It’s not so much a passing of the torch, as it is an invitation to a younger generation to join the circle and gather around the fire.
With hopes of attracting more participants to the sport, a collection of Hope Curling Club members are sharing the game with local kids.
The school program, coordinated by Ray Scott and Lou Kraszlany, has worked with three Grade 5 classes from Coquihalla and a Grade 6-7 class from Silver Creek this year.
Clean shoes and helmets are required; the club supplies the rest.
School sessions have been going on for a few years, but the club has now added an after school junior program. They held their fifth of 12 practices on Monday.
“We have had Junior Curling in the past, but not for many years,” said club secretary Jessica McWilliams, Tuesday. “The fee is $40 per person and is subsidized by donations.”
Curling mom Tammy Shields leads the after school program, aided by a sizeable group of volunteers.
“The coaches include Dave Vyner, Brent Stevens, Deb McKinney, Kent McKinnon, Ray Scott, Steve Harvey, Roman Petryk and David Radmore,” said McWilliams, who also coaches.
Shields’ kids, Quinlan (11) and Taylor (12) are fourth-generation Hope curlers and they play in the sweaters their great grandparents, Roy and Martha Hayashi wore when they curled. Roy has passed on but Martha is now 93.
“I’m not sure how many years they curled — but a long time,” said Shields. “Mom says she started in high school and they were well established in the club already by then and were still curling when I was born.
“Roy used to be an ice maker, back in the way old days, before the rec centre was built. He was a logger back then, so the curling rink was his winter job and they used to take the boards out and flood the ice completely as a skating rink over the Christmas holidays.
“My brother Gord and I used to play in a 6 to 60 league with our parents (Shirley and the late Al Trick). Now Quinlan, Taylor, Seamus and I play in the Wednesday night mixed league.
“In our first game, we played against my mom and Jimmy Toy — and he’s 85 years old. Their youngest player is Roman Petryk and he’s not a young buck anymore.”
Despite the huge gap in experience, Team Shields beat the veterans… though not in the rematch.
“Regardless of age, gender or physical ability, you can be competitive in curling,” said Shields. With the help of the coaches, the junior curlers are coming to that realization.
“We usually do a half hour of skill development and use the last hour for games. If the numbers are right, we play 3-on-3, so we have a thrower, a sweeper and a skip.
“I think the kids are really enjoying it,” added Shields. “They’re getting better at their deliveries and having better balance. Yesterday, after a fresh ice shave and only one pebbling, the ice was fast and they were having success at getting into the house.”
There are currently 14 junior curlers, aged 9 to 13, with room for more.
“We can still take kids now, if there are any who are interested,” said Shields.
Contact McWilliams at firstname.lastname@example.org, or Hope Curling Club on Facebook.