The Ashcroft and District Curling Club is getting ready for a new season, and they are inviting anyone interested in curling — whatever their level of experience — to sign up during a registration session on Tuesday, Oct. 27 from 7 to 9 p.m. at the curling rink beside the Drylands Arena on 7th Street.
“We have 30 people signed up already,” says club president Hilda Jones. “Six or eight of them are people who have never curled before.” She adds that most of the new people have said that curling is something they’ve always wanted to try, and figure now is the time to do it. “There’s not going to be a lot to do this winter.”
The rink stayed closed during the 2019/2020 season as the Village reviewed what had to be done to make it operational following independent assessments of the building and equipment. Over the last few months essential work was carried out, including the installation of a new ice plant, and Jones says that they hope to be up and running as of Oct. 31.
“That’s the night of our raffle ticket draw, and we’re hoping to have a mini fun-spiel for an hour or two, then go upstairs and do our draw. If [the curling] doesn’t happen then we’ll start curling the following week.”
Seniors’ curling returns every Tuesday at 1 p.m., and Jones says that there will be an evening curl open to everyone on either Wednesday or Thursday night. “We’re talking to some of the seniors, who seem to want a second afternoon of curling, so at the first session on the ice we’ll ask about the interest and look at doing another afternoon session for seniors.” She says that would run on either Wednesday or Thursday, depending on which night the evening curl takes place.
She adds that the club intends to offer a few new things this year. “We’re hoping to do family sessions on Saturday afternoons, where parents can bring their children.” Those sessions would be on a drop-in basis, but families could also sign up for eight or 16 weeks.
Before the curling season gets underway there will be a chance for new curlers to get together and be kitted out with the equipment they need if they don’t already have it. The rental fee will be $50 for the season — which usually runs through mid-March until about spring break time — and that will get each curler their own gripper, slider, and broom. If people don’t have curling shoes, all they need is a pair of clean running shoes.
“It’s all the equipment you need in order to curl, and will be the person’s dedicated equipment. Because of COVID-19 we can’t use the lockers this year, and we don’t want to be cleaning the equipment after every session, so we thought we’d do this rental for people. We’ll get them fitted out with their own equipment that they can take home with them, and have a little mini-practice as an introduction to curling.”
Jones says that Curl BC has a number of procedures in place due to COVID-19 that the club has to follow. “We have to clean before and after each session, so we’ll be cleaning, cleaning, cleaning. People can’t touch someone else’s rocks, and we can curl with four people on a team but can only have one sweeper at a time; the other has to stand to one side, and they’ll take turns sweeping.
“It doesn’t change the game an awful lot. Having one person sweeping might not be as great as having two, but for seniors it won’t make that much difference. It might for the professionals, but not for us as a recreational league.”
She adds that around the province, individual curling clubs are having to decide if they want to open this year. She notes that while the curling rink at Macarthur Island in Kamloops is opening this year, the downtown one is not.
“It’s up to each curling club if they want to go through the work that’s involved with all the cleaning. It’s going to be a tough year because we can’t have the big bonspiels where you get a lot of your income. We’ll have to get together as an executive and figure out what to do in their place to make a little bit of income.”
One thing the Ashcroft club is doing is promoting the upstairs meeting room space at the curling rink. “User groups have asked if they can use the upstairs, and we’re waiting to hear about that.” The space contains a lounge and a bar, and can be rented for $25 for the first two hours and $10 an hour after that. “It’s a big space, and people can use it for party functions. We can staff the bar.”
Jones says that if anyone wants more information, they can call her at (250) 457-7375 or visit the Ashcroft & District Curling Club Facebook page. “People are more than welcome to call, and we’ll gladly take them down to the rink. And once we post when evening curling is, people can come down and give it a try. We love it!”