Whether you’re a toddler-aged rookie rock chucker, a grade schooler looking to hit the hack or an adult with a casual interest in the sport, but looking to learn more, the Lethbridge Curling Club is inviting you to come down and hurry hard.
With another winter on the pebbled ice ready to go, the Lethbridge Curling Club is catering to younger curlers with its Little Rockers and Junior Curling programs, but also tending to adults wanting to learn the finer points of curling in the Rookie League.
“The Little Rockers is for the little ones aged five to around 10,” said Lethbridge Curling Club manager Dave Manser.
“We have curling rocks that are half the weight that they can start to throw and then they can move onto the Junior Program after that when they hit that 10 and 11-year-old age.”
Last year, the Little Rockers hit the ice once a week every Wednesday, said Manser, but a swell in the interest in the program forced the club to add an extra day to cater to the volume of young curlers coming out.
“We’ve seen so much growth the last few years in that program that we were maxed out last year and overflowing trying to get them all out there,” said Manser.
“So we added another day on Saturday. That’s an encouraging sign. It’s sort of like planting a tree, you don’t see the fruits for a few years in our adult leagues, but we’ve gone from about 30 kids to pushing about 120. So it’s good.”
Numbers in the Junior Curlers program were on a downward trend, said Manser.
That prompted the Lethbridge Curling Club to strike out into the community.
“Three years ago we came up with an idea called “The Curling Rocks Program”, that’s something we offer to all the schools, public and private, in Lethbridge for the Grades 1 and 2 to the Grade 6 range,” said Manser.
“We go to the gym and take our curling rocks that go on the gymnasium floor and we let the kids try it there and have fun with it. Then we try to get them to come to the curling club and try it on the real ice. I think that has caused our Junior and Little Rocker programs to grow a lot.”
Registration is $80 for the Little Rockers and $100 for the Junior Program.
That fee has given the Little Rockers program maximum bang for the buck.
“You get a $30 hoodie and a $10 gift certificate and a bunch of prizes over the year,” said Manser.
“You get a Christmas party and a year-end party, it’s a lots of stuff for $80 for an activity for six months of the year. So a lot of the parents say the value is one of the reasons that they came back and tell their friends.
“We’ve tripled in three years and it seems like it’s just going to keep going. For the size of our city, I would like to see 500 or 600 members. We should have a lot of kids trying the sport, but we’re getting there.”
Those intersted in joining the Little Rockers or the Junior Curling Club program can still sign up by stopping by the club or calling their office at (403) 327-1213.
Information is also available at http://www.lethbridgecurlingclub.com or on the Lethbridge Curling Club’s Facebook page.
“We pro-rate to it to a point, usually about half the fee, but we encourage (registrations) any time of the year because there are so many different committments. They can come down any time,” said Manser.
“If they’re not sure their son or daugther would like it, come down a try it one week for free. If they like it, (they can) register from then on.
“We don’t want to take their money unless they’re sure the kids are going to enjoy the program.”
The Little Rockers and Junior programs run from 4:15 p.m. to 5:45 p.m. on Wednesdays and 10:30 a.m. to noon on Saturdays.
Meanwhile, the Rookie League starts up in November.
“That’s another league you can join anytime and that’s for the adults that want to try curling,” said Manser. “The Rookie League runs all curling season. You can enter as an individual, you don’t have to have a team to enter.”
The Rookie League provides a non-stressful setting for the adult curler.
“Everyone is a beginner,” said Manser. “We’ve found a lot of times in the past where someone wants to try and curl, we give them a couple quick lessons and then throw them out there with the men’s team that has curled before and it’s just not that comfortable trying to learn that way.
“So this way, they’re all at the same level and we teach them as they go on.”
Instructors are on the ice at both ends of the sheet in the Rookie League, teaching the mechanics of throwing the rock at one end, and teaching strategy at the other end.
“There are always instructors out there,” said Manser. “You start off with learning the game and then you gradually get into game play. We’ll put you on teams together and let you go. That’s a pretty fun program we’ve got, it’s only in its second year.
“Last year we had about 15 individuals, this year we’re close to 40,” said Manser. “So interest is there and it’s growing by leaps and bounds.”
The Rookie League program runs Saturdays from 3:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. on Nov. 2 and 9, Dec. 7, 14 and 21, Jan. 4, 11 and 18, Feb. 22, March 1, 15 and 19 and April 15.
Bonspiel-wise, the Lethbridge Curling Club will be hosting the Manser Trucking Cash Classic Nov. 15-17.
“It’s cashspiel, but not the big ones like you see the Kevin Koes and the Kevin Martins at,” said Manser.
“It’s only $400 to enter per team. We’re trying to get 20 teams and pay out about $8,000 in prizes. It’s more casual and meant more for the local teams that want something more competitive.”
The Cliff Forry Senior Curling Classic runs Nov. 22-24.
“That’s a really popular spiel we have at the club,” said Manser. “It’s already full with a waiting list.
“It’s meant for seniors, but it has more of a competitive aspect to it. You play for money, but they have a banquet and all kinds of stuff.”
The Lethbridge Curling Club is also hosting the Junior Men’s and Women’s Southern Playdowns Nov. 29 to Dec. 1.
“We had the Scotties Womens provincials (earlier this year), this is the same type of thing, but it’s for the junior men and women,” said Manser.
”Red Deer and south is considered south, there will be three representatives that go from the south to provincials. It goes with our mandate the last few years of pushing the youth and junior curling. We’re trying to do a lot of youth-related programs and events.”