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Wednesday, 22 February 2012 10:55

Swift Current youngsters learn to have fun with curling

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By Matthew Liebenberg —mliebenberg@
With more than 80 children between the ages of nine and 14 throwing rocks every Sunday afternoon, the future of curling in Swift Current is looking bright.

The Swift Current Curling Club’s Junior Program is enjoying steady growth and Jeff Chambers wants to see it grow even more next season. He leads the program with the help of a number of volunteers.

“My goal with any junior development is to get more kids out, just like I do it in golfing,” Chambers said.

Chambers, who is the head professional at Elmwood Golf Club, has a lot of experience in promoting that game to younger players. He has been following the same approach on the ice.

“Basically it’s just fun,” he said. “Get out there, throwing the rocks, participation, just an active class that keeps the kids moving the whole time.”

At this developmental stage he starts with fun and safety and then works on basic skills.

The first hour of the program provides basic instruction to the rookies. During the second hour the more experienced and usually older children will take to the ice.

The initial 30 to 40 minutes of their instruction will be on technique and then the fun starts when they break into teams for some games.

Nine-year-old Jenna Sloman, who is already in her second year of participating in the program, described it as “really fun and exciting.”

She has already learned a lot.

“I learn the turns and how to slide it out of the hack properly,” she said.

Tristan Hapke, who is also nine years old, has been doing it for about a year now. At first, it was not so easy to curl, but he is enjoying it.

“I like throwing rocks and sweeping and skipping,” he mentioned.

For 11-year-old Aydynn Cox the best part is to team up for a game of curling. She said it takes time to learn how to play.

“Once you get used to it, then it will be easier,” she said.

Chambers started to help out with the program last year and then basically took on a leading role this winter. Although it is a grass roots program, it will benefit the high-school program.

“As soon as they get to the high school they’re ready to take on the big guys already because they’ve been working at it and playing at it,” he said.

He has already taken three of the more skilled players from the junior program to curl with him at the Tuesday evening men’s night games. He is hoping more of the junior program curlers will be able to have that experience in future.

“It’s such a good experience for them to play in an adult setting,” he said. “Some of the kids that I’m teaching are pretty darn good.”

As part of the effort to make curling more fun, the junior program has a big curling party at Christmas time and a fun spiel in March to finish the season. In both cases the parents are invited to come along and to play against the children.

“We’re working on skills all the time, but it’s tough to play a game with the young kids,” he said. “So they got to blend in with the older kids and play against their parents and they absolutely love it.”

It might even help to get some parents curling again. Chambers said he has been impressed with the curling skills of some parents, even though they might not have curled for a number of years.

“It was really good to see them getting involved because they realized their kids were enjoying it,” he said. “I hope there’s more of that in the future because we need to grow the game.”

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