Growing with the sport

by John Leonard | March 1, 2013
Little Rocks

Participants in the 2013 Timbits Curling Challenge, held Jan. 26-27 at the Idylwylde. PHOTO BY KAREN LUCZAK

Curling is the growing winter sport of choice for many young kids these days. Curling is often called “Chess on Ice” and truly is a team sport that can be played your entire life. Four teammates all have a direct effect on each rock thrown and where it ends up, including calling the shot, sweeping and throwing.

Whether it’s the Olympics or the family bonspiel you aspire to, starting young helps a lot. Sudbury has many fine curling rinks with Little Rock programs to get kids started.

Little Rocks are usually between the ages of six and 12. They throw lighter stones that look, feel and respond like regular curling stones. A regular rock weighs about 40 pounds, while “Little Rocks” are about half of that and made of a composite instead of granite.

Sometimes programs start with a short sheet so the youngsters can reach the far end. Equipment is minimal and usually consists of clean shoes, warm clothes and a smile. Most clubs supply brooms and sliders for the beginners. Once they progress, they can think about getting their own broom or curling shoes.

These programs are designed to introduce kids to the basics of curling in a fun and safe way. They learn the sport and socialize with friends, just like the adult curlers.

The Little Rock program at the Idylwylde Curling Club had dropped to nine members just three years ago. After adding a few siblings, we were able to finish the season with 12. Last year, those numbers increased to 25 with the help of a few “bring a friend nights” and some fresh volunteers.

This year, we have 47 Little Rocks and a new batch of certified coaches to keep things running smoothly. Sundays at the club are a buzz of excitement with children eager to get on the ice and curl.

There are many bonspiels throughout the year to complement the learning aspect of Little Rocks. The Timbits Challenge, the Elementary School Bonspiel and Development Bantam Challenges all do well to continue their curling education. The Sudbury Junior Curling League also helps turn these well-schooled Little Rock curlers into competent team players.

Many athletes who started in a Little Rock program often go on to be successful competitive curlers. Rows of championship banners hang from the rafters with names of curlers who started in Little Rocks just a few years ago. They all started in our Little Rock program and progressed through bantams, high school, junior, adult and eventually senior divisions.

Curling truly is a sport for life. Enrolling your child in a Little Rock program at a club near you will start the journey.

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