Our House is Your House

Comox Valley Curling Club sees significant membership growth in 60th season

The 2018-19 season has been a special one so far for the Comox Valley Curling Club. Not only is it its 60th anniversary, but the club has seen its membership grow from 413 members in 2017-18 to 654 in 2018-19. Club manager Keith Parry does not think that the 241 member increase is a coincidence.

“You just have to make it easy for people to try curling,” said Parry, who has found that one of the main inhibitors that people face when wanting to take up the sport is not just trying to find a team, but the daunting prospect of joining a 20 week long league full of more serious curlers.

Parry’s solution to this barrier? A series of short ‘fun leagues’. “I approached friends at [local company] Gladstone Brewing … and suggested that they sponsor our Friday Fun League.”

Previously, unless there was a bonspiel, nothing was happening at the club on Friday nights. Now the Friday Fun League (which runs for three, five-week sessions) has three full draws with 36 teams.

“There’s a waitlist to try curling,” Parry said of the league’s success. “We’ve started a Sunday Fun League in 10 week rounds for the spillover.”

The club has also seen immense success with its Adult Learn to Curl program, which is based off of a Learn to Curl program that Parry was introduced to at the 2017 Business of Curling Symposium in Kelowna.

“It was sold out and almost everyone who has taken that program has integrated into senior leagues or the Friday Fun League or the Sunday Fun League,” said Parry.

Parry has also focused on refreshing the lounge area by adding games like giant Jenga, changing up the bar’s menu items, and playing more music.

“I’m just trying to make it a bit more lively and inclusive for everyone, and trying to make it welcoming for everyone,” said Parry.

Keeping with their trend of lowering barriers for new curlers, the club is also introducing a new bonspiel this season called Pros and Joes.

Parry pointed out that he spent his first five or so years of curling hesitant to sign up for a bonspiel. The hope is that this bonspiel, in which teams are made up of two experienced curlers and two new curlers, will provide an easy and welcoming introduction to bonspiels for the club’s new curlers.

While the Comox Valley Curling Club has been focusing on its new and introductory curlers, it has also been focusing on celebrating its past 60 years.

A special logo was put together for the 2018-19 season, and the club’s bonspiel committees were encouraged to plan some sort of ‘60’ theme for their events (such as the Diamonds are Forever Women’s Bonspiel).

In September, the club hosted an Open House which featured a four end game that matched up 2018 PCMCA/BCIMCA 60+ Ladies’ Champion Team Dufour and 2018 BC Winter Games gold medalists Team Richards. The intergenerational draw finished in a tie with a score of 4-4.

Comox Valley Curling Club has much to celebrate for its diamond jubilee, including how the club is continuing to find new ways to introduce more people to the sport of curling.

Want more information on starting a Learn to Curl program or feedback on ways to increase your membership? Contact Melissa Sim at msims@curlbc.ca and stay tuned for more information on the 2019 Curl BC Business of Curling Symposium.

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