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Around the House: The season is coming! The season is coming!

Depending on where you curl and how your club is set up, it’s likely that autumn signals (a) the start of the school year and (b) the beginning of your curling season.

Some lucky curlers live in communities where the club runs all year round. A quick search on the Internet brings up all sorts of clubs who use the summer for camps and competitive leagues. For these curlers, the summer action isn’t at the beach, it’s on the ice.

But for many of us, summer is a no-curl zone. April brings the closing bonspiel. The Scotties and Brier are done, and on the international stage, the World Championships are over. The broom, gloves and slider get filed away in the closet for a well-deserved rest. We gear up for golf or biking or other summer activities. The lights over the curling ice go dark.

And then August rolls around with those cool nights that hint at a change just around the corner. One day the envelope or email arrives with your club membership reminder and newsletter. Yikes! Better get working on those stretches that John Morris recommends in Fit to Curl. Better check in with the team to see if they’re still good with Monday Night Mixed – or is it time for a change? Time to go competitive? Is this the year to step it up – or down? Maybe the Wednesday Social League will provide a change of pace and a chance to meet some new people. This might be the year to volunteer for the Junior Program on Sunday afternoons or lead some Learn-to-Curl clinics.

Curling is back on your map.

So, club curlers, here are a few questions to ponder as the curling season approaches. Consider these ideas as you’re heading off to the 19th hole, packing up the car for the drive home from the cottage on Labour Day Weekend, or shepherding the kids (or yourself) around the mall searching for school supplies. Summer is over, Autumn is here. Are you ready for your season of curling?

1. Are you fit?

Have you spent an active summer? I hiked up the Midnight Dome in Dawson City and rode my bike around my very hilly Guelph neighbourhood most days, so I’m feeling pretty strong. How about you? Real workouts with weights, stretching and cardio? Cutting the grass? Extreme kayaking? Regular rounds of golf or games of tennis? Curling is a deceptively physical game (we’ve always known that, even if some of the unconverted out there haven’t figured out how much effort it takes to sweep a rock from hack to house). You need to be fit. Are you?

2. Have you got room in your schedule?

This isn’t an issue for everyone, perhaps, but for some of us, making it to the 6 o’clock draw on Monday night can be a bit harried. Add in travel time from work or home, the necessity of eating something before playing 8 ends after a long day at work, and the family factor, if you’re a parent, (or cows to milk, if you’re a farmer) and you’ve got a challenge.  Early games can be tricky enough, but those late games can be just as difficult for people who need their eight hours of sleep. Look at your club’s league schedule. Maybe there’s a night that would work better for you. Or maybe it’s just one of those challenges you’re willing to accept, because playing with those three friends in that particular league on that night is what your curling life is all about.

3. What are your goals?

It’s never too late to approach your game the way the pros do: set goals, and work towards them. Want to win the club championship? Get your team on board and go for it. Want to skip for the first time? Get some supportive friends together and put your name in for that league or bonspiel. Want to improve your sweeping technique? Attend a clinic or ask one of your experienced curling colleagues to give you some tips. Whatever your goal is, set an objective and work towards it. There’s nothing more satisfying in life than meeting challenges we’ve set for ourselves. Curling offers tons of opportunities to do just that.

So roll on September, and October, and beyond. The curling season is here, and we are ready.

This week’s burning question: How does your club celebrate the start of the curling season?  Let me know at jrmills@rogers.com