The Star Halifax
Published: Silas Brown – Sept 23, 2018
HALIFAX — On a warm, sunny fall day eight people are sliding on the marbled ice of a curling rink for the first time.
The Mayflower Curling Club hosted an open session for anyone who wanted to learn how to curl on Sunday, hoping to attract some new people to the sport.
Ben Winters, 10, was out giving curling a shot for the first time because he wants to be able to play with his grandfather.
“My Papa was a curler and he’s 72 now and he’s still curling and I wanted to try it out,” he said while taking a break.
Winters said it was a lot harder than it looks to even get the basic stance down.
“When you’re extending, I find it’s really hard to keep my balance and push off because I can only go like a little bit,” Winters said.
It’s not a stretch to say Canadians have a history of curling. The Canadian men’s team has won the World Championships 36 times. The next closest is Sweden with eight.
Something about the sport is embedded deep within the Canadian psyche.
“I think it’s a sport you can do forever. You can start in juniors and you can curl — we have people who are 80-years-old that are still curling,” said Carolyn Kavanagh, the membership chair of the Mayflower Curling Club.
“The other thing, too, is people have seen it on TV, they think it’s very easy to do. Get out and try it, it’s not quite so easy.”
The Mayflower itself has a long history of producing champions. It’s Colleen Jones’ home rink, and that of Mary Mattatall, who represented Nova Scotia at the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts.
“I think it speaks to Canadian values and the camaraderie and friendship and it’s just a really great sport for teamwork and meeting new people and the social aspect, you know, families curl,” said Mattatall, who has been curling since she was 18.
“You don’t have to be good to have fun. There’s the elite side of the game, like any sport … but people can really have fun just playing and people like me are so glad to share the love of the sport and teach people how to curl.”
The most common reason to pick up curling is often due to a family connection.
“We have all walks of life, we have all ages,” said Kavanagh when asked who normally shows up to these sorts of open events.
“We’ll have some juniors that come in and want to try curling, we have people who have retired and want to take up a sport and we have university students and people who move to the city who are curlers and move to the city and want to join a club.”
For anyone interested in picking up the sport, the Mayflower will be hosting another open house next Sunday before league play begins on Oct. 6.
Correction — Sept. 25, 2018: This article was edited from a previous version that misspelled the surname of Carolyn Kavanagh.