It may be July, and hot outside, but the Ashcroft Curling Club got a cool piece of news recently: a $5,000 grant from the province’s Local Sport Relief Fund. A total of 43 Thompson-Okanagan sport organizations have received funding, to help them recover from the pandemic and welcome a safe return to play.
“We applied for the funding because last year everyone paid so much money as their dues, and then we only had four or five times to curl,” says curling club president Hilda Jones. After being closed for the 2019/2020 season, the club was able to reopen on Nov. 3 last year following upgrades to the curling rink, including a new ice plant.
The club had doubled its membership, and was looking forward to a full season of curling. However, on Dec. 2 Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry announced the suspension of nearly two dozen adults sports, including curling, to try to curb the transmission of the COVID-19 virus.
“People spent so much money on memberships and then weren’t able to do anything,” says Jones. “We thought that with this funding, everyone who paid to curl last year can get a discount this year, and hopefully they’ll come back again.”
Jones adds that the club has also received funding from Second Time Around to purchase grippers, sliders, halos for seniors so that if they fall they won’t hurt their heads, and brooms. The equipment is available for rental or purchase by anyone who wants to curl but doesn’t have the equipment.
“Last year we promoted curling to newbies who’ve never tried it before, and gave them grippers, sliders, and broom rental for the season,” explains Jones. “If some people still need to rent or buy equipment they can. This way we have a full set of equipment for people who don’t have it. If you have clean running shoes, we can supply everything else.”
The club is hoping to put the ice in the rink a little earlier than usual this year, because of the short season last year. “If it’s still really hot in September that puts us back to mid-October, which is usual,” says Jones. “We try to start a week or so after Thanksgiving, but the new compressor makes it a little bit quicker to make ice, so maybe we can start at the beginning of October.” She adds that the season usually ends in mid-March, but is again dependent on how hot it is.
It might seem early to start thinking about curling, but the club has its AGM coming up soon and will start planning what the new season will look like. After having to put everything on ice last year, Jones is happy that things are looking brighter for this season.
“It’s so great that we can start thinking about this.”