The next generation of Creston Valley curlers is now in the middle of another season of the Creston Curling Centre’s youth program. And with just a couple of months of practice under their belts, the dozen or so high school students are doing rather well.
“They’re going to be very good curlers,” said coach Doug Hannah. “It’s very rewarding when they’re able to walk out on the ice and fall — they’re not able to do much at all — and after a few sessions they’re out there sliding and sweeping.”
“You see so much change from week to week,” added assistant coach Laddie Pavlis.
But while a couple have curled before, most are new to the sport, so they’re not quite ready to compete just yet.
“We want them to learn to throw a rock, and learn about the game,” said Hannah.
“It’s all been mechanics,” said Pavlis. “We haven’t even talked strategy.”
In learning those basics, the students have been having a lot of fun, and some, including 13-year-old Megan Emary, came with a group of friends.
“We just decided to try curling,” said Emary. “Everyone else knew how to do it.”
She already played volleyball and has trained in archery and gymnastics. The closest thing to curling she’s done was figure skating — simply because they’re both on ice — but curling presented the challenge of multiple techniques.
“It’s like there’s almost a right way,” she said.
“There are different ways to do everything, for sure,” agreed Tyler Powell.
The 15-year-old learned to curl last season, and competed with the youth team. And although he likes golfing and dirt biking in the summer, curling quickly became a favourite winter pastime.
“It’s a good way to get exercise and it’s a fun sport,” he said. “You get to interact with different people. It’s pretty much a sport anybody can do.”
The curling centre’s plan is to make sure that younger kids learn about the sport, and is trying to get a Rocks and Rings program going in local schools, which begins with teaching students in kindergarten to Grade 7, moving them on to junior curling from grades 7-12, and then blending the players into adult teams.
Hannah, who moved to Creston a year ago, appreciates the chance to pass on the skills he’s used since learning to curl as a teenager in Whitehorse.
“We had a husband and wife who gave up their Saturday morning, and the kids just came to the club,” he said. “It takes someone giving up their time.”
The time he’s given to the young curlers has taught them about many aspects of the sport, from balance — “When you slide, your knee isn’t always on the ground,” Emary said — to concentration.
“If you skip, you have to have a lot of faith in yourself,” said Powell. “You’re leading a whole team.”
“It’s probably one of the best sports for teaching kids to be part of a team,” said Pavlis. “They all have specific roles to play, and they all have to learn to work together.”
And it teaches them etiquette, in a sport where honesty is the key to success.
“It’s an honest sport,” said Hannah. “You’re really taught honesty.”
For more information on youth curling, contact Doug Hannah at 250-428-5687 or Laddie Pavlis at 250-866-5634.