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Monday, September 30, 2013

What does my curling team look like again?

The blog is back, baby.

The leaves are turning brown, a brisk chill fills the air and I had to turn the defrost on in my car last week. That can only mean one thing: its curling season.
For some, the season started in August, with a number of competitive summer spiels in Ontario starting in early September.  Officially this is week 7 (!!!) of the competitive curling season. WTF?
I fail to understand why people want to start curling in August and early September. I love curling. But it seems to me our winters are long enough, without having to spend weekends in September in a curling club. What I don’t understand is why competitive curling essentially ends in January (unless you are going to the Brier), but starts in the summer.  

As a matter of fact, I have not even seen my men’s team since January. I don’t even remember what they look like. I will have to carry a team picture around to recognize them.  I remember there was a short guy...a redheaded guy...and..ah screw it ....they will find me. Guys: I am the tall bald guy at the bar wearing a Balsdon shirt.

Our season starts this Friday at home, at Glenmore, in the Indian Summer Bonspiel. Or, I guess, the Native Summer bonspiel...to be politically correct. This is a local spiel, but has attracted a few big teams with the lure of good ice and a decent draw, plus what is a fun atmosphere at Glenmore. Ferly and Phil Lemay are there, as are a few other solid squads – should be a fun weekend. Until I find my legs and get some feel...I will look like Bambi on ice.   

So what is new in the world of Quebec Curling?

On the men’s side, no changes to the top few teams. Menard will stay the same, as they prepare for the Olympic pre-trials in November.
Phil Lemay has his team of increasingly experienced young guys ready for another season of cash spiels.
Martin Ferland has the same team, although they are allegedly playing a very light schedule this year, after playing a zillion spiels last year. These guys played in everything. I think they played women’s spiels in drag. They played in junior spiels. They played in turkey spiels. In the end, they might have burned themselves out.

My team has stayed the same. Steeve Gagnon has stayed the same.

Really, only Bob Desjardins changed teams, experimenting with Fred Lawton and Pierre-Luc Morrissette, Martin Lavoie as Bob tries to convert new followers into the cult of Desjardinism.  Also Francois gagné seems to have picked up a few guys and has a solid team.  

Women’s curling? I have no idea. Check your programs!  Everyone changed teams. I don’t think there will be one returning team at provincials. Don’t ask me for a prediction; except to say that I hope whoever emerges can put on a good show at the Scotties, held in Montreal this year.

Where have all the curlers gone?
This is the time of year where curling clubs roll out the red carpets and welcome potential new members to the game that we love. But it seems that every year fewer and fewer curlers come back, with not enough new blood to fill the ranks.
Why, at a time where the sport achieves record TV audiences as well as Olympic recognition, do clubs have so much trouble getting people in the doors?

A few reasons are always floated:

  • People no longer have time for a sport like curling that takes time away from their families
  • It’s too expensive.
  • It does not provide the physical workout of say....30 minutes in the gym.
  • It is difficult to integrate new members – and they suffer from a steep learning curve.

I don’t buy it. Curling has a lot going for it:

  • Low risk of injury
  • Sport that challenges your mind, as well as your body
  • Sociable! A sport that includes a social life.
  • You can get reasonably good in a reasonable amount of time.

 I think we lack salesmanship. Curling clubs are still mainly volunteer organizations that do not excel in marketing and sales. 

So here is my challenge to you curlers: bring a friend out. Help out your club. Think of that one person you know that would like curling, and would like to hang around a curling club. Bring them out. Buy them a drink.
Second challenge: if you are an experienced curler, and have some time...take a team of newbies into a local spiel or branch event. Show them the most fun part of curling: road trips!


Lastly, Canadian curling men have put out a sexy calendar to raise funds for curling. You can order it at www.menofcurling.com, for $30.

Of course I was asked to pose in the men of curling calendar, unfortunately when I offered to pose with nothing but my "brownie", I think they misunderstood what I meant.