On November 22 from 1 -4 p.m., the Victoria (B.C.) Curling Club was a beehive of activity as 340 area residents were exposed to the sport of curling! No sign up was required, only show up and a platoon of willing volunteer instructors took the novices under their wing and led them through a whirlwind of activities ending in the facility’s upper lounge with final questions and answers and refreshments.
Novice clinics are not new to the sport of curling but the “no-sign-up-just-show-up” approach was the novel idea of Canada’s Women’s Team Leader, Elaine Dagg-Jackson and Cindy Tucker, the VCC’s Director of High Performance.
Advertising the event meant a blitzkrieg of print and electronic media spots around the Saanich Peninsula on Vancouver Island’s south east coast. As one o’clock approached the instructors had no idea how many people would respond to the invitation to “Try Curling!” and if their attendance would be spaced out somewhat evenly through the duration of the event. Fortunately the numbers were large in total and the flow through the door was steady.
The participants literally worked their way across the eight sheets of ice stopping at each one for 10-15 minutes of hands-on instruction with instructors, many of whom had won provincial, national and world titles. I was charged with the task of greeting and answering questions in the upper lounge as the “new curlers “concluded their afternoon. To say they were enthusiastic about their exposure to curling would have been an understatement of large proportion. Participants came from all walks of life and age groups. Many families attended some represented by three generations. But, to my mind, the most important criterion of the success of the afternoon was the smiles that were on the faces of the attendees as they left the building.
On February 21, in the midst of the 2010 Winter Olympic Games in Vancouver, another “Try Curling!” afternoon is planned at the Victoria Curling Club. The goal is to expose even more area residents to curling as they watch Canada and the rest of the world compete for Olympic gold. Who knows, someone trying it for the first time that day might just be standing on the podium at a future Winter Olympic Games wearing a gold medal, hearing “O Canada” and watching the Maple Leaf rise to the top of the flag pole. But everyone attending will leave knowing they have the skills to enjoy a sport for the ages!
If you have a great story about your open house experience, e-mail it along with photos to [email protected] and we will publish it! Don’t forget to get your club on Facebook and other social media and link to www.startcurling.ca on the front page of your web site. Non-curling Canadians are excited about curling and are starting to knock on our doors!
by Bill Tschirhart