The sport of curling seems to be on the right track if the Learn to Curl program at Red Deer’s Pidherney Centre is any indication.
If you head down there on a Monday or Wednesday evening you will see plenty of evidence of the growth the sport is seeing in the region.
“Two years ago I had about 115 kids Monday and Wednesday,” said Youth Curling Coordinator Steve Williams. “Monday was just big rock and Wednesday was just ‘Lite Rocks’. Last year I had 175; this year I’ve got 178.”
The new recruits to the game start with the basics of curling which includes the sweeping, throwing and on-ice etiquette.
For some of them it’s the first time on the sheet after watching the game with grandma and grandpa or maybe with an older brother or sister but they are picking up the game quickly, he said.
“When I was in high school, we were on our knees and everything like that. There’s a lot of these kids where it’s their second time out and they’re sliding out almost like a professional.”
Nine-year-old Jaden Morlock said he watched his older brother play and that was enough to get him suited up and onto the ice.
“Well it just looked fun and I tried it once and it was really fun,” he said.
He said the coaches are very encouraging and he appears to have the basics down about how to deliver the stone as much as a nine-year-old could have at this point.
“All you really have to do is just hold the rock and the broom, push back and then you’re sliding and you just let go of the rock and it just goes.”
There are plenty of what Williams referred to as secondary coaches out on the ice each night for the kids to learn from and he says those are not just any people out there.
“They’re people who have gone through the program that come out and give back, where they come out and help the new coaches for two or three weeks learn about what they should be teaching the kids.”
The reward for the players and coaches is seeing a shot made after some practice has been put in, said Williams.
“Oh definitely, that’s the biggest thing, something clues in and it’s ‘Oh , that’s how you do it’.”