Four Months and Counting – This year’s championship will be held in Ottawa and hosted by the RA Centre, the largest private, not-for- profit recreation and leisure facility in Canada.
The RA curling club’s six sheets, exceptional ice-making, glassed-in viewing lounge, and totally accessible venue make it an ideal location for the wheelchair championship. This marks the second time the event has been hosted at the RA Centre; the last was in 2007.
Rick Baker is CEO of the RA Centre and co-chair of the organizing committee. The group has been hard at work since last April, preparing a critical path, setting objectives, and developing work plans. “One of our first tasks was to identify where and how our venue could be improved to best accommodate wheelchair athletes,” he explained. To that end, the RA Centre has successfully procured grant funding to upgrade ramps and widen doors throughout the facility. Work is slated to begin in December.
Another priority is to ensure that the organizing committee’s decision-making is well informed. Rick and Co-Chair Elaine Brimicombe travelled to Thunder Bay last March to observe the 2012 championship first-hand, and to get advice and recommendations from the organizing committee there. “The Thunder Bay team did an exceptional job, on all counts,” Elaine said. “We learned a great deal, particularly about the importance of volunteers.”
With that in mind, the 2013 organizing committee is developing a comprehensive strategy to solicit and train volunteers for all aspects of the event. Calls for volunteers are being sent out to all curling clubs in the National Capital Region. Once the volunteers have been recruited, special emphasis will be placed on awareness and sensitivity training.
Some of the volunteers will have a chance to put their new skills to work in late November, when the RA Centre hosts the 2012 Cathy Kerr Memorial Bonspiel. Now in its eighth year, the Cathy Kerr is the largest wheelchair curling bonspiel in the world, with 16 teams from around the world slated to participate in this year’s four-day event, from November 29–December 2. “Having a chance to participate in the Cathy Kerr bonspiel will be an extremely valuable experience for all of us, especially in helping to plan for the nationals,” said Rick Baker.
For more information on the 2013 Championship in Ottawa, e-mail [email protected] or contact Rick Baker at 613-736-6219.