By Jordan Parker
Swift Current may have locked down the 2016 World Women’s Curling Championships, but local chapters are still having trouble locking down members.
“Club curling numbers are dwindling all across Saskatchewan,” says Kelsey Dutton, secretary of the Gull Lake Curling Club. “Gull Lake is in the same scenario. It seems like our topic of conversation at meetings is always how to attract new members,” she said.
She attributes it to the ever-busier lifestyles of people in rural towns. “A few years ago, there were afternoon leagues. But people work, and everyone is just generally busier.” Dutton says membership plays an important part in maintaining the rink.
“It costs money to keep a facility like that open. If you don’t have community involvement or membership, you have trouble justifying keeping the rink open,” she said.
“Right now we’re just trying to prevent our numbers from dwindling even more.” In junior, high school and league combined there are about 105 curling members.
There was a marked a decrease of $1,500 in membership dollars between 2012-2013 and 2013-2014.
The group has started initiatives to drive membership, including a free adult lesson for those interested Dec. 3.
“We know it can be intimidating to come get involved if you’re not familiar with a sport. If you don’t know what curling is about, it’s a good opportunity to come and test it out. You can see if you want to take it up,” said Dutton.
All that’s required is clean shoes and the will to drop in and learn. The club will help with the rest.
Youth curling is important, with junior curling happening Mondays and high school curling on Wednesdays. Dutton says there will be a high school team in both the men’s and ladies’ league.
“It’s really important to get the youth in and participating. Right now, we have the same demographic playing, and they’re getting older. Some are going South and not curling in the winter. Fewer young people are replacing them,” she said.
“It’s important to keep the sport going and we want youth involved. We can get kids out and show them what the sport is about.” She says the numbers in junior are often good, but with more activities demanding time as children age, the high school numbers drop off.
“It really is a great sport to start young and do throughout your life though,” she said.
Curling is something Dutton does recreationally and competitively. “I enjoy the social aspect. You can go out and get physical activity. You’re able to socialize while playing,” she said.
The rink opens Dec. 1, and Dec. 3 is the adult lesson. There is a men’s league on Mondays with draws at 7 p.m. and 9 p.m. To join Mondays, call Ryan at 306-672-6722. On Tuesdays, ladies have a draw at 7 p.m. To join, contact Kelsey at 306-671-7741.