House Call: Victorian Victory

Presentations by the Canadian Curling Association about the Adult Get Started in Curling League pilot program in Ottawa convinced Len Stewart to start, not just one program in Greater Victoria, but four! Attending the Business of Curling Symposium in Vancouver last year solidified Stewarts’ realization of the importance and potential to bringing in brand new adult curlers. He decided to approach all four clubs in the Greater Victoria area and recruit a representive from each club to sit on a committee dedicated to successfully starting the new beginner leagues. The committee included Bill Chester of the Victoria Curling Club, Grant Marshall of the Glen Meadows Golf and Curling Club, Lei Davies of the Esquimalt Curling Club, Marilyn Kraeker of the Juan de fuca Curling Club, and Stewart as the committee Chairperson. Stewart has nothing but praise and admiration for the other members of the committee and he is thrilled to see the inter-club partnerships that have developed as a result of the committee’s inception.

(Photo CCA/Michael Burns)

Stewart’s hunch that the program would only work if all the clubs came together proved true. The clubs were able to pool their advertising resources for pamphlets and print advertising, and each hosted an Open House at the beginning of the season in order to attract new members to both their junior and adult programs. The four clubs coming together also meant they had more clout when it came to drumming up the sponsorship bucks they used to get the program off the ground. They managed to secure funding assistance from the Victoria Curling Legacy Foundation, Tim Horton’s, and Accent Refrigeration. The clubs had all hosted Open Houses before, but there was a key difference this time: they all had a beginner curling league starting after the event for newbies to join. Prior experience after the Vancouver Olympics taught them that the Open Houses had to provide a place for new curlers to come back to each week. The formation of the committee and the four clubs coming together meant great things for potential curlers. Each club has been able to schedule their program on a different night so local curlers have tonnes of options. “Four clubs coming together certainly offered a lot of flexibility,” adds Stewart. “Instead of competing they’re working together,” said Stewart about the impulse to not share ideas in the business of curling. Stewart, as well as the other committee members, has found that clubs working together actually accomplish more than pure, unfriendly competition. Since the program started in the fall there are upwards of 80 new curlers in the Greater Victoria Area. Not bad for a community with fewer than 400,000 people! And they’re just getting started; popularity of the program is bound to grow after the first batch of neophytes graduate and tell their friends how much fun they had. If a Get Started in Curling League sounds like it would be good for business at your club, follow this link to check out the comprehensive manual the Canadian Curling Association has put together to help clubs develop their own beginner programming