Hearts organizers starting to get busier

STEVE GREEN -- London Free Press

, Last Updated: 1:20 PM ET

Outside, the changing of the leaves is a sign winter is fast approaching. Inside is a sign the 2006 Scott Tournament of Hearts is doing likewise.

Yesterday, event co-ordinator Gord McNabb, sponsorship fulfilment director Andy Henry and office administrator Kelly McGuire were busy in their Wellington Street offices with a mass mailing to curling clubs within a one-hour radius of London. It's one of the tasks they'll perform to make sure the national women's curling championship Feb. 25-March 5 runs as smoothly as possible.

McNabb, who managed the 2004 Hearts in Red Deer, Alta., and 2004 Continental Cup in Medicine Hat, Alta., is a liaison between the host committee and the Canadian Curling Association. As his title suggests, Henry works with the event sponsors. Besides the daily office functions, McGuire looks after the financial details and helps with the volunteer database.

The only paid staffers on the organizing committee -- Julie Armstrong is a volunteer who works in marketing and group sales -- they oversee a total budget of just less than $3 million.

"It's still a volunteer event," McNabb said. "We like to consider ourselves as being behind the scenes, making sure we give the right direction to the host committee. We don't want the limelight -- it's still the volunteers who run the show."

Which they wouldn't be able to do if the main office didn't do its job.

"Not only does the CCA expect us to perform, so do the volunteers. They expect us -- and rightly so -- to have the answers," McNabb said. "But we don't pretend to have all the answers because every event has its own unique circumstances."

Things are about to get busier Monday with the release of the ticket mini- packages covering the opening weekend, midweek and championship weekend draws. A sponsors' workshop is slated for Nov. 15.

All this with the first shot of the championship 16 weeks away.

"A lot of people don't realize how close it is," McNabb said, adding everything is either on or ahead of schedule. "We just finished a review meeting with the CCA and Scott Paper and to be completely honest, they're really happy."

McNabb added the event has reached its quota of 550 volunteers and their uniforms have been ordered, putting the Scott ahead of even next month's Olympic trials in that aspect. As well, the organization of the Heartstop Lounge at the London Convention Centre is well ahead of schedule.

"It's likely one of the best Heartstop committees I've ever worked with," he said. "Usually, it's one of the last to be set up."

Having the right people on the organizing committee makes the office staff's job easier, McNabb said, adding this one is particularly strong.

"Some committees expect the office to do everything," he said. "This committee is actually very involved. They don't micro-manage; they do their functions with our assistance."

Around the house

Scott McDonald and his Highland rink of Micky Lizmore, Brodie Tarvit and Mike McDonald beat Codey Maus of Dixie to win the $1,200 first prize at the London Junior Cashspiel last weekend at Highland. The win pushed the McDonald rink to the top of the Ontario Junior Curling Tour's points standings. The tour resumes this weekend with the Ottawa Valley Curling Association Junior Superspiel, but McDonald isn't competing. Hollie Nicol and her Sarnia Golf and Curling Club rink of Jennifer Scott, Jackie Masongsong and Jenna Bonner won the London women's final, also earning $1,200 . . . The Ontario Curling Tour and the Ontario Women's Curling Tour are in Listowel this weekend, with the men playing for a $7,000 purse, the women for $3,400. Former U.S. champion Patti Lank is slated to be in the women's field. The OCT is also in Brantford, with Phil Daniel of Tilbury and Ilderton's Kirk Ziola among the entries.


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