Our sport keeps chugging along, gaining momentum every week it seems. All the neat stories in the news (both traditional and new media) show strengths from school curling to adult club curling to the great play we watch on television.
But, we need to keep our foot on the gaz pedal ensuring the Canadian public (especially those who don’t know they’re curlers yet!) have us top of mind.
If I had a crystal ball, what would I like to see in our future.
1) A thousand Canadian curling facilities with Facebook pages that are regularly updated. For a number of years now, we have been trying to convince the curling ‘club’ to embrace new technology by building a web page. We have still a ways to go to make this a reality, however, I now realize that web pages aren’t new media anymore; they’re as traditional as newspaper ads! So, it’s on to Facebook which is free, relatively easy to set-up and a great way to stay in touch with not only your members, but the ‘friends’ of your members and hopefully their friends and then the friends of their friends! The toughest part is staying relevant but that can easily be accomplished with as little as 15 minutes of updating per day. There are a number of great Facebook pages managed and operated by small clubs in small communities which should be an inspiration to all of us:
2) No more buzzers or bells or lights signifying you can finish the end you are in and you can play one more because in 2012, EVERYONE PLAYS FAST!! Wouldn’t that be nice. Eight end games played in an hour & 50 minutes. Wow. How about getting on the ice for the 9:00 pm draw at…9:00 pm! Leads and seconds, in the hack before the other team’s stone comes to rest. Thirds, don’t consult with the skipper on your shots. Pretend you are a lead or second (but only have to sweep four stones!). Skipper, be ready because your teammates will be in the hack ready to throw once the other team’s stones have come to rest. And, if the shot call is obvious for your last shot, stay at the far hog line and chat it up with your front end; they’d appreciate the attention!
3) Speaking of Facebook, the CCA has two Facebook pages dedicated to club operations. One is called “Start Curling” and the other is “Business of Curling”. I’d be thrilled if more clubs signed up (Presidents, managers, club members, bonspiel chairs etc.). There’s a lot of great information that we come across that we share with those on the page. Again, it’s about keeing the sport top of mind as well as sharing great ideas. It will help you so please ‘like us’ and once you do, share your great stories with everyone.
4) Rookie leagues. I remain convinced the health of our game at the recreation level lies with the implementation of rookie leagues. The latest to do so is the Vancouver CC (story here) and there’s a bit of a groundswell out there where more and more are putting this form of programming into their schedules. What is it? Simply put, it is superior customer service at its best. Your club would operate a league for brand new curlers where they would be taught to play the game during one or two seasons (and not one or two days as many do know). This instruction program allows time for the new player to mature as a curler, to not be intimidated (especially after only one day of training) and to learn with others of similar experience. There are a number of clubs doing this right now with incredible retention rates, members who are likely to stay members for years (decades?) etc. Some are even running bonspiels for players with 2 years experience or less and they’re selling out! Check this out http://hoglinecurling.com/joes-blog/370-curlingpalooza-rocks-on. They’re looking for 20 teams. They have 25 signed up with 3 weeks to go!
5) Hot, fancy, tasty, attractive drinks behind the club bar. When the cold weather really hits, wouldn’t it be nice to order a hot chocolate from your bar? But not just a hot chocolate in a Styrofoam cup. In a real mug, with whipping cream or marshmallows and a real spoon. And if you dare, add an ounce of Amarula or your favourite spirit. Or get even fancier like the Blind River CC!
Merry Christmas, Happy New Year and Good Curling in 2012 to all!