Over 70 curlers from Vanderhoof Burns Lake, Fraser Lake, Fort St. James, and Prince George participated in the Combined Men’s and Ladies’ Bonspiel hosted by the Vanderhoof Curling Club over the weekend.
The club’s membership grew 30 per cent from last year, with a 20 per cent growth also from the year before, said John Murphy, who resigned this year from his club presidency of 15 years.
It’s the second year of the club’s return to the curling rink after its year-long hiatus, when the facility was upgraded with an energy-efficient geothermal heating system, as well as a cement base to replace its sanded layer beneath the ice.
Including more young players, this year’s club also added a mixed league to its programs. Along with Tuesday drop-in games, as well as ladies’ and men’s league, there are now curling programs to keep the rink busy four days of the week, said Colleen Nelson, the club’s new president.
Nelson first started curling when she was 19, joining the mixed league for six years with her father when he invited her one day, she said.
Curling is a beginner-friendly and social sport, an attractive activity for newcomers to a small town — particularly the mixed league on Friday evenings that are followed by karaoke, Nelson explained.
“It’s a fun league for people who are just starting,” she said. “Mixed [league] people are forgiving.”
For Laura Purves and Amanda Kalaman, who arrived from Victoria three and 10 months ago respectively, the weekend’s tournament was their very first bonspiel.
Participating with locals Rhonda Stewart and Donna Giorgi, Purves and Kalaman’s first bonspiel game took place on Jan. 15 at 11:30 p.m.
“The late games are interesting,” Purves said. “It’s weird to play until 2 a.m. in the morning, exhausting.”
She explained that they previously only curled a few times, since two months ago when they first started.
“It’s fun,” Kalaman said. “A great way to meet people.”
The curling league provides an opportunity for them to be out in the community while doing something active — Kalaman also plays slow-pitch baseball, Purves used to figure skate, and both snowboard, Purves said.
“A lot of the women have been supportive and helpful,” she said. “I met a lot of people that I wouldn’t have otherwise.”
Though they both came from Victoria for work, Kalaman and Purves first met in Vanderhoof — both work for Carrier Sekani Family Services — and they realized they share many close mutual friends and had attended the same parties, Purves explained.
“Somehow, by a weird twist of fate, we just never met,” she said.
Kalaman added, “Two months ago, one of the first things I asked Laura was if she wants to curl.”
Purves said, “We’re having a lot of fun, and more young people should give it a try.”