The sport of curling is reaching to younger and younger audiences in Vanderhoof, as the district’s first curling program for elementary school students kicked off at the curling rink on Jan. 13.
More than 20 students from Northside Christian School, Sinkutview Elementary, W. L. McLeod Elementary, and Evelyn Dickson Elementary are currently registered in the weekly after-school program on Wednesdays, said Loretta Stephen, the program’s organizer.
Curling was offered in Vanderhoof’s secondary school three years ago, but the program ended when students’ interest decreased, Stephen explained.
Also teaching Grade 1 students at Evelyn Dickson Elementary, Stephen previously brought classes to the curling rink, as part of the students’ physical education program.
“We got interest that way, showing them what it’s like,” she said.
Some students were also interested because their family are curlers as well, Stephen added.
Currently offered to students in grades four to six, the curling program teaches strategy, as well as offering an opportunity for exercise and stretching, she explained.
“There’s also etiquette, such as shaking hands after a game and positive comments when you play,” she said. “They also learn how to clean the ice and responsibility — taking care of everything.”
Stephen hopes to organize a curling play day in May — similar to others that are currently offered for other sports such as ultimate — hosting teams from Fraser Lake and Fort St. James.
She also hopes to continue students’ interest into high school, providing the next generation of curlers.
“It’s a sport for all ages,” Stephen said.
For Grade 6 student Milo Walker from Evelyn Dickson Elementary, it’s his first time playing the sport.
“I just think it’s fun,” Walker said. “One of the only sports I like.”
He joined to try a different sport, and curling is now one of this favourite — with delivering the rocks being his favourite part of the game, he said.
“I wanted to try something new,” Walker said. “I will definitely continue playing.”
The young curlers are currently coached by volunteers from the local curling community, including those who have graduated from the high school curling program in the past.
Continuing every Wednesday after school until spring break, the program’s registration is still open for interested students.