Dr. Brian Dalrymple has been sponsoring the Rocks & Rings program in Oromocto, N.B., for the past three years. Each fall, he “adopts” local schools in order to bring curling awareness to local elementary students. The Gage Golf & Country Club is using the Rocks & Rings program as a marketing tool for their curling club and especially for their Little Rocks program: they’ve taken the kids from the gym to the curling rink.
Here is Brian’s story:
The Canadian Curling Association’s Rocks & Rings program has been a great experience in Oromocto. I’ve now been sponsoring the program in schools for three years, and our Little Rock program continues to grow. The Rocks & Rings program has allowed us to reach children younger and get them started in curling earlier. With so many sporting options available and with the amount of time each one takes, it is important to expose children to curling at a younger age.
For my club, the Gage Golf & Country Club, the key to growth has been focusing on the kids having fun. We always mix the kids up each week so that the more experienced kids can help teach the beginners, and also so that every kid wins games about the same amount throughout the season. We have also focused on the relatively low cost required for curling, as children only require clean shoes and a helmet. Travel costs at the Little Rocks level are very low, unlike some other sports.
This year the club sponsored students to participate in the Canadian Curling Association’s Rocks & Rings program at the club and it was a huge success. The kids enjoyed the different feeling of being on the ice. We had a total of 210 kids (roughly 40 kids on the ice at a time) with instructor Cathlia Ward and our other generous volunteer coaches. Every kid was able to slide, throw and sweep. The school has already expressed an interest in doing the program again next year.
Cathlia Ward is the New Brunswick instructor for the CCA’s Rocks & Rings. She’s also an elite junior curler, having been part of the 2014 Canadian junior women’s team (skipped by Corryn Brown) that competed at the 2014 World Junior Curling Championships in Flims, Switzerland. Cathlia, a student at the University of New Brunswick, is the recipient of the CCA’s For The Love Of Curling scholarships.
Here’s what Cathlia says about her experience in Oromocto:
Taking 210 kids to the curling club for the first time seemed like an incredible challenge at first, but a challenge I absolutely wanted to take on. After a year of teaching Rocks & Rings in gymnasiums, I felt like it was time for some of my second-time students to take what they were learning (and loving!) to the ice. Thanks to an incredible volunteer team at the Gage Golf & Country Club, led by an incredible curling club and community member, Brian Dalrymple, Summerhill Elementary School had an absolutely fun-filled day.
Students from grades 3-5 were divided into groups and took to the ice for an hour at a time. They showed up excited, chit-chatting about all the new things they were seeing once they arrived at the club. Once the clean shoes and helmets were on each student, we talked about safety and then, finally, it was show time!
Each kid had the chance to learn how to slide, throw, sweep and, of course, yell! On more than one occasion we had parents of students show up to volunteer their time or watch their children on the ice. Most of these parents had no knowledge of curling, but several of the students signed up for curling on the spot (with their parents’ help of course) after their first on-ice curling experience.
After such an awesome day with the students from Summerhill School, I am looking forward to more days like this at local curling clubs with students across New Brunswick!