It’s Never Too Late!
Growing up in small town Saskatchewan, we didn’t have much choice in what winter sports we could play. Hockey or curling. I chose hockey but something about the game of curling intrigued me. I was a fan of the game but didn’t know why or even how to play it.
In January 1997 I had the opportunity to move to Nagano, Japan to start a teaching job at a language school where I would teach French, English and Portuguese. Our school was tasked with teaching English to some of the volunteers that would be heading various sport venues for the 1998 Winter Olympics. Since I was the only Canadian there, they asked me to take over the hockey and curling classes. I had played hockey as a kid but never curled and I was already at that time an avid watcher of curling on TV. This knowledge along with some materials supplied by our school through the IOC, I felt more than comfortable teaching my students the classroom ins and outs of curling: terminology, rules, strategy, etc. We had rocks on a table and would simulate game scenarios. My students were great and they become huge fans of curling in the years to follow. I later returned to Canada and in 1998 watched my home province hero, Sandra Schmirler, bring home gold from Nagano. What a historic win.
Fast forward to 2000 where I was living in Saskatoon working as a full time musician. We were asked to perform the national anthem at the Brier for the beginning of one of the draws. We watched a couple of games that day. It was my first time hearing Russ Howard live and in person. Wow. I also made my first visit to the Patch and it was everything I had been told it would be. And then some. The curling community seemed like one I could easily fit into. In the following 20+ years I watched every curling event on TV that I could. Loved it.
In 2010, we were at the Winter Olympics in Vancouver as part of the opening ceremonies. When we were asked what event(s) we might want tickets for, I jumped at the curling tickets. We watched our Canadian men and women for a couple of days. What an experience that was. We had already left Vancouver by the time Kevin Martin won gold but you could hear a roar from coast to coast.
Finally, fast forward to the fall of 2022. I’ve been living in Pembroke, ON for the past 20 years now. Still a huge watcher of curling on TV. Still had never set foot on the pebbled ice. That all changed when my wife and I decided to join our local curling club’s Adult Learn to Curl Program in October. I was hooked the second I walked out onto the ice. The sound of the players sliding out of the hack, the swish of the brooms, the click of stones in the house. Everything. Everything about it caught my breath. I was finally here. Since that first lesson a few months ago it seems like I haven’t left the curling rink. Our house is 2 minutes away so I play as often as I can. The social gathering after games or during special events is just as much fun. We volunteer at the bar. My wife and I (pictured) just recently volunteered for the curling events at our Ontario Winter Games. I was timekeeper for men’s & ladies U18 as well as the U20 mixed doubles. The curling was fantastic. My only wish? I should have started sooner. Good curling!