House Call: The Joys of Sparing

It’s your first season as a new curler and you didn’t manage to find a team. Don’t panic! Sign up as a spare. Sparing is a wonderful way to meet new people and get your foot in the door for next season. I fondly remember a young man who took a Learn to Curl Clinic at the beginning of one season and didn’t manage to find a team. I convinced him to sign up as a spare. He was able to curl any night of the week (I realize this isn’t always an option but it worked for him) and I’m pretty sure he ended up curling about 5 days a week. He met all kinds of people and learned which leagues he liked playing in best. By the next season he found more than one team to play on, he even ended up skipping a team. His secret to finding games was simple, instead of waiting to be called he showed up. I’d make an announcement over the intercom stating if anyone needed a spare they should please report to the curling office. Nine times out of ten he got a game. Occasionally he went home without one but he was willing to take that risk. Even if your club doesn’t have an intercom you can still show up, wait until everyone’s on the ice, note if any sheets are short a player, and see if they’d like a spare. My point isn’t that you need to curl five days a week, it’s that sparing can be a great experience if you’re willing to put in a little effort. I understand sparing can be rather intimidating if you’re a beginner and the idea of showing up for a draw and asking random teams if they need a spare can be downright terrifying if you’re an introvert! A less aggressive approach is to post your own little spare sign on the club bulletin board if your club will allow it. Put little tabs on the bottom of the sign with your name, phone number, and preferred night to curl. I knew a woman who did this every season and the little tabs on her poster always disappeared and she got a tonne of games. Another way to get more calls to spare is to meet people socially at various club mixers. Be sure to come out for club bonspiels (especially the ones where you can enter as a single), Turkey Shoots, and skill development clinics. These are all great places to have some fun, meet a few people and casually mention which nights you spare on. I hope this makes the prospect of entering the season without a team a little more appealing. Happy sparing! Watch next week for more beginner information.