Faced with the shutting down of women’s curling last year — and a significant drop in the last year’s men’s bonspiel registrations — the Hope Curling Club has decided on a few new paths to help build interest in the sport locally.
A critical route is to get the game introduced to school students, so the club is working on attracting players from Grade 5 to 12 for two programs that would run on Tuesdays, starting in November.
Carrie Martindale has taken on the job of advertising the youth and junior programs and fellow club members Seamus Shields and David Radmore are onboard to help run the programs.
Martindale said she curled in Community Recreation 12, when she was at Hope Secondary in the 1980s, but has just gotten back into the game in the last two years.
“I’m playing in the Thursday open league and I’m loving it,” said Martindale.
The proposal is to start on Tuesday, Nov. 5, and continue on to the end of the season in March. Grade 5 to 7 players would meet after school and high school sessions would start after supper.
“The cost is only $35 and brooms and sliders are provided,” said Martindale. “All you need are clean running shoes.”
When the women’s Tuesday league shut down, that left the club with vacant ice — which they’re now using for player development.
Longtime club ice man Roman Petryk said, “We’re telling people who are new to the game to come out and try it on Tuesdays. We’re also there to help players who want to improve their skills.
“The Monday men’s league has nine teams, which is up from seven last year,” added Petryk.
“Some of the young guys have got their friends joining up — and we have a few players who are new to town.
“Mixed curling on Wednesdays has eight teams, the same as last year,” he said, “and we’re working on getting six teams for the Thursday Open night.”
The open teams can have any combination of men and women on their rosters.
Last year’s low of only 16 foursomes in the men’s bonspiel has caused the Hope club to try a combined men’s and women’s bonspiel, which will run on the Jan. 31 to Feb. 2 weekend.
“Lillooet has been doing that for about the last 10 years,” said Petryk. “They have to, to get the numbers in.”
In mid-February, the club will host the four-day BC Firemen’s Bonspiel. This is the third time Hope has hosted the event.
Petryk said the numbers are also down for the Firemen’s spiel, so the club can run all of the draws in-house, without having to use the arena ice, as they have in the past.
Rounding out the season will be the annual Mixed Bonspiel on the first weekend of March — followed in mid-March by the Nisei event, which brings together the descendants of Japanese immigrants.
For more information about youth curling or to register, contact Hope Curling Club at 604-869-5119 or Petryk at 604-869-9344.