by Caroline Medwell
I took up curling at the age of 55. My last child was heading off to university, and life as an empty nester lay before me. Terrified of becoming a lazy, wine-sipping couch potato, I decided to start a new activity. I picked curling. Why curling? Who really knows!!? I did have a friend who curled and loved it, and my daughter and niece had a lot of fun curling together on their high school team. So, in late September, I made myself be brave and headed off to the Welcoming Open House at my local curling club.
I immediately loved the wood paneled, trophy lined lounge/bar area, with the floor to ceiling windows overlooking six sheets of ice in a shed covered with banners and pennants. Delicious homemade food lay in platters on the many round tables, people stood or sat in groups, talking and laughing, and the welcoming committee really did make me feel welcome. I signed up for ‘Wednesday Women’ and a Learn to Curl session and went home feeling both eager and anxious.
That first year had its ups and downs. Assigned to play lead on a team patched together by the section’s Drawmaster, I struggled every week for the first few months. Game day would find me anxious and stressed about getting on the ice. I worried about everything: getting into the hack, sliding out of the hack, getting back to the hack, throwing the right weight, line and handle, sweeping, guessing the rock’s final landing spot, obeying the rules, understanding the etiquette, meeting new people. But about halfway through one of those early games, I realized that I was thoroughly enjoying myself. I really liked the women I curled with, as well as the fact that I was for the first time in my life on a sports team. Curling was relatively easy to start doing, yet complex and intricate enough to provide challenge, growth, learning and improvement (or backslides!) every single game. And every week, when we sat down for the post-game drink, I would meet another set of four women and be treated to a great conversation, some laughs and often, a close neighbour or new friend. (The bonus was that we lost every game that first year, so the post-game drink was free!!). I remained nervous before every game that season, but gradually the fun overcame the fear.
It’s ten years later now. Curling is an important part of my life and I’m an active member of my club. I love the women on my team, and all the curling friends I’ve made. I love the chill of the ice shed, the warmth of the lounge, the camaraderie of play and the thrill of the game. I love pushing out from the hack and feeling steady. I love making a good shot, landing where and how my skip directed. I love sweeping hard, calling the rock correctly and cheering on others. I don’t like playing poorly, but I love that whenever that happens, we still have fun and laugh a lot. I am retiring in a few weeks, and thrilled to soon be able to be a Day Lady. Most recently, a friend and I bid on a coveted item in a local bonspiel’s silent auction for charity and won a training session for four with the generous and talented John Epping. We get to have a drink with him afterward and are SO excited.
Curling and its people have enriched my life in many ways. I can’t wait to get back on the ice.