Ensuring the survival of curling in Stettler has led the Stettler Curling Club to create new programs designed to entice youngsters onto the sheet with rock or broom in hand.
For several years, the junior curling club has welcomed in the community’s youth as they throw rocks, with older curlers as mentors to teach them the tricks of a game that looks deceptively easy. This year’s coaches were Barry Jones and Christine Erichsen.
“It’s much more difficult than it looks,” organizer Jacquie Dennis said. She explained that when people view curling from television, or through windows, they’re always able to see a shot from above. For curlers on the ice, though, they have to rely on a straight down-the-sheet look and guidance from their fellow rink-mates.
“Those are skills you learn,” she said. “You learn to read the rocks on the ice, and you learn to trust your teammates.”
With the junior program relatively successful, the Stettler curling organization embarked on a project to lure even younger curlers into the fold. With that, the Learn to Curl program was designed and set into play. And even though it’s only in its second year, results are starting to show.
“We had 27 junior curlers this year,” Dennis said. She attributed the leap in membership to curlers who had tried out curling in the shorter Learn to Curl program the year prior and had made the leap from there and into junior curling.
This year’s Learn to Curl program had 12 curlers, slightly down from last year, and was coached by Erichsen.