When it comes to sports, Elmira may be thought of as a hockey community, but the town has long boasted a thriving curling scene, too. Home to the Elmira and District Curling Club, which draws a membership from across the region and beyond, it’s also on the sport’s map, having earlier this year hosted the provincial curling championships.
But when not having world renowned players sliding rocks on its ice, the town continues to be host and home for curlers of all stripes.
The local curling club is almost exclusively run by volunteers, but this week member Glenn Paulley was singled out for his dedication to fostering the sport in the community. The long-time member was recognized for significantly developing and coaching the club’s junior program, and allowing a whole new generation of players to pick up the game.
For Paulley, an avid curler turned coach, the award came as a distinct honor, given the number of volunteers it takes to keep the not-for-profit club going.
“Elmira [Curling] is run almost entirely by volunteers,” noted Paulley. “Our ice technician is a paid position and we have a part-time club manager, but everything else that happens at Elmira is done volunteer. Whether it’s the executive or whether it’s someone running the kitchen, or somebody doing coaching or somebody running leagues or draws, or being the treasurer.
“Everything is a volunteer position. So being selected as the outstanding volunteer is very humbling because there’s so many other people at the club who volunteer a lot of hours to keep it running.”
Paulley assisted with the curling club’s Little Rocks program in 2003 before eventually taking on the coaching for both the Little Rocks and Bantam program. During that time, he also joined the club’s board, and served as the director for the junior program.
“He helped with the program for many years and eventually he took over the program. And so he turned it into what it is today,” said Melody Martin, who took over Paulley’s role as the junior curling coordinator.
“The time and commitment that he puts in every week … since 2003, that’s every Sunday that he puts three hours into the club, helping kids learn the sport of curling,” she said.
Drawing in the younger players is especially key for the long-term vitality of the club, notes Martin.
“We all have to work together in order to make the club successful, and continue its growth. It’s unfortunate that in Canada, a lot of the smaller clubs are having to close down because they can’t get the members to keep it going… and they’re not getting the younger generation out,” she said.
Besides growing and developing the junior program, Paulley is also a qualified coach of the sport, for adults as well as kids. His time coaching the young curlers motivated Paulley to train and receive certification as a curling coach.
“The success that we had with coaching the younger athletes prompted me to get additional coaching certification,” explained Paulley. “So I’m now a competition development coach, and I’m on a high-performance team for the curling council.”
Club president Andrew Harbison describes Paulley as an “uber” contributor to the sport. Always willing to dispense with his advice, whether that is on the sheet or on the organizational side of things, Paulley can always be counted on.
“He’s the sort of guy that will give you tips, but not tell you how to curl, which is a lovely thing. If you want advice, he’ll give it to you,” said Harbison.
“I think the key contribution Glenn has really made is to our junior curlers,” he added. “[He] really laid the foundation for a successful program.”