I moved to my husband’s hometown of Paris, Ontario in 2013. When we toured the house we were buying, I could see the curling club from the back deck so suggested we join. It had been seven years since I had curled, having started when I was 10 but not having been on the ice since high school. My husband approached it as a good middle ground of “his town” and “my sport”, but it had been years so I willingly signed up for the Learn to Curl Program. The activity came back to me pretty quickly so I had three glorious weeks of instruction where I was better than him, but he surpassed me shortly after that, getting really into the strategy of the game, and timing rocks, sweeping strategy, etc. For me though, what I loved was the sportsmanship of the game.
I love during a game how people will compliment each other’s shots, how at a Friday Night Mixed game, you may not even put up the score, it is really just for fun. After the game, win or lose, you’re up in the lounge sitting around the table with the 3 people you just played with the four you played against. When we joined the club, we didn’t know anyone, but if I ever felt out of place at the Paris Curling Club, I don’t remember that time. Instead I have so many memories of meeting the most interesting people that I would not have otherwise. To take a step back and see the group in the lounge is always fascinating with so many stories, and jobs and experiences. Being a small town club, we lack some diversity, but are trying to work on that! For now I still enjoy being able to sit at a table with a farmer, an engineer, a university administrator, a factory worker, a salesperson or funeral home director. This meeting of new people and hearing about their lives has always been something I have enjoyed about curling because I feel that I wouldn’t have met these people otherwise.
Last fall one of our members was killed by a driver while out riding his bike.
Tom was a quiet man who liked to drink room temperature water after a game. Everyone called him “T-Line Tom” for his skill at a deadly draw in a game, which always made Tom bashful. Tom was a fascinating guy, he flew small planes and owned antique cars, he liked riding his bike and used to drag race cars. He was the kind of guy with great stories, but you only heard them if you asked, and where else could you get that chance than around the table in the lounge after a game?
During my 10 years at the Paris Curling Club, I have known other members that have passed away, some like Tom, earlier than they should have, but there was something with Tom that stuck with me and how appreciative I should be for the opportunity to get to know him and others at the Paris Curling Club.
I lead our Learn to Curl Program now, so when I started off this session this winter, I welcomed them to our club, and I asked all 50+ of them what they did for a living, remarking on the commonalities and differences in the room. And I told them about Tom. I told them that over the next 7 weeks we would teach them to curl, but also hopefully bring them into our community at the Paris Curling Club, we’d be lucky to have them, but that they should see the club as their community and a place to get to know new people.
The Paris Curling Club is my community. They are the people I laugh with and lean on, and the people I am lucky to get to know.
The picture I have included is from a charity bonspiel hosted at our club in 2017 where Tom, on the far right played with my husband Shawn to his left, Jeff V. and Jeff C. An engineer, a plant manager, an agricultural salesman, and a former drag car racer.