Manitoba Curling Association president Rick Mutton phoned Sun curling writer Jim Bender earlier this month. \"I wasn\'t sure if I got him out of bed or what,\" Mutton recalled earlier this week, \"but I said \'Jim, I\'ve got some news to tell you.\' And he said \'Just a minute, I\'ll get my pad.\' I said \'Jim, I don\'t think you\'re going to need your pad for this one.\'\"
Bender, thinking he had another hot curling story on his hands instead found out from Mutton he was going to be awarded with an honourary life membership in the MCA. The presentation will take place today when Manitoba\'s governing curling body conducts its annual general meeting at Wildewood Club. A more formal ceremony is slated for October.
It is Bender\'s longevity in the curling coverage business and his undaunted support of the game that inspired the MCA to make him only the 10th member of the media to earn a life membership since 1956.
\"When we take a look at the sport of curling and the importance of the media to our sport, to promote our sport, to provide the coverage, to be at event after event, look for stories, look for leads, it helps the (readers) and it helps the association,\" Mutton said.
Some of the thousands of curlers Bender has covered from Neepawa to Thompson to Steinbach since 1983 believe Bender has been instrumental in enabling Manitoba curling to grow to the point it\'s at today through that work and dedication.
Not only has Bender gotten the word out, but he has done it fairly and accurately. And that includes the latest controversy involving the Canadian Curling Association and the World Curling Players Association.
\"He\'s been one of the best ones going,\" said Jeff Stoughton, a four-time provincial men\'s champ and winner of the 1996 worlds. \"And I think all the curlers have no problem approaching him with any stories or anything that they want to relay and know that they\'re going to be reported properly.\"
Kerry Burtnyk, another four-time Manitoba champ and 1995 worlds winner, said Bender\'s integrity was on display when Burtnyk had two recent battles with cancer.
\"It really meant a lot to me that I could tell him what was going on at times, but yet I could also let him know that certain stuff I didn\'t want printed,\" Burtnyk said. \"It\'s the class of the individual when you can respect someone\'s wishes like that.\"
Vic Peters, a three-time Manitoba champ, said Bender\'s passion for the game doesn\'t hurt, either.
\"You can always sense that he really likes the game,\" Peters said. \"You can tell when a guy reports on something that he enjoys. Curling is something that he does real well. And every sport he covers he does well. I\'m always interested in reading his stuff.\"