Welcome mat out for curling rookies

JOE PAVIA, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:45 AM ET

OTTAWA - The Canadian Curling Association reports post-Olympic interest in curling among non-curlers is high in urban Canada.

In the past, many curling clubs welcomed new curlers with a one-day clinic, then placed the newbie on a team of seasoned curlers only to wonder why the rookie left after a few games feeling intimidated by the skills the rookie had to learn on the job.

Three area clubs have taken a different approach, and are reaping the rewards.

The Granite Club instituted a Rookie Rock program eight years ago on Sunday evenings. The program’s goal is “teaching people to curl in a way that best suits their abilities.” Rather than mix newbies with veterans, the rookies learn together. They experience game situations, but also participate in off-ice sessions. As the season progresses, there is less teaching and more games.

Rookie Rocks begins in September and ends mid-April. Granite volunteer Brian Gatenby says the demographic is fairly young. About 250 rookies have been trained since it began with many of them feeding other club leagues. Gatenby estimates a 75% retention rate. The Granite program is so successful, a daytime Rookie Rocks league has started.

The Ottawa Curling Club pioneered a test program funded by the CCA five years ago, called the Getting Started League. It’s now a national program using the same approach as the Granite program with rookies sticking with rookies to ease them into the game. It’s so popular the retention rate is more than 90%.

The Navy club began its rookie program last season and has had success as well. The Sunday afternoon Novice league program also uses a season-long approach, with participants getting positive reinforcement through volunteer instructors and game experience.

The Ottawa club hosts a bonspiel for novices with two years or less experience Jan. 8. Contact manager@ottawacurlingclub.com for information.

OCA RESULTS

In senior regional action, those advancing to the provincials in Lindsay starting January 19 are: 1A – Joyce Potter and Bryan Cochrane, B – Cheryl McBain and Dwayne Lowe. The Dominion Men’s Tankard and Scotties zones for this area are this weekend in Brockville, Renfrew and Trenton.

WINNERS CIRCLE

The rink of Sameer Mawji, Cameron Myles, Ian Quinn and Kristina Belyea won the OSSC Rock Star bonspiel on Nov 27.

BITERS

There was an eight-ender at the City View Club Nov. 12. It involved Paul Hope, Celeste Butler-Rohland, Dennis Elgie and Heather Grey.

Randy Ferbey and Dave Nedohin have teamed up again to compete during the Alberta men’s provincial playdowns.


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