This will be a year of growth for the high school curling league. Although the number of teams and curlers are down from last year, many are new to the sport and some returning teams are strong contenders.
“This year will be a grassroots level,” said Patricia Yeske, league commissioner. “We’ve been a little stressed this year. It seems like there are few curlers coming out of the high schools, so some had to scramble to put teams together. We had lots of interest from the younger students last year, but it seems that this year, there was a lot of other choices.”
At least half of the curlers this year are new to the sport, which is a positive for the league and many regular faces are back as well in this three-week old season.
“So far, there are a couple stand out teams...teams that have been together before or players that have played for a couple of years. The majority of players are either brand new or in their second year of curling,” she said.
This season, the coaches are still there for the teams, but the players are trying to be more vocal in helping themselves through the rough patches.
“The players have taken an initiative to controlling their own games, but the coaches are still ready and willing to get out there to help them,” said Yeske.
The concern for Yeske and the other high school coaches is the lack of enrollment from the Grades 9-12. The junior curling program is thriving, but once the students head to high school, they don’t seem to sign up for curling.
“What concerns me, is that we have huge number of kids curling in the elementary program, but we don’t see those kids joining curling when they get to high school. I don’t know why,” she said. “Curling is a life long sport and something that they can do forever regardless of what city they live in or what their financial situation is. Curling is an affordable sport and a social sport and the community is very welcoming.”
For more on this story, read an upcoming edition of the Times-Herald.