“It takes a village to raise a child” – African proverb
When I was younger, I remember hearing this expression and never fully understanding what it meant. How could a whole community possibly be involved in raising a child? Skip forward to the present day, and largely because of my experiences with the curling community, I finally believe I’ve pieced together my own interpretation of what this famous saying implies.
Before I attempt to shed any more light on the subject, however, I need to go back a couple of years. Roughly three years ago, I answered a call one afternoon from an unknown Ontario number, and received news that completely changed my life; I was fortunate enough to be selected as one of ten junior curlers across Canada to receive a 2015 For the Love of Curling Scholarship.
Words truly cannot express how happy and excited this phone call made me. To learn that the Curling Canada Foundation was generous enough to support my goals and dreams both in the classroom and on the ice gave me a new perspective about the sense of community this wonderful sport helps foster across the country.
Fast-forward from that happy day to August of 2017, and I found myself on the other side of two very similar phone calls. It was an extremely humbling and rewarding experience to have had the privilege of being a part of the selection committee for this scholarship last year; the opportunity gave me a much greater appreciation for the depth of talent present amongst the youth of our sport.
More than that, however, it opened my eyes to the incredible people that are the future of curling in Canada.
It is one thing to hear through the grapevine or social media about a young athlete who has won this competition, or that competition, or has been to this national event, or that national event. It is another thing entirely to learn of that athlete’s story – what drives them to pursue excellence in both academics and sport, the struggles they have faced along the way, and ultimately, why they love what they do.
I strongly believe this is one of the greatest aspects of this scholarship program, for it helps give the rising stars of today and the champions of tomorrow a voice and a platform to share their story. So, when I found myself making those two phone calls to deliver some life changing news myself a little under a year ago, I realized my journey with the Curling Canada Foundation had come full circle – reaffirming to me just how incredible the Canadian curling community is.
It sounds cliché, but the life of a student-athlete is not an easy one. Talk to any of the past scholarship recipients or applicants and I’m sure that’s what they will tell you in one way or another.
However, what they may not tell you is just how many hours of sleep they got the night before their midterm that was scheduled for right after a major curling event. Or the mark they ended up getting on that midterm. What they may not tell you about is the pressing feeling of anxiety that stems from thinking about that assignment or paper they have not had time to finish while on the road that happens to be due tomorrow, or just how exhausting the feeling of constantly playing catch-up after missing classes for an event is, only to finally get caught up and have to miss more school for the next event. Even fewer will tell you about times like when they were unsure where the funds for their upcoming trip to nationals were going to come from after they just settled their tuition fees, and the stress that goes along with situations like that.
As such, I implore you to do whatever you can to help the youth of our sport thrive both in the classroom and off the ice. Even the smallest gestures like being a friendly face and having an open ear for the junior curler you happened to notice show up to the rink with bags under their eyes go such a long way. The Canadian curling community has shown to me time and again in so many different ways that it is a bright and vibrant network of support, and I have complete faith the up and coming stars of our sport will grow and achieve greatness within such a framework.
So get involved, lend a helping hand, show compassion, patience, and understanding. For if it takes a village to raise a child, it takes a country to raise the next generation of curling champions.