Wrench has heart in charity

STEVE GREEN, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:28 AM ET

He may be retired, but one thing Ed Werenich will never be is retiring.

Canadian and world curling champion in 1983 and 1990 and a 10-time Ontario titleist, he was at his irascible best yesterday when he showed up at the TSC Tankard provincial men's championship at the Woodstock District Community Centre.

He's being honoured here with a commemmorative pin celebrating his achievements in the game, with part of the proceeds going to the Canadian Heart and Stroke Foundation. It's a charity close to home for the 61-year-old.

"It's a great opportunity to raise money for a great charity," he said last night in a rare serious moment. "My oldest brother (Al) and father (Mike) both died of strokes and Harry (former teammate Neil Harrison) had one just a year or so ago. Thankfully he's made a great recovery.

"So it was pretty much a tap-in to pick the charity."

The golf reference is apt, given his passion for the links. Retired from the Scarborough Fire Department for almost a year, he's now dabbling in club-making and is the starter at Silver Lakes near his Holland Landing home.

"It's turned out to be a blast," he said. "I've always loved golf and with this I get to play a lot of golf (he's an 11 handicap) and talk to a lot of people."

Two of his former teammates on that 1983 team, Harrison and Paul Savage, are here watching their sons participate -- Brad Savage is the lead for Peter Corner of Brampton while Sean Harrison throws lead stones for Chris Gardner of Arnprior. Ed's son Ryan, the third for Dale Matchett's Churchill rink, almost made it here, but they were eliminated in the West Challenge Round.

"I told him he spoiled a good story," Werenich said with one of his famous laughs. "But he had a good year. They won their first three spiels and beat (Glenn) Howard twice."

Father and son played together in the Wrench's final provincial appearance in Owen Sound in 2004. That marked the elder Werenich's farewell as he's now out of the game for good, at least in terms of playing.

"I actually fooled around with a couple of family spiels around Christmas, but they just reinforced my commitment to quit," he said. "It wasn't worth the pain. I retired because of back spasms, but oddly enough I don't get them playing golf. I can play 70, 80 rounds with no problem; one game of curling and I'm ready for my deathbed."

Now he's more than content to be like the visiting grandfather to today's curlers, a fitting description as his first two grandkids were born in the last eight months.

However, he doesn't shy away from giving an opinion on the current state of the game in Ontario.

"I'm trying to figure out a polite way of saying it, but I'm disappointed at the calibre of shot-making on ice that's impossible to miss on," he said. "In my day you had to hair the guard to get it buried, now you can miss it by a foot and still bury. It's such an advantage to a good team because they're going to make those shots."

Werenich and Glenn Howard currently share the record for most Ontario titles with 10 -- Werenich getting six as a skip, Howard three. Howard can surpass Werenich by winning here this week.

"He may set a record that will never be broken," Werenich said. "I don't think it's as competitive these days. It's ironic I say that because there was a time Russ (Howard) and I won almost every year for 10 years, but I saw Russ as only one of the competition. There were always three or four other teams that could have won it."


Videos

Photos