Curling season is officially a go as of last week in Strathmore, as all of the local leagues kicked off on their respective scheduled days for play.
The men’s league was the first to kick off on Oct. 24, followed immediately by the women’s league on Oct. 25, then mixed league on the 27 and 28.
Ken Shackleton, president of the Strathmore and District Curling Club (SDCC), said although registration is lighter than it historically has been, he is pleased to see folks coming out again to curl following the relief of COVID-19 concerns.
“We have got 12 teams in the men’s, eight teams in the ladies’ and 15 teams in the mixed league, and we have a sturling league (teams of two instead of four) with eight teams in that,” said Shackleton.
An afternoon league aimed at seniors has launched, hosting on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays and the club is also excited to welcome back school physical education programs to the ice.
The casual leagues host players of demographics ranging from those in their 20’s, to seniors, according to Shackleton.
During the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the curling club cancelled league activities for 2020, and resumed with limitations last season.
This year, the club is back to fully operational and hopes to grow the roster of teams back to pre-COVID-19 numbers within the next few years.
“We have mostly curlers who have been here for a long time, but we do have a few new curlers who we gain through the learn to curl clinic every year,” said Cindy Shackleton, who runs the ladies’ league. “With new people coming to town and the town growing, we hope that we can grow our league as well from new residents.”
Prior to the launch of the casual leagues, the SDCC hosted five “learn to curl” evenings for new players to come out and try the game.
According to Cindy Shackleton, the event was a huge hit and spurred many of the new players to join the casual leagues.
Though competition is friendly and winning the leagues is mostly for bragging rights throughout the season, the SDCC does also host several competitive bonspiels for teams to attend.
These events encourage teams from the greater Calgary region to attend and is host to much more competition, including a prize pool.
“You definitely want to be putting your competitive team in for that because you do get some strong players and teams coming from all around the small towns, as well as Calgary,” said Cindy Shackleton.
The casual and scheduled leagues will operate on a weekly basis until March.
John Watson, Local Journalism Initiative Reporter, Strathmore Times