Curlers in Simcoe are eager to get back on the ice and have put out the welcome mat for those looking to try something new.
“It has been awhile that’s for sure but I know our members are really anxious to get going,” said Craig Thompson, president of the Simcoe Curling Club. “We’re getting ready to go and of course, we’re always looking for new members.”
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“We’re an inclusive club with programs, meets and leagues for people of all skill levels.”
Curling is a social game that can easily accommodate COVID-19 public health guidelines. The club has adopted the Curling Canada and the Ontario Curling Association guidelines, Thompson said.
The club, which has about 330 members, can trace its roots to 1873 when a group of ‘hardy souls’ got together to curl on Sutton’s Pond. The club joined the Ontario Curling Association in 1876.
By the 1886, curling had moved to an unheated drill shed near Young Street. At that time, they played under oil lamps but by the early 1900s, they curled in the Simcoe rink which had electrical lighting.
“As I understand it, the club stopped during the First World War and it didn’t really get going again until 1954,” Thompson said.
A year later, the club was based in a rink built on the Norfolk Agricultural Society’s fairgrounds. The club has been at 172 South Dr. ever since.
The pandemic has been tough on everyone including the curling club, Thompson said.
Play was suspended with about six weeks left in the 2019-20 season because of COVID-19. Plans were underway to get the 2020-21 season underway last fall but the club’s board of directors delayed the opening because of COVID-19 concerns.
“It turns out it was the right decision,” Thompson said. “We would have just put the ice in and maybe had a few weeks of play before we would have had to shut it all down.
‘Luckily, we were able to save ourselves the expense of putting in the ice and then having to cancel the season.”
Now with brighter days ahead, online registration for the 2021-22 season began Sept. 13 and continues to Oct. 15. To register visit www.simcoecurlingclub.ca .
The first day of play is on Oct. 27 and on Nov. 6 the club is offering a free clinic to those interested in learning how to curl. The clinic runs from 10 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. and all the equipment needed is provided by the club.
On Nov. 7, the club’s youth programs begin and a week later, the Learn To Curl program starts. The program serves as a lead up to the club’s adult instructional league that gets underway in January.
The club will be site of a provincial mixed-doubles qualifier from Feb. 4-6.
“This will bring teams from out of the area to play in a highly competitive event,” Thompson said. “Mixed Doubles is a two-person and it is becoming quite popular with recent Olympic exposure.”
The club will have a fledgling mixed doubles league on Sundays, so there was a fit in hosting this event to help expose the area and our club to this version of curling, Thompson said.