The youth of Oliver are getting swept away by curling.
Through the Oliver Curling Club’s school program, every local student is getting to try out the sport.
Last week, the Grade 6s and 7s from Tuc-el-Nuit Elementary School were at the Eastlink Curling Centre practising for the third time this year.
Despite the students’ limited experience, “They seem to be able to handle it,” says program coordinator Cathy Pidduck. “They have rocks in play, some of them are making plays and we’ve actually had some take-outs.”
Along with other volunteers, Pidduck teaches the students how to play, most of whom had no prior experience.
“We tell them how to put the right turn on their rocks and when to sweep,” she said. “And all the equipment that’s needed we supply – the sliders, the brooms, the grippers and the rocks.”
It didn’t take Grade 6 Parker Johnstone long to appreciate the game.
“Our team, I think we might win,” he said. “We have some good players – Eli’s good at sweeping and throwing it. Jack, he’s really good at sweeping and throwing. And me – I’m just a good skip.”
When asked what makes a good skip, Parker said it’s about knowing where to throw the rock, and then correcting it along the way.
“I can see which way they like to go. For example, Jack likes to go right so the rock spins left. So it’s really functional I would say.”
Throwing the rocks is the funnest part of curling, Parker says, adding that the chances he’ll play again outside of school “are pretty high.”
Fellow Grade 6 Jack Baptiste said curling was kind of hard at first but it became easier with practice. And he’s gained a comfortable understanding of the rules.
“It’s a ton of fun,” he said. “One person throws the rock down the sheet of ice, and then one or two people are supposed to use a broom to make it go farther. And the skip at the end puts his hand out to say which way he wants you to turn it, so that’s how the broom comes into play.”
Ian Scanlon, another Grade 6 from Tuc-el-Nuit, said he never even knew what curling was before his first time trying it.
Although Ian isn’t part of any leagues yet, he says a game of curling can be organized like pick-up hockey.
“You can just get at it,” he said. “You can go on any skating or hockey rink, get some rocks out, throw ‘em and have some fun with your friends.”
By Dan Walton