2018-11-27 by Randy Pascal
It might come as a surprise to the bulk of the people who were on hand Saturday for the Cambrian Athletic Association (CAA) intramural curling day, but at one time, not all that long ago, the Golden Shield actually iced varsity teams that could compete with the very best in the OCAA.
Hall of Fame coach Vern Dow was at the helm, with the 1986 women's squad claiming gold both provincially and nationally. The Shield would also garner OCAA banners in 1980, 1992 and 1993.
There were no such illusions of grandeur at the Idylwylde Golf & Country Club this past weekend. The day provided very much the type of mixed entries that the CAA anticipated, ranging from those who were enjoying an introduction to the sport, to those who had at least a passing background on the ice.
Twenty year old Tara (Ontario) native Owen Scott could draw upon some fifteen years of curling experience back home, working his way up from the Little Rocks program, on through the Timbits ranks in elementary school, and then competing for his high school team (St Mary's in Owen Sound) and also within the men's club league in his teenage years.
“My dad curled since he was five, same with his brothers, my mom learned from my dad, my grandparents watch it,” explained Scott. “It's just kind of been in the family.” Interestingly, the appeal of Cambrian College is also quite prevalent in his part of the province, an interest that stems in part from the location of the Bruce Power Nuclear Generating Station in nearby Tiverton.
“All of my buddies back home were going to Cambrian,” explained Scott. “They all took Power Engineering, and I'm in Chemical Engineering. This is one of the better programs in the province. It's a little smaller school, so teachers have more one on one time with you. And it's one of the only colleges that offers the program we wanted.”
While Scott cannot squeeze in a whole lot of curling during his time in Sudbury, he does avail himself to serving as a spare, pretty much every time he makes a visit back home. That was part of the lure of this particular outing. “My friends (Brandon Adams, Savannah Firlotte, Ryan Turner) all wanted to come out, and I figured I could use the practice before I go home and play with my dad or something,” he said.
While Matt Cole won't be signing up for league play any time soon, the more or less first time curler – he recalls trying it out on a school field trip back in grade five – isn't ruling out another crack at curling, somewhere down the road. For now, it was a great chance to get out with some friends for the second year Power Line Technician student from Port Perry.
“It's my last year of school and I wanted to do as much as possible,” he said. “I thought it would be fun to go out and try it. It was kind of my idea, but all of us (Jacob Richardson, Tony Sparks, Remi Myers) were into it. We saw it on the athletic board and decided to make a team. Three of us live in the same townhouse and the fourth is in the same program as my roommate.”
“It was free, just a matter of donating items to the Food Bank, which was good.”
Just as one might expect, Cole and company were not quite ready to ascend to the role of expert as they immersed themselves in a game atmosphere for the very first time. “The most surprising thing is how hard it is to get your stone to stay in the middle,” noted the 19 year old Cambrian sophmore.
“I was also surprised at how quickly the ice changes. At the start, it was a lot harder. But I definitely would be down to doing this again. I wouldn't do it regularly, but I would love to do another tournament for fun. It's better than doing nothing at home.”
And there is, after all, always that potential for unsuspected success. “Jacob Richardson, it's his first time, but he's actually really good today,” boasted Cole of his rookie skip. “They had three near the center and he put one in and knocked one of their's out and stayed right near the center. And that was the shot he was trying to make!”
“We didn't think it was going to happen, but it actually happened, so we were pretty excited.”
That is exactly the type of thing that CAA president Andrea Manson likes to hear. Jumping into her new role just a few months ago, the native of South Africa who moved to Sudbury nine years ago, after a stint in Dubai, is pleased that her group can open some doors.
“For a lot of our out of town students, the CAA offerings are the only way that they play sports while at school,” suggested Manson. “These kids can't afford the fees to play here regularly. The CAA gives them an opportunity to participate in sports here that they might not normally do.”
Still, she wishes there were more students that would come out and join in the fun. “I find that not everyone at Cambrian is included in our sports, some people feel left out,” she said. “Definitely people in the trades, and I would like to change that.”
As for "Team CAA", participation ribbons could well be the prize they are settling for at the end of the day. "I am probably the worst player at this tournament, but that's OK," said Manson. "For me, sliding is a challenge. I am afraid of falling, so I tend to be really stiff, and I don't get that fluid motion to let the rock slide down the ice."
"At first, I was a little skeptical about curling," Manson continued. "I didn't think I was going to enjoy it. As the day went on, I am definitely enjoying it more - and I haven't fallen yet."