Curling for kids – who knew?
Sliding large rocks down a sheet of ice might seem strange for some people but for many children, it’s a fun, challenging and strategic sport that is growing in popularity. The Pointe-Claire Curling Club has more than 50 children registered in its junior programs this year and membership continues to grow.
Curling is a sport that has teams of four players. Members take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across an ice curling sheet towards a circular target painted on the surface. Brooms are used by participants to sweep the surface of the ice in the path of the stone to control its speed and direction. Teams that get their stones closest to the centre of the target receive points for each rock.
The club is open to all ages and skill levels and junior programs are geared towards children 7-17. The programs are separated into two groups: Little Rocks for ages 7-12 and Big Rocks for ages 13-17.
There are weekend courses: two, one-hour sessions for Little Rocks, which take place from 1 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 2 p.m. to 3 p.m., followed by 3 p.m. to 4:30 p.m. for the older kids. The club also provides opportunities for recreational curlers to compete against other clubs, and at Quebec regional games and tournaments.
Wendy Byrd, coordinator of the junior curling programs, joined the club in 2010 with her husband and two daughters (now aged 12 and 15), and says curling is a great overall sport for kids.
“It helps with balance, flexibility, strategic thinking as well as teamwork,” she said. “All players have to work together in order to make every shot, so there’s definitely a lot of bonding and camaraderie on and off the ice.”
As a coordinator for two years, Byrd has seen children of all ages get into the sport and an increase in popularity among young people. “Some of the younger kids just like throwing the rocks, but as they get older they start to appreciate the
strategy behind every play,” she says. “Every year, the number of participants grows, which has helped us become the second biggest curling club in the province with junior programs.”
Byrd’s daughter, 15-year-old Hannah Gargul, has been curling for six years and fell in love with the sport immediately after going to the club’s open house. “I have tried many sports before, but I really only loved curling,” she says. “I think it’s because there is a lot of mental strategy and just as much intensity as other sports.”
Hannah is also the skip (captain) of the Juvenile provincial circuit and hopes to represent Lac St. Louis at the 2017 Jeux du Quebec and Quebec at the 2019 Jeux du Canada in Red Deer, Alberta. “When I tell people that I’ve been on the provincial circuit, they tell me they didn’t even know that existed for curling, so I think it’s really exciting to do well in a sport that people don’t know a lot about,” she explains.
Hannah says one of the misconceptions is that the sport is not challenging. “I guess it’s not really considered as one of those ‘cool’ sports because people think it’s easy, but they don’t see the challenge behind it.”
The registration fee is $97.55 for Little Rocks and $127.55 for Big Rocks. Children only require clean running shoes and a jacket, all other equipment will be provided. For more information about the Pointe-Claire Curling Club, visit pointeclairecurling.com.
Curling clubs with junior programs
Lachine Curling Club
4105 Fort-Rolland St., Lachine
Pointe-Claire Curling Club
250 Lanthier Ave., Pointe-Claire
Town of Mount Royal Curling Club
5 Montgomery Ave., Mont-Royal
Montreal West Curling Club
17 Ainslie Rd, Montreal West
St. Lambert Curling Club
660 Oak St., St. Lambert