The Howe Sound Curling Club is poised for another breakout year after a jumpstart return to the ice in 2021.
The club is already a few weeks into its 2022-2023 season, and again they have garnered a lot of interest in the Sea to Sky Corridor. This season will take place in four sessions from October to March.
“Session one and two overfilled where we had a waitlist,” said Gary Sims, the president of the club. “Session three and four, we're getting full, so if people want to register, of course, they can still register for those leagues.”
The good news for the club, in general, is that they are meeting the expected costs that were somewhat of a concern as the club resumed in 2021 after cancelling the 2020 season due to uncertainty with the COVID-19 pandemic.
“We exceeded that bar and then we exceeded that bar again this year,” said Sims, adding that the funding from memberships is up this year.
With that funding — plus grants from Squamish Community Foundation and Whistler Blackcomb Foundation — the club has been able to replace the fire doors, repair the roof and add a divider. As well, with public fundraising, the club was able to refurbish the club’s rocks so they all are shaped and weigh the same.
Additionally, Sims said the club has been able to continue offering birthday parties or work party events, where the public can rent out the ice, receive a short curling lesson and access the bar.
They also have been able to offer their free, learn to curl program, which now is being offered to anyone and not just members. The first session of the learn to curl program is wrapping up, but another session will take place in early January.
Sims also said that the club has been able to reinstitute its junior program this year, which has been really important to the club.
“The junior program coming back is really a big thing,” said Sims.
Sims said the junior program already has six kids that have joined and they’ve gotten more interest as the season has gotten underway.
Portions of the cost of the program is even subsidized by a local company, Sims said.
“They actually pay for part of that program for the kids to go into, which is awesome,” he said.
Currently, they have kids from nine to 13 involved, but Sims said anyone between eight and 17 could try it out.
“We have multiple coaches out there based on the number of kids, and we will train them on however they need for the skill,” he said.
Finally, Sims shared that the club will be throwing three separate bonspiels: a women’s, a men’s and an open, which can be any combination of gender. These bonspiels are tournaments where teams will play each other throughout a weekend and winners will have the opportunity to take home a variety of prizes. The women’s bonspiel takes place on Nov. 5 and 6, the men’s on Jan. 14 and 15 and the open will be on Feb. 25 and 26.
In the end, Sims ultimately just expressed gratitude for all the help the club has received from the community.
“I'm just really happy that we have a curling club still operating around here,” he said. “The membership is really great. The volunteers are great, creating all these new committees and groups to help the club out.”