ positions, In other words each player got to play Lead, Second, Vice (3rd) and Skip positions. This allowed each attendee to get personal coaching from the Pros. Niklas assisted with the Skip’s strategy and broom placement while Christoffer followed the sweepers and encouraged team communication with the Skip in the house.
Finally it was my turn to be the Skip and get one on one coaching with Niklas. I could hardly contain my excitement. O.M.G. ,WOW, I was IN THE HOUSE with Curling Icon Niklas Edin. This was one of the most surreal moments I’ve ever experienced. I still can’t believe it.
A month later, I briefly attended a curling clinic in Nepean, ON. It was a 3 day clinic and after a smooth start to the morning, it all came to an abrupt halt 5 hours in when the Curling Pros were upstaged by a tornado. It took out one of the two major electrical substations located a few miles from the clinic rink. The tornado eliminated hydro for approximately 3 days and caused a lot of structural damage along its path.
Russ Howard was one of the three visiting Pros conducting the curling clinic. At dinner our phones were buzzing with Alerts of a Tornado Warning. We were barely back on the ice, when the lights and electricity suddenly went out and the emergency lights came on. I still remember hearing Russ Howard loudly announcing LETS GET OFF THE ICE!
Due to the loss of hydro the clinic was unfortunately cancelled. The following year the second attempt of the same 3 day clinic was without incident. This was an awesome and helpful clinic put on by Pros Russ Howard, Marianne Arsenault and Grant Odishaw. They helped critique our delivery technique and reviewed directional sweeping techniques. They also discussed strategy, angles and timing.
This clinic was well worth the wait and gave me the confidence I needed to improve my game. I learned that my last thought in the hack is to think only about the speed I’m giving the rock before releasing it, because I already have the technique to throw and the balance to keep me upright.
The motivation to improve my curling game began in 2016. I noticed how well Grads from the Learn to Curl (L2C) program, which I ironically now help instruct, were greatly improving after 12 weeks of lessons. They had better skills than I had after 10 years of curling without lessons. My competitive nature took over and I started taking curling lessons, from 1 hour up to 5 days. I would repetitively watch Pro Jamie Sinclair ‘s 23 youtube videos giving helpful curling tips. Her Curl Up With Jamie videos have been my go to resource, when I want to work on something specific in my game. I have been recommending her videos to other curlers for years, because they are less than 4 minutes long, straight to the point and great for visual learners like myself.
Last year I was with my teammates at a curling bonspiel in Manotick which happens to be Jamie Sinclair’s home rink. I was recommending Jamie’s youtube videos to one of my teammates when she stopped me in my tracks and enthusiastically stated, look behind you, Jamie’s advertising private lessons. I froze, I was in shock and amazed that I would have an opportunity to take a lesson from someone who inadvertently helped me improve my curling knowledge and skills since 2016.
A month later, I was back in the same rink in Manotick, ON. I was standing beside Jamie Sinclair. What would you like to work on today she said.
I was so excited on the inside but I struggled to stay calm and articulate my goals for my 1 hour lesson.
This was a PINCH ME I’M DREAMING moment. Imagine, I actually got to meet my ultimate Curling Idol and take a private lesson with her. At the end of the lesson I found out what she was thinking when she threw one of the top 50 curling shots of all time. She told me, but psssst it’s a secret.
Nice shot Jamie!!!
Making a nice game changing shot,like Jamie’s, is exhilarating. Who doesn’t love the team energy, adrenaline rush, fist pumps and high fives after a great shot. Whether it’s Plan A or the unexpectedly successful lucky Plan B to Z it’s great to witness and appreciate.
If I didn’t have to work, I would be curling a lot more than my current 3 to 4 times a week. I’ve been a member at Carp, Almonte and currently Carleton Place curling rink. I love to curl and I intend to play for as long as I can.
Happy Curling,
Andrea Smith

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