Young curlers from across Ontario are descending on Elmira this weekend for the U18 Bonspiel.
For the fourth year running, the Elmira Curling Club is hosting the event for high school age players to compete for prizes adding up to around $2,200.
Glenn Paulley, organizer and junior curling coach at the club, says this year’s bonspiel is part of an expanded roster of competition for the players.
“It really is a great opportunity for the youngsters to compete. This experience is going to pay off in how they do later on,” he said. “We are now formally part of the Junior Curling Tour, and on the tour, teams amass points based on how they do throughout the season. They get points and at the end of the year, the top teams on the tour will playoff for the championship.”
The tournament has only gotten bigger over the last four years, and this time out there are two Elmira teams with an Elmira player joining the Richmond Hill team as their skip.
“We knew that we would be able to attract some teams when we started because there just wasn’t as much competition out there. But, the response has been great and we have kept it up every year,” said Paulley. “This year, I opened invitations in May and the girls’ draw was filled in ten days, and the boys filled by mid-June for an event seven months away.”
For the girls, Emma McKenzie will be skipping for the Elmira team, while on the boys side, Sam Domaratzki is the skip. Veronica Bernard will be skipping for Richmond Hill, but curls right here in Elmira.
The tournament starts at 6:30 p.m. on Jan. 20, with matches all day on Saturday and Sunday. Paulley invites the public to come and watch.
“Last year, we had over 100 people in the lounge watching on the first night. It is pretty great,” he said. “We only have seating for about 40, so it was standing room only. Everyone is welcome to come check it out.”
The club is hosting another bonspiel on Feb. 4 for U15 players, and it will act as a curling clinic at the same time.
“The idea is to educate the players,” he said. “We are going to run a clinic for two hours covering things like game-day nutrition, thinking about what they are eating. We are going to be running set-up drills, strategy sessions and I am going to be running a brushing clinic. The idea is they play one game, they come to the clinic, they get some instruction, then they play their second game and see if they can apply what they learned in the clinic.”
This weekend’s U18 Bonspiel starts at 6:30 p.m. sharp at the Elmira Curling Club with the boys going up against Oakville and Elmira’s girls’ team competing against the Kitchener-Waterloo Granite Club team.