Seniors in the Parkland Valley area often lament on how “things were” in years past. There is reason for that. Many of today’s seniors grew up in an era when the rural population was much higher. With the higher population local events had more people to draw from and the workload was spread more evenly. It is for that reason we should be impressed with how some local sports have “hung in there.”
To me, curling is a perfect example of this. It is expensive to keep the curling rinks operating. There are fewer seniors living in the rural areas, some of the seniors are snowbirds and the average age of the local senior is older. Yes, a lot of challenges to the sport; yet, the senior curlers persevere. In the last couple of years, it seems the small town curling bonspiels have held their own. Often there are 20-plus senior teams competing in a local tournament.
It is not a small commitment to enter a curling bonspiel. It involves driving miles for three or four days in a row through winter driving conditions. Yet these committed “rock chuckers” seem determined to keep the sport alive. I believe that some of the credit goes to the curling fraternity. They realized that changes needed to be made, such as the use of a stick to curl, two person teams and mixed teams. Time has shown that these changes have made curling more appealing to the average sporting enthusiast.
In past years the Parkland Valley District not only had winning curling teams at the Saskatchewan Senior Fitness Association Games, but also teams that brought home national honors. However, in recent years, the SSFA has had trouble drawing teams to their events. At the local level, senior curling activity is quite strong, yet this does not translate to participation at the provincial senior games. We at the board level are struggling with the apparent paradox.
I realize that seniors, for the most part, have extensive itineraries that leave little room for extra activity. It is reassuring to see senior curling maintain its momentum at the grassroots level and clubs hosting sporting and social events in our small towns and villages. Also some of the senior curlers are mentoring our young aspiring curlers so that we can keep this team sport alive.
This year the Parkland Area was especially blessed with having the Grand Slam in Yorkton in January and the men’s and women’s provincial playdowns in Melville in February. This increased level of curling activity can only help build momentum for the future.