Minden rink competes with province’s best
There’s more to sport than winning it all for local young Minden curlers, representing Archie Stouffer Elementary School and the Minden Curling Club, who finished 18th out of 72 teams at the Pinty’s Provincial Elementary School Curling Championships held April 5 to 8 in Carleton Place.
The team responded well to the pressure and was not only supported by the local club, but got their start there too.
Winners of the I division championship, the young Minden rink of skip Kaelem Little in Grade 6; vice and Grade 7 student Kayla Switzer; second and Grade 8 student Cole Boisvert; and lead and Grade 7 student Broden Boisvert have reason to be proud of their achievement.
The championships included elementary school aged students (up to Grade 8) from all over Ontario.
Coach Derek Little said this event was a great experience and helped motivate the team for next year.
After the second game, Little remembers how Broden, who had expressed a desire to possibly leave curling, declared how much fun he had and said he wants to return next year to compete.
“They’re all looking forward to next year already,” Little said, referencing Pinty’s next host Ganonoque.
It was a slow start for the Minden rink.
After losing two out of three games, the team strung together three wins in a row, including a 6-5 win to secure the I division championship. It was a strong bounce-back after a slow start.
The team finished the tournament with an overall record of 4-2.
This rink only formed this year and practised together four times, making their achievement all the more impressive and inspiring.
For Broden and Cole, this was just their second year of curling. In contrast Kayla and Kaelem, step-siblings, have been curling for twice as long and have grown to love the sport, which complements their quiet demeanour and from watching their older sibling curl competitively.
All of them started at the Minden Curling Club and have been curling after school every Thursday for close to two hours.
Little, a longtime high school teacher, believes the solid performance of these young curlers could be the start of greater things to come. He referenced the recent success of the young Haliburton curlers who represented the Jaguars of J. Douglas Hodgson Elementary School and the Haliburton Curling Club.
“That’s how you build a team, a program, anything so in Minden we have a ton of kids right now, but it’s all volunteers too. Let’s not kid ourselves. It’s the only way these programs can run. It’s all through volunteers. No one gets paid,” he said. The Jaguars team finished first, second,fourth and sixth.
Little, who is nearing 50 and recognizes he is among the younger volunteers at the club in Minden, is concerned about the future of curling in Minden. More coaches are needed. He invites community volunteers to help the club’s young curlers.
Besides the strong results at competition, Little said, he was impressed by how a competition like this can keep young curlers interested. The format of the event worked under the premise of win and stay in the A division while subsequent losses will move teams down to lower streams or divisions such as B and C, etc. A team would be out of any championship contention after four losses.
Little appreciates this format for up and coming curlers.
“It’s a really cool concept to try and make it fair for kids who are there who probably haven’t played a great deal. If you lose your first two games your third game is going to be against somebody else who lost their first two games so they’re really trying to break this up for people of all abilities.”
The event disallowed coaches from speaking with players during play so it leaves everything up to the curlers. This provides a chance for development, as curlers must call their game the way they see it.
Little knows this foursome has not been as engaged this past year and could see how much of a difference it made for them to play curlers of their own calibre.
“Not taking anything away from Thursday night [at the Minden Curling Club]. It’s awesome to introduce kids to curling. The downside has been for the older kids, these four in particular, there really aren’t a lot of other kids their age. Grade 3, Grade 4 or Grade 5 they are the predominant age group,” he said.
He acknowledges the benefits of their mentoring and the value it has for everyone at the club. However, what often happens is the foursome breaks up and skips teams of younger curlers, who are often still working on the basics of throwing and sweeping, it is difficult for them to remain engaged.
Little is hoping to organize a way to bring the three remaining of this elementary school foursome (Cole will be in Grade 9) to go to the Haliburton Curling Club and play more than just once a week. The added ice time with other intermediate curlers can only help.
Sport brings value to the development of children, Little said. When children like these curlers compete in sport there is a benefit that goes beyond on-ice results.
“Curling has pressure whether it’s calling the team on to sweep, whether it’s actually sweeping it. There’s a lot of pressure every time the rock comes down the ice in terms of calling it. So, why not be able to associate the pressure in sport to being able to handle pressures in life,” he said.
He said it helps them to learn how to handle the pressure of competition and, ultimately, handle loss for life.