After missing the playoffs at the Winter Olympics in February, Jennifer Jones and her teammates discussed why other nations have been so strong in international snooker.
The conversation spawned an idea in Jones’ second Jocelyn Peterman. She was still in Beijing when she texted the director of her curling club about the creation of flex teams for the University of Calgary.
One U of C Alumnus, Peterman looked north to find his reasons. The University of Alberta at Edmonton graduated from some of the top curlers in the country and the world.
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Curling Canada hosts the annual national college and university championship, with Sudbury, Ont., the City hosting the 2023 tournaments.
However, only 16 of the 56 U Sports schools have flexible teams. Nine others operate the sport at club level and the remaining 31 do not have a pool team.
Of the 98 colleges of the Canadian College Athletes Association, only 14 boys’ and a dozen girls’ teams competed this season.
Calgary has never flexed Dinos before Peterman’s pitch.
“We sold it pretty easily from start to finish,” says Peterman. “I have spent many hours volunteering to keep this program going.
“We sold it that way, that there wouldn’t be much financial risk to them, that we could raise a lot of money and we could get support from the curling community in Calgary.
“Curling Alberta has been trying to achieve something in Calgary at the college level for a while now so they are eager to help in any way they can.”
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A fundraising golf tournament generated $15,000. Peterman and husband Brett Gallant, national and world champions, will coach the teams at Calgary’s Glencoe Club.
They will arrange for the guest coach when they go to play against their respective teams or against each other in mixed doubles matches.
“It was an opportunity to add another sport in a very low-risk model for the university, but to provide an opportunity for student-athletes to compete in a sport,” Matchett said. important in this country.
In the past, students had wanted to go to Calgary, but the university needed a supervisor like Peterman to make sure the Dinos teams could ice year after year, he said.
Peterman selected Dinos teams of 5 men and 5 women from the trials. She hopes to form grassroots varsity teams in the future.
College snooker teams do not play conference games. U Sports Bend is limited to conference championships and Canadian championships.
There are college athletes who play full-time for men’s or women’s teams in tournaments and in provincial games. Together they assembled a college quartet for the collegiate championship.
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Learning to curl in college and university is just one piece of the growing puzzle for Curling Canada.
Clubs organize junior leagues and provincial associations organize junior qualifying matches on the way to Canada’s junior (under-20) championship.
According to Helen Radford, youth of Curling Canada and NextGen’s NextGen manager can help keep that competitive curl limb between the ages of 21 and 24.
“This particular age group is our top priority,” she said. “Jocelyn’s initiative with the University of Calgary has been taken up many times by others around the country. There needs to be a champion in the university or college leading it.”
The demands of school, starting a new job and moving away from home for both of them, can knock or drop someone in their twenties.
“That’s where we lose a lot of curlers,” says Peterman.
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Both Peterman and Radford say they are starting to watch under-25 tournaments and bonspiels.
Using a top-down incentive, Curling Canada hosted an inaugural NextGen Under-25 in Edmonton last month for mixed teams and doubles.
“In that event, we had some college teams,” Radford said. “We want every university and college to offer flexible sport whether it’s at a different level, club or recreational. Get more young people exposed to the sport. “
Curling Canada also hosted a tournament in Ottawa last month to determine the country’s representative to the 2023 World University Games in Lake Placid, NY.
Alberta’s Abby Marks and Dalhousie’s Owen Purcell will wear Maple Leaf in January when Purcell skips an Atlantic conference team at that Olympics for the first time.
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