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Championship Season – How do they balance family, work and curling?

As I watch our Canadian women’s team in Denmark I can only imagine how difficult it would be to balance everything – family, work, curling and life in general. The unique thing about curling athletes is that they are regular people – high performance sport helps shape their life, but it certainly isn’t their entire life.

Jeff Stoughton at the Tim Hortons Brier

I have the humbling opportunity to head to the World Men’s championship in Regina as an assistant coach with Team Stoughton. I’ll be up in the stands tracking a number of things to try and find any type of advantage as we can. It is interesting talking with these guys as they prepare to get ready as they truly do not have a lot of time between the Brier and the Worlds; the same goes for the women between the Scotties and Worlds.

It would be nice if the funding and structure were there to be able to fully support these athletes – sort of like a NHL for curling. The unfortunate fact is that the amount of sponsorship is just not there. One of the critical components to being a high performance-curling athlete is having a family and job that are both understanding and accommodating. The time off is crazy – it usually means that these athletes run out of holiday time – so no weeks off to head to the lake with the family in the summer.

We bring a lot of our top performers to camp situations to help our younger developing athletes and I keep thinking that one session we should run is ‘How to find a job that allows you to Curl’. I am continually amazed at the creativity and support that various curlers have from their employers. Why would they, you ask?

Think of it… as an employer you can utilize this person as an example of how to shoot for the stars. These curling athletes, if utilized in the right fashion, could be the face of employee moral programs. Imagine giving the office time off to cheer on their fellow employee Reid Carruthers – better yet if he was a full time teacher, giving the students time to cheer on their teacher as he tries to win a world championship medal for Canada!

It is great seeing companies like the Royal Bank of Canada embrace Olympians in their careers. RBC uses these athletes in a way, which in my opinion is perfect. Who better to talk and mentor employees about goal setting and work ethic then a high performance athlete?

This article is more of musing then anything on my part. I am both amazed at the athletes in our sport and slightly frustrated I’m not the President of a large company so I could hire them all… well maybe not all of them as someone would have to stay at the office!

Yours in curling,
Paul