Pebbles to Boulders: Other Equipment
For the last two weeks we have been talking about the rocks our Little Rockers have used and are currently using in our curling clubs. Other curling equipment for personal use is necessary and some these have evolved over the years like the rocks.
Our kids are not blind, for they see what the curlers on TV or Mom and Dad are wearing when they curl. The kids want to look like real curlers, and sometimes the gear has to be scaled down to work or fit properly.
Ever try to find a pair of curling shoes for a 6 year old. Not going to happen…. The suppliers do not and will not be making them on mass. Plus, the additional expense for parents with kids who’s growing feet are always changing, it just does not make sense. I suggest taking the time to shop for running shoes that have a good rubber outer sole that will grip the ice surface. When the curling season is over, the running shoes can be used for other activities, maximizing the value. You’ll need to be careful, for some running shoes have plastic mixed in the sole composition, making the shoe slippery when exposed to cold ice surfaces. These runners are to be avoided, of course.
Slip-on grippers have been a terrific product for years in curling. Grippers have not always been around. Like little rock stones, grippers became very popular in the 1980’s, replacing department shoe purchased toe rubbers. The suppliers of grippers do a great job in making available XXS (double extra small) product for the young curlers. Sometimes the XXS gripper is not small enough; hence a good rubber soled running shoe is a wise investment.
Step-on sliders have been a great curling product for those curlers new to the sport. Clubs have bought step-ons and leave them on the backboards for curlers to use. In the case of Little Rocks, the small size product is perfect for the kids, eliminating the need to purchase the time tested slip-on sliders, which the elastic eventually stretches too long or rips. Whether it is a step-on or slip-on, the slider is made of thin teflon, making for a slippery but not too fast sliding surface for new curlers.
I found cycling helmets to be a terrific safety tool for Little Rockers. For the youngest of curlers, the helmet is peace-of-mind equipment for the kids and parents. Until such time when the young curlers become more confident and aware of the ice surface, I suggest a helmet to be worn. I am even seeing these days our most veteran curlers wearing cycling or snow board helmets, just to provide that extra line of safety as they find their stability on the ice not as assured as it once was.
Our equipment defines our sport. No other sport throws rocks like curling, or places sliders on our feet or uses brushes like we curlers. Evolved from the whack-whack of corn brooms to the scrub-scrub of hair brushes to the swoosh-swoosh of synthetic pads, curling brushes define our sport. For best skill development, it is ideal that the brush for Little Rockers be the proper size. An adult brush is just too awkward for the youngsters to use. For years, suppliers have made available smaller sized brushes for the pint-sized curlers, and we thank them for this.
Not just any glove is suited for curling. While we do not get worked up about the proper glove use by the young curlers, we do insist that care be taken to keep their hands warm. Lets face it; a cold curler is not a happy curler… an un-happy curler will not be a curler for long. Gloves or mitts with a leather palms allow for grip on the brush handle for effective brushing. Again, curling suppliers have been very generous to produce curling gloves for the very small hands of youngsters.
Keeping in mind warmth, a curling sweater or jacket is a must. Now almost any bomber cut jacket will do, but nothing brings a group together than team uniforms. If finances (or sponsors) are available, the supply of club jackets or sweaters or sweatshirts brings unity and pride to a club.
Speaking of pride, I do not know too many folks who do not want others to know their name. Club name badges are a great way to show everyone who you are and to show pride in your membership of the club. Membership badges are not expensive which make them a great added value item to give to the members. You’ll be surprised by the expression of delight when a Little Rocker pins on their first name badge.
What is cool about our sport, the equipment does not wear-out quickly and can be handed down or transferred to others. Happy curling!
Written by Mort Cooper
Tuesday, 8 March 2011 10:30
About Mort Cooper
Mort Cooper has been a curling administrator for over 25 years, beginning with 10 years as the Executive / Technical Director for the Ontario Curling Federation. He spent 3 years as the Curling Professional at Brantford Golf and Country followed by 10 years as Club Manager / Ice maker at the Brant Curling Club and one year as the General Manager of Guelph Curling Club. Presently, he is working on a semi-retirement career with a few outdoor pursuits, one of which is a member of the Canadian Ski Patrol System with Snow Valley Ski Resort in Barrie. In a volunteer curling capacity, Mort's career is highlighted with 10 years service as the Technical Advisor with the Uniroyal Goodrich World Junior Curling Championships, and along with his wife Donna, are major contributors to the Tim Hortons Little Rock Resource Guide. Mort acts as a resource on Little Rocks and is a Business of Curling Facilitator with the Canadian Curling Association.