In the previous column, we met the creator of the first junior curling tour in Canada. Now it’s time to discover how the junior curling tour idea spread west like wildfire.
The Manitoba Junior Curling Tour (MJCT) was started in the 2008-2009 season by Manitoba native Eric Wasylenko.
A junior himself at the time, Wasylenko stumbled upon the Ontario Junior Curling Tour (OJCT) website (curlingrocks.com) early in 2008. He immediately loved and connected with the idea of raising the level of junior competition in the province. Wasylenko noticed that most juniors started competing in the Manitoba Curling Tour events early on in their junior careers due to lack of junior competitions and he wanted to give them more opportunities to compete.
Within weeks of first viewing curlingrocks.com, Wasylenko started putting the wheels in motion to create a Manitoba version of the successful OJCT.
After surveying the coaches and players, assembling a Board and gaining the support of bonspiel organizers across the province, Wasylenko was ready to launch the Tour in the 2008-2009 season. The concept is “pretty much the same” as the OJCT, just on a slightly smaller scale due to the limited number of competitive teams willing to travel to compete in Manitoba. It also uses a slightly different points system.
Since starting the Tour, Wasylenko said he has seen immense improvement in the level of junior curling within the province.
“Younger teams were getting better – fast,” comments Wasylenko. “Just look at a player like Kyle Doering who was about 14-15 years old when he first competed in provincials and next year is winning the whole thing!”
The hope is that the MJCT will continue to grow and more sponsorship of the Tour and the individual events will become available.
Wasylenko left his position on the MJCT Board shortly after finishing his junior career to focus on school; however, he still supports the Tour from the sidelines.
“I encourage young teams to come out and try the Tour events. Even if you only play in one or two, it’s a good experience,” says Wasylenko. “It really worked out really well and raised the performance level for many teams.”
Wasylenko is proud of the current MJCT Board and is quick to direct everyone to visit www.mjct.ca and keep up with the latest MJCT news on Twitter by following @MJCTmedia.
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Good curling and may the rocks be ever in your favour!