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Pebbles to Boulders: Lessons Learned

Friday, 27 April 2012 - Posted by Mort Cooper

The curling season is over. So sad, but it is true. From this season of Pebbles to Boulder stories, let’s take a look back at some of the more important lessons we have learned.

Bally Haly happy curler (Photo courtesy M. Cooper)

The first lesson learned is organization. Organization is the foundation on which everything else is based. You will remember Elinor Udell from the Bally Haly Golf and Country Club in St. John’s, Newfoundland. Elinor knows organization for she prepared a 27-page organizational document that referenced clearly areas of marketing, registration, recruitment of instructors, on-ice training and instruction, information management and communication, evaluating and reporting, budgets, program accountability, equipment, health and safety, motivation, scheduling, social events and archives. “I wrote it specifically for new coaches coming into the program and the management at our curling club.”

Speaking from my own experiences for a moment, being organized helps with program communications with members, volunteer recruitment, program operations and ultimately membership recruitment. When you set a good example of being organized, others will more readily come on board to assist you. If you are disorganized, others will avoid you like the plague, for they do not want anything to do with what looks like a sinking ship.

The Canadian Curling Association has available the Tim Hortons Little Rock Resource Guide, which is a terrific reference for ideas and examples on how to do anything when it comes to Little Rock curling.

Sam Stouffer and Jennifer Jones (Photo courtesy M. Cooper)

Another lesson learned is that the program has to be fun. Remember Samantha Stouffer from the Paris Curling Club in Ontario who created a learn-to-curl program called Field Trip Friday. This program invites school groups to the club to experience curling. “The two-and-a-half-hour field trip involves showing the students how to slide and throw a rock plus sweeping. A series of drills and activities involving sweeping, scoring, measuring and the short game, make the learning fun.”

“I don’t remember ever having a day where I didn’t want to go back for another day of curling’, noted Danielle Inglis from Nobleton Ontario, one of our sport’s rising stars. Danielle recalls throwing Cornish Hens down the ice at Christmas time for a fun seasonal activity.

Erin Carmody, another rising curling star from Summerside, Prince Edward Island, who recently moved to Calgary, remembers the fun during her Little Rock days. “At the end of the season, crazy games were played. Corner to corner was one of the games, involving throwing the rock from the hack on sheet one to the house at the other end on sheet six, diagonally across the whole ice surface. Winners of the crazy games received cute little trophies.”

Little Danielle Inglis (Photo courtesy M. Cooper)

Fun in Little Rocks can be created in several ways, such as drill stations, short games, half-way hacks, skill awards, bonspiels and social events like themed parties at Halloween, Christmas, Easter and even during the Brier and Scotties. Food, is always fun at any party, so be sure to include feeding the kids and providing sweet treats… the kids remember the fun around food. End of season awards are also fun. I do not know any kid, who will not remember the fun of receiving a medallion, or certificate, or badge or goodie bag at the end of season awards presentation.

Amy Miller from the Coldwater Curling Club in Ontario says kids get bored very easily. “You have to keep them active and moving. Doing the same thing all the time is monotonous.” The last lesson is to keep the activity moving and the program interesting. The young curlers stay tuned-in if they are attentive and have new experiences each week. Mixing up the activity each week and even over the course of the curling day keeps the kids challenged. A variety of drill stations changed every ten minutes works very well. Then every other week, change the routine from drill stations to actual games, to short games, to skill competitions, to a surprise party. Keep the kids dialed-in and they will stay interested in curling and tell their friends.

I hope you have enjoyed the season of Pebbles to Boulders. It has been interesting to explore some very good club programs and to hear the stories of our young curlers, the pebbles who have become boulders, major players in our sport.


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.


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