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Inside Junior Curling: The Mastermind Behind the First Junior Curling Tour

Wes Johnson – a name that you may or may not have heard of, but one you should know about. Johnson has been instrumental in the development of junior curling not only in Ontario, but also across Canada.

Wes Johnson (Photo courtesy D. Inglis)

He’s the mastermind behind the hugely popular website curlingrocks.com and the Ontario Junior Curling Tour (OJCT).

A successful junior curler himself (participated in the 2004 Junior Nationals in Victoria), Johnson started the tour back in the 2003-2004 season following the successful launch of his online curling forum.  At the time, Johnson was assisting with the Ontario Curling Tour (OCT) and thought that it would be great to translate it into a junior version. Johnson approached the organizers of the largest junior spiels in Ontario to ask for their support and received an overwhelming amount.

Points are awarded after every spiel, then posted online for players and fans to follow. Towards the end of the season, the top point-getting teams are invited to compete in the OJCT Championship.

Johnson not only sees the Tour as a way to bring dedicated volunteers and players  together to improve junior curling in Ontario, but also as a way to bridge the gap between junior and adult competitions. He was happy to see that junior curlers adopted this approach right off the bat.

“One of my favourite OJCT memories is the first Tour Championship. It was a good feeling to see the interest from players and volunteers alike. As a junior myself at the time, it was incredible to see the support from my peers.”

A very humble man, Johnson is quick not to take all the credit for the Tour’s success, but rather attribute it to the hard work of past and present OJCT board members, junior spiel organizers and supportive players.

“It’s a combination of many people coming together. It couldn’t survive without the many people giving their time to make these events and the Tour possible.”

The OJCT has been the inspiration for junior tours in Manitoba and Alberta.

“It was incredible when we got the call from people in Manitoba and Alberta wanting to duplicate what we’re doing in Ontario,” says Johnson. “It reinforces what we’re trying to do [for junior curling].”

Though Johnson graduated from the junior ranks years ago, he still has a passion for the development of junior curling. In the future, he plans to maintain involvement and grow the tour even larger in Ontario.

In coming weeks, we will chat with the creators of the Manitoba and Alberta junior curling tours and how their programs have shaped junior curling in the western provinces.

If you have any stories regarding little rock, bantam, junior or school curling that you would like to share, please contact me directly at danielle_inglis@yahoo.ca.

Good curling and may the rocks be ever in your favour!

The Ontario Junior Curling Tour (Photo D. Inglis)