There’s a buzz of optimism when you talked to Joel Powlesland these days.
Curling season is just around the corner and there’s been much work done in preparation.
The club has grown as have the activities they’re planning for this year.
“Five years ago we had three bonspiels, said Powlesland, general manager and head ice technician at Sylvan Lake Curling Club. “Now we’re up to ten.”
“We’ve introduced adult and kid beginner leagues, and a new strictly adult beginner league. We’ve added a whole new program Sunday with extra leagues for men and mixed, family and friends as leagues — not just drop-in,” he said.
“Every year it boils down to demand. The program is going to work very, very well for the club and community.”
Powlesland attributes some of the growth to the involvement of school-age children in classes the club’s volunteers offer.
Most area schools are taking advantage of the opportunity with about 600 kids going through the six one hour sessions last season.
“We give them a taste of curling, a complete introduction to curling to get them going. From this we’ve had an increase in our family and friend leagues.”
There are also a couple of teams from H. J. Cody High School who compete against other students in the region.
Once the season gets underway, Powlesland said the curling rink is open from 9 a.m. to about 11 p.m. six days a week. Then there are also rental bookings at other times.
Leagues include seniors daytime and ladies night on Mondays, mixed and super leagues on Tuesdays, mixed on Wednesdays, seniors daytime and men’s leagues on Thursdays, stick (two person) and adult beginners fun leagues on Fridays, a morning men’s open league, mixed morning open league and family and friends fun league on Sundays. A junior learn to curl program starts Oct. 22.
The first bonspiel, the Sturling Open, takes place on Oct. 27.
Registration is now available through the club’s website, sylvanlakecurling.wordpress.com/. It’s got plenty of information, Powlesland said.
There’s also a meet and greet barbecue scheduled for Friday, Sept. 28 where registrations will be accepted.
Ice making started this week, but league play doesn’t begin until the week of Oct. 14.
Powlesland added the club is also looking for new recruits for the board of directors. Job descriptions and information are on the website.
Another reason for the optimism is that discussions are underway between club members and the town for a new facility.
With the growth in the club, expectations rise every year for ice and service levels. They’re always met but with an old building it’s becoming more and more trying, Powlesland said.
New equipment and a new structure would open up avenues for more curling in Sylvan Lake and more tourism as a result.
Powlesland said he’s annually asked about the availability of summer ice in Sylvan, not just for area elite curlers but by international curlers who’d love to spend up to six weeks practising before the season gets underway.
“It’s something we’re asked to do but just can’t accommodate at present. We hate to miss out on that opportunity.”
“We used to have summer bonspiels in Sylvan that were a huge success. Bonspiels for a week with hundreds of people coming along with spouses, neighbours. They were here for the fun and love of it.”
With a new facility he’s sure they can expand the curling season in Sylvan and attract many more tourists to the community.