“An amazing group of curlers paired with an amazing group of volunteers” is how Noreen McCallum explained the success of the Alberta Optimist Juvenile curling championships held at the Sylvan Lake club on the weekend.
“Things have gone really, really well,” she said while watching final games on Sunday.
“The people were really impressed with the small town friendliness.”
McCallum, chair of the organizing committee, said the club also reached its goal to “expose people to the game of curling and invite people into our curling club. We’ve been very successful at that.”
There was no admission charge to attend the curling games which began with practices Thursday and continued through to Sunday afternoon.
The committee did that for a reason, she said. “We wanted to get people out. It’s also one of the things the curlers appreciated … We tried to make it cost effective for the curling rink as well as for participants and their supporters.”
Some of the participating juvenile male and female curling teams play up to 200 games a season. “They’re impressive athletes with incredible dedication.”
McCallum said seniors’ league members were a huge support to the club when it came to volunteers. They also had junior club members involved as spares and in the opening ceremonies. And a graduate of the club’s junior program served as treasurer for the event.
Hosting the provincial juvenile championships this spring is a prelude to hosting the Scotties in January 2014. “We’ve been able to try out some processes and now we can refine things for next January when we host the Scotties in the multiplex,” said McCallum.
The Sylvan club last hosted the Alberta Scotties Tournament of Hearts womens’ curling championship in 2009.
It’s a big event which brings in 12 teams and many spectators. “As with the last event, we expect games near the end will be sold out.”
They’ll need up to 150 volunteers for the Scotties. The juvenile event involved about 65 volunteers.
Wayne Chyz, coach of the female Southern Alberta Curling Association A team, Team Brown, from the Airdrie Curling Club, praised the tournament as “phenomenal”.
“We’ve had a good time, laughed and joked around with the officials, it’s been great,” he said.
“Noreen put together a good set of volunteers. It would be easy to come back.” Chyz said some members of his team have been in provincials, either at the junior or juvenile level, for the past five years.
The team visited Sylvan Lake a couple of weeks ago “to get a feel for the ice” and Chyz noted Joel Powlesland was “very accommodating and shared the secrets of the club”.
Chyz said they “always enjoy coming to small towns and what volunteers do to make the athletes feel welcome. We like to get out and not just come and play but joke around and have fun. The volunteers were more than happy to accommodate our sense of humour.”
He concluded, “the majority of us have a great time”.
“This weekend has gone absolutely swimmingly,” said Powlesland, who’s the manager and head ice technician. “There was not a hiccup, not a concern. We’re going to do it again for the Scotties. People have been fantastic, the curlers put on a good show, curling was fantastic, everyone was pleased.”
The girls’ side of the bonspiel was won by Team Schmiemann, which curls out of the Saville Community Sports Center in Edmonton, with a 4-1 record. The team includes Danielle Schmiemann (skip), Kate Goodhelpsen (third), Brenna Bilassy (second), Rebecca Allen (lead) and Skip Wilson (coach). They were the Northern Alberta Curling Association B qualifiers.
The boys’ side was won by Team Harty, which curls out of the Okotoks and Nanton Curling Clubs, with a 5-0 record. The team includes Jeremy Harty (skip), Kyler Kleibrink (third), Jeremy Burnett (second), Chris Sprinkhuysen (lead) and Richard Kleibrink (coach). They were the Southern Alberta Curling Association B qualifiers.
The winners will represent Alberta in the national Optimist Juvenile Championships in Langley and Surrey, B.C. Mar. 27-30.