A record-breaking number of participants were on the ice at the fifth annual Myrna Sieben “Learn-To-Curl” event at the Lloydminster Golf and Curling Centre this weekend.
“We’ve had to turn people away,” said organizer Claudette Bouvier-Harris. “Each year we have had a few more participants and this year we had 64.”
The children’s curling clinic, which includes a practice session followed by a game, is in memory of Myrna Sieben, a curler and a longtime member of the Border City Optimists Club, which put the event together. Sieben passed away six years ago from a brain tumour at the age of 34.
Bouvier-Harris says Sieben wanted to encourage more people to take up the sport, and the event is helping further that goal.
Several members of the Sieben family attend the event annually, with some even joining in and leading the classes, which are open to children from ages eight to 14.
“All of us eventually will be here at some point today. It’s important to us and we want to support it,” said Myrna’s sister, Bridgette Millen. “We live in Warman, and then my parents and my brother are in Unity and my sister lives just outside of Lloyd. Every year we make an effort to try to be here this weekend.”
Each year the Sieben family donates two curling brooms that are raffled off for children who are new to the sport and don’t have the proper equipment.
“This was always a dream for her, so it’s really nice to see that it can come true even though she’s not here. She’d be really proud,” Millen said. “She was a part of Big Brother Big Sisters, so she’s always loved working with kids and wanted to provide opportunities. So this is something she would be really happy to see.”
Bouvier-Harris says most of the young participants have never curled before and she hopes that after the “Learn-To-Curl” they will register in a curling program, like the Lloydminster Curling Club’s Little Rockers, which is for beginners in grades 3 to 6. She says some of the young instructors at the event came up through that very program.
“It’s great to see that the kids are taking an interest in the curling because some people say it’s a dying sport in our community.” Bouvier-Harris said. “What we’ve noticed is we are able to get the kids to come out to learn to curl and then they are registering in our regular curling programs.
“So it is introducing them to curling and they are continuing on with it.”
Bouvier-Harris says the record turnout is the result of organizers doing a good job of getting the word out through the schools and local media.
“I expect that if we’re going to have (this kind of interest) next year then we’re going to have to do this more than once,” she said.