St. Adolphe Curling Gets Off to Roaring Start

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As the leaves hit the ground and the nights get chilly, friends are gathering all across Canada in groups of fours to throw lead rocks on a new curling season. It’s no different in our region, where the St. Adolphe Curling Club is ready to rock for another year.

Suzanne Carriere, one of the club’s board members, says that registration numbers look strong this year. “Registration went well. Over the last few years, the men’s numbers have been slowly but steadily improving. The mixed has been very consistent and the junior programs are very popular.”

The lifeblood of any sport is the youth coming into the game, and in recent years curling’s governing bodies have put a lot of emphasis on attracting kids to the roaring game. The St. Adolphe Club offers two different Saturday programs for kids. The first is for beginners, usually between eight and 12 years of age. It’s a learning-based program with on-ice volunteers teaching the kids the finer points of the game—even if they aren’t quite strong enough to get 44 pounds of granite all the way down the ice yet. 

The second program is the more traditional youth league. These kids are older, more developed, and play regular matches. 

“The junior program had kind of stopped,” says Carriere. “We resurrected it about four years ago and now some years we’ve had waiting lists. Lots of kids sign up. It’s very promising in that sense.”

Carriere adds some of the youth players spare for their parents’ teams, and last year a youth rink even won the community’s mixed bonspiel. It’s the kind of momentum the club would like to build on. They’ve held early discussions with the Rocks & Rings program, which Carriere hopes will lead to the popular curling education program visiting local schools and introducing the sport to more children. 

In recent years, curling on a national level has become big business, with big-name teams vying for ever-increasing cash prizes and Olympic glory. That’s caused a wider separation between top teams and those who play the game seriously but hold regular jobs. Carriere says that despite what you see on TV, at places like the St. Adolphe Curling Club, the game has stayed true to its roots.

“Socializing is an integral part of the game,” she says. “Sitting down at the end of the game and having a drink or not having a drink. You can relax and chat. Maybe at the elites it’s starting to get more serious, but at the club level there hasn’t been a lot of change.”

The club boasts a 100-seat lounge for curlers to unwind after a hard night of sweeping. Carriere reports that the karaoke night held during the mixed bonspiel is a particularly raucous event. 

Women’s League runs on Tuesdays during the day, Men’s League on Tuesday nights, the Mixed League on Friday, and the two junior programs on Saturday.

What Carriere and others love to see most are the new faces. “We always get a few new faces every year, though we don’t get as many as we would like. People maybe get intimidated. But this is a very laidback sport. Anybody who’s out on the ice is happy to take the time to help new people.”

To encourage new curlers, the club holds open houses and puts on learn-to-curl events during the season. Carriere encourages anybody who has considered taking up the sport to visit the club’s website or like their Facebook page. 

Though the club has been running for more than 50 years, it’s still growing and changing every season. Recent luck with obtaining grants has led to some noticeable improvements around the building. In the past few years, that’s included new paint and carpeting. 

“This year we have new LED lighting in the playing area,” reports Carriere. “It really makes a huge difference.”

Like most endeavours of this nature, the St. Adolphe Curling Club relies on volunteer hours to make the place run. Volunteers run the leagues and bonspiels, sit on the board, and take care of just about everything but the pebble. The icemaker is the only paid employee. 

“Everybody here is very passionate about the sport,” Carriere says.

This year’s men’s bonspiel will be held November 16–19, and the mixed bonspiel will hit the ice February 22–25.

For more information

www.curlstadolphe.com

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