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House Call: They’ve figured it out in Fredericton

Gone are the times when a two-day Learn to Curl clinic is enough to score new members for a curling club.

In Fredericton, they've figured out how to teach new curlers "proper and safe technique." (Photo Michael Burns)

Ed Haggarty, President of the Fredericton Curling Club, realized this five years ago and he’s been capitalizing on it ever since.

Haggarty himself set out to learn to curl in 2005. Unfortunately, the program he would eventually help to develop wasn’t available then. It wasn’t until he met curling instructor Leroy McGinn later in the season that he learned proper and safe technique.

“Prior to [McGinn taking over instruction] the club had a very hit-and-miss approach to Learn to Curl. [McGinn teaches] in a way that’s not intimidating at all,” says Haggarty.

When McGinn later joined the Fredericton Curling Club, Haggarty saw an opportunity to provide new, would-be club members with the same quality instruction he received.

Now, every Tuesday from 7 p.m to 9 p.m. during November and December, new curlers can enjoy beginner classes with McGinn. The cost won’t break the bank either: learners pay either $12 per session attended or $60 for all six sessions.

According to Haggarty, it’s the approach McGinn uses that sells the program.

“You can’t just pick anyone [to run your Learn to Curl program]. The key is that the instructor has to buy in.”

McGinn teaches with a gentle, safe, unintimidating manner. His background as a competitive curler and former physical education teacher gives him credibility and a deeply ingrained understanding of the sport. This keeps the students coming back and Haggarty sees a number of students join the house leagues every season. The most popular league the newbies are joining seems to be the mixed league.

Another market McGinn and Haggarty have tapped into is university students. Fredericton boasts a number of large institutions and in recent years they’ve made sure to offer Learn to Curl classes catering to them specifically.

Tailoring a Learn to Curl program to what the people want is half the battle when it comes to running a curling club, and the Fredericton Curling Club has clearly figured it out.