Students hone skills for provincial Timbits tourney
|By Mark Arike - Staff Writer | April 6, 2015
Three teams of young local curlers have been diligently working on their game in the weeks leading up to the Timbits Provincial Curling Championship in Gananoque.
A total of 13 curlers from the Haliburton Curling Club's youth curling program make up the teams that will travel to the 28th annual tournament hosted by Tim Hortons.
For some it will be their first big tournament, while others will be returning to familiar territory.
"I'm hoping that we can win," smiled 10-year-old Bella Smolen, who will be making her Timbits debut.
Smolen joined the youth program last year after her older sister, Ania, got involved.
"I thought I'd try it and I just started to like it [curling]," she said.
Twelve-year-old Emma Casey has a good idea of what to expect as a result of participating in last year's tournament.
"The competition is strong," explained Casey. "There's always going to be people that are better and there's always going to be people that are worse. It's just the luck of the draw who you play."
Casey said her team "didn't do so well" last year since several of the players were younger.
She enjoyed her first experience so much that she decided to do it again.
"It's really fun – not just off the ice but on the ice, too," she said, adding that "there's a pizza party and a dance."
"It's just all-around a fun time that you can hang out with your teammates."
Smolen and Casey say they have made new friends because of curling.
In preparing for the tournament, skip Casey wants her teammates to stay calm and do their best.
"Like I said, there's always going to be teams that are better and worse. You just [can't] be worried about what's going to happen."
As for her game, Smolen said she needs to work on a heavier throw.
Both are looking forward to the upcoming tournament and plan on playing the sport well into the future.
Skip Dustyn McCready-DeBruin is anticipating returning to the provincial championship for the third year in a row.
"It's nice to meet new people," said McCready-DeBruin, reflecting on his previous experiences.
Spending time practicing with the rest of his team has been fun "because you know them," he said.
His goal this year is to earn a spot amongst the top three teams.
"We have a pretty good team," he said, adding that one thing the group will need to work on is their takeouts.
One of the main skills the 12-year-old says he has taken away from curling is patience.
The three teams, which are comprised of J.D. Hodgson Elementary School students between the ages of eight and 12, are guaranteed a minimum of four games in the playdown tournament. After their fourth game they must continue to win in order to advance.
The invite to the Timbits tournament is extended to all elementary school participants (this year there were 38 of them) in the youth curling program.
"We just throw it open and I give all the parents the flyer for the bonspiel," said Bob MacNaull, team coach and convenor of the youth program. "From that we see what interest there is in going to a particular location to curl."
The other volunteer coaches, all of whom are members of the Haliburton Curling Club, include Terry Lawrence and Aggie Tose.
Some strategy is involved in forming the teams, explained MacNaull. One team is made up of experienced players, another has a mix of new and veteran players, and the third is entirely made up of newbies.
"What we want to see them to do is improve their skills, learn some lessons, make some friends and develop a love for the game," he said. "But most of all we want them to have fun and enjoy themselves."
The entry fee for the Timbits tournament is $225 per team and each player is responsible for arranging their own transportation.
MacNaull tells the students that it isn't winning or losing that matters; what's important is the effort they put in.
Last year in Gananoque, one of Haliburton's teams finished fourth place overall. Two years ago one team came second in the "B" division while another team won the "C" event.
MacNaull pointed out that none of it would be possible without the support of the curling club and its volunteers.
"The club and the club members are 100 per cent behind this program," he said.
The tournament runs from April 1-4 at the Gananoque Curling Club.
MARK ARIKE is a reporter for The Highlander.