The Ashcroft and District Curling Club is seeking new members young and old, to help keep the club sustainable and operating past the current season. There has been curling in Ashcroft since 1896; the first curling rink was built pre-World War I, and a new curling club building opened in 1956. It burned down in 1975, and was replaced by the current building.
Club member Delilah Chenery, who has her level 1 coaching and who coached juniors on the coast for 13 years, held a “Rocks and Rings” event in the Cache Creek and Ashcroft schools last fall, to introduce youth to the sport of curling.
“The kids were very excited about the program, and I thought there’d be more take-up,” she says. The club holds a youth training session every Tuesday from 3:30 to 4:30 p.m., at a cost of $5 per session, with the club supplying all the equipment needed; participants only need to bring a clean pair of running shoes.
The response, however, has been disappointing, with only two or three students coming out. “I’d like to have someone to coach,” admits Chenery. “We’re looking at teaching the basics. We want to get kids out and get started curling, and have them tell their friends.” She adds that any adults who are interested in learning how to curl are welcome to come to the Tuesday sessions.
“We’d make it a ‘learn to curl’ clinic.”
She says that curling can very much be a family sport, and adds that in the past many juniors came because someone in the family had curled and said it was fun. However, she notes that there is a middle generation missing from curling; a 10 to 15 year gap that means most children don’t have anyone in their family who has curled.
Hilda Jones, president of the club, says that while the number of seniors curling at the Ashcroft club is up to 23, that’s a substantial decrease from the 40 seniors who were curling there two years ago. While adult curling is held on Thursday evenings, Jones says that day is flexible.
“If five or six people can come on a Wednesday, we can accommodate them.” She notes that only one adult curler at the club is currently under the age of 50. “If we could find eight kids to learn about curling and enjoy the sport we could continue.”
Chenery points out that curling is an affordable and low risk sport. “And it’s close by. You don’t have to drive [the kids] to the ski hill.”
Jones says that the club is continuing to raise money by letting a silvaculture firm use the club building to store seedlings on the ice over the summer. And they are currently holding their annual money raffle, with tickets for sale at various venues around town. “Any curling club member has tickets, which are $5 each, and they’re available from me at Quality Glass.” The draw will be held on February 24.
The club will be holding master’s playdowns at the end of January, and hopes to host a bonspiel from February 10 to 12 if they can get enough teams interested.
Jones agrees with Chenery that curling has definitely skipped over an age group. “I hear people say ‘Oh yeah, I’d like to try it,’ but no one does. We keep hoping some other people will show up. We don’t want to shut the doors, because once we shut the doors the club will never open again. No one wants to see this place close.”