January 22nd, 2021

Youth curling camp a chance to bring sport to wide range of kids

By Sean Rooney on November 2, 2016.


It’s time to play name that sport.

Anybody can do it, but it takes more skill than meets the eye. Anybody can make one good shot, but playing well consistently separates the elite from the weekend warriors.

Age, body type, even disability are easily overcome barriers.

Oh, and the club almost always has simple equipment you can borrow for free if you don’t have your own.

No, it’s not golf. It’s curling, and there’s an opportunity coming up for kids in Medicine Hat and area to try it out.

Olympic medallist Cheryl Bernard is bringing The School of Rock youth camp to the Medicine Hat Curling Club Saturday, Nov. 19 and says there’s really nothing stopping anyone from making a double takeout or drawing to the button.

“They can all go out there and they can all be good,” said Bernard, who has three two-hour sessions planned for kids six to 15 years old. “There’s not a certain qualifying list of requirements physically for them to be able to play. They can go out there, be good, work hard at it.”

While things have certainly changed in the upper echelons of the sport in the past few decades, the fact remains that body type doesn’t stop you from having fun or even doing well as a curler. But Bernard, who’s retired from the competitive scene and will do broadcasting work when the Season of Champions starts this month, is careful not to disparage anyone when noting it. Fitness level can and does have an impact.

“You don’t have to be an incredible athlete to curl,” she said. “You’ve got to have skill and you’ve got to work very hard, but it’s not like being 6-foot-something and being a basketball player, or being 300 pounds to be a football player.”

Even if you can’t slide, there’s stick curling whereby a modified stick is used to push the rock and apply spin.

The hope is that kids will enjoy a taste of the sport and want to continue. Having a proper curling broom and sliding shoes may be common, but the truth is there’s always a pile of slip-on sliders to borrow at the club and usually a broom too.

The camp costs $25, is sponsored by New Holland and you can sign up at http://www.newhollandcurling.com before Nov. 10.

“It’s the cheapest sport. Kids can play this game, join a league for $180 a year, equipment’s dirt cheap and you get to learn teamwork, working with others, you get to play from September to April.”

Bernard, who won a silver medal in 2010 with her team at the Vancouver Olympics, did make a bit of a return last month, subbing in for skip Jennifer Jones who had her second daughter this summer. She’d retired in 2014 but did pretty well, as Team Jones got to the semifinals in Saskatoon.

She then got her old teammates back together for an impressive two-week run. After getting to the final in a minor event in Calgary, they played big-name teams in Vernon, B.C. and made the final there, too.

“It was fun, I was out of retirement for three weeks,” she said. “I think I might get asked again if somebody else gets pregnant.”

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