Bringing a friend to Daytime Ladies curling leagues
by Randy Pascal
Looking to catch some curling action in the Sudbury area?
One could fully understand why most casual fans of the sport might venture out on any weeknight, or perhaps on the weekend, to any one of the five local
clubs, hoping to stumble across a venue that is hosting at least a handful of curlers partaking in any one of the weekly leagues.
The truth, however, is that you might have almost as good a chance of finding the ice in use during the daytime, Monday to Friday. While pensioners
leagues, across the board, are certainly the most prevalent, they are not the only folks to take advantage of the quieter times. Nor are they necessarily
the most well-established.
Having just recently celebrated her 75th birthday, the still quite active and much younger looking Diane Bell suggested that her start in the
Idylwylde Daytime Ladies League dates back to circa 1974. It was the next logical step in moving along an affinity for curling that was smitten a
decade or so earlier for the original native of Massey.
“I started to curl in high school in Espanola,” Bell reminisced. “We had mixed curling. When I met John (who was to become her husband for years
to come), he was already a curler. He went to the schoolboys (Canadian schoolboys curling championship) and all that route. He was very competitive,
but I didn't get into that side of it for a few years.”
Once that time came, Bell was a mainstay in local curling circles, attending mixed bonspiels with her husband, curling in the intermediate ranks with
Sheila Ross, eventually heading off to senior nationals in Saskatchewan as part of the Jan Pula rink. “Once my kids went to school, I got
into curling here,” she said.
“We had a great program. We had inter-city competitions with other clubs, and all of the bonspiels that went on. Everybody was curling then, it was a
lot of fun. Now, I'm basically just playing for fun.” That, of course, is due in part to the involvement of Father Time, though Bell suggested that the
inner fire is never completely extinguished.
“I am very competitive, I like to win,” she said. “What pushed me on, at my age, is watching the Anne Bouffard's and Terry Moss', and all
of the new technology. It's a great place to learn, to keep yourself up to date. I was there at one point, but I am not there now.”
With years of involvement, Bell has seen some shifting in the field of curlers she joins every Tuesday at the club. “We're getting a lot more retired
people coming in, but then again, people are retiring earlier, it seems,” she said. “And the stick curling is allowing people to curl for longer periods. A
lot of the new curlers are even being introduced directly to the stick and they feel comfortable with it.”
That is just the type of statement that will make Anne Bouffard smile. Heading into her third year as league president, and 13th season as a curler in
the grouping, she is fully fixated on one particular priority with her job. “The challenge we have had recently is recruiting new members,” noted the woman
who also doubles as head coach of the Sacré Coeur Griffons high school curling team.
“We are an aging group, so since I have become president, that has been my whole push. We've had some success with our “bring a friend” program. This
year, we recruited seven new members.”
Bev Tarini was just such a newbie, one year ago. Well, perhaps not a complete newcomer to the sport. “I went to Lockerby and curled here
in high school, but that was the last time that I curled until last year,” noted the 62 year old league sophomore. “Well, I did curl the occasional
bonspiel over the years.”
“But curling was a lot different back then. For starters, we used to pick up the rock (to throw it), now we don't, and I've never used a slider
Re-introduced to curling courtesy of fellow club member Jo-Ann Basso, the same woman who was teaching her Spanish lessons, Tarini has also
embraced one other facet of the new technology of her now weekly pastime. “I used to be so scared of falling when I delivered the stone, but now I can curl
with the stick,” she said. “It's taken the fright out of curling, for me.”
This year, Tarini has been was one the most successful members at bringing along friends for her Tuesday outings, introducing three new curlers to the
league, all on her own. “It's a social thing, it's exercise, you're doing something and having fun,” she said. “It's all good.”
“The ladies are all very helpful,” Tarini continued. “I had to concentrate on one thing at a time, because everyone is offering advice. It's not going
to come the first or second game, but by the fourth or fifth game, you're getting into the swing of it. And I really noticed a difference between this year
and last year. I'm better this year, a lot better.”
Speaking of playing better, the Tracy Fleury rink picked a nice time to unveil some of their best curling of the young season. Competing in the
Tier I event of the Grand Slam of Curling Tour Challenge in Thunder Bay this week, Fleury and her Manitoba rink of Selena Njegovan, Liz Fyfe
and Kristin MacCuish posted a flawless 4-0 mark in pool play, advancing to a quarter final matchup Saturday at noon against Darcy Robertson
Over in the Tier II draw, the Tanner Horgan quartet (Mark Kean, Jacob Horgan, Maxime Blais) have safely secured a spot in the final eight,
capturing three of their four games in preliminary round play. Team Horgan bounced Mark Bohn of Winnipeg (8-6), American Andrew Stopera (7-4)
and Glen Muirhead of Scotland (6-5).
In women's Tier II action, the Kira Brunton junior ladies rink (Megan Smith, Marcia Richardson, Kate Sherry) finished at 2-2 and advanced to
one of a bevy of tie-breakers. Taking to the ice Friday night, Team Brunton were eliminated via a loss to Kristen Streifel of Regina.
Keeping an eye on other teams out of town this weekend, the U18 Pegasus Slam in Orillia plays host to an eight team women's draw which includes
the Idylwylde foursome of Bella Croisier, Jamie Smith, Piper Croisier and Lauren Rajala.
The impressive Croisier crew have opened the event with three straight wins and are currently in great shape to advance to a playoff game.