Growing the sport of curling starts with youth: Davis

Dave Kearsey
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Donna Davis practises at the Corner Brook Curling Club in 2012. — Star file photo

CORNER BROOK  Donna Davis believes building the junior curling program in the city is the key to growing the sport in Corner Brook.

Davis, a Corner Brook native, is one of the most competitive female curlers throwing stones on the west coast of the province, having represented her club at various provincial and national curling events.

This year’s curling schedule is a hectic one with her participating in The Dominion Championship and the provincial mixed curling championship. She also finds time to coach two of the budding junior teams at the Corner Brook Curling Club.

Once upon a time Davis was throwing stones against the tops in the province at the Scotties Tournament of Hearts, but those days appear to be behind her.

“There’s only so many tournaments you can enter unless you’re rich,” Davis said Tuesday when asked why she didn’t consider playing in the provincial women’s curling championship.

The 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts will get underway in St. John’s today, but the five-team event doesn’t have a representative from western Newfoundland.

Davis said the local curling club doesn’t have the luxury of having a large group of players to pick from like the curling groups on the east coast of the province. And, she said, the number of female curlers throwing stones in the city is not a big group so that poses a challenge to those who would be interested in testing their mettle against the best female curlers in the province.

The introduction of The Dominion a couple of years ago is something Davis feels has been a factor in why the west struggles to have a presence at the Scotties. That particular tournament was designed to cater to the needs of the grassroots curler who, under normal circumstances, wouldn’t get a chance to throw stones at a high level.

“We don’t have a lot of competitive curlers here and since The Dominion has come on stream that’s kind of taken over,” she said.

She has been around long enough to know the future of the sport in the city, whether it’s on the female or male side, is hingent on getting young boys and girls on the ice. That’s a big reason why she continues to lend a helping hand in a coaching capacity for those trying to learn the game.

She’s content to see a handful of youngsters got involved in the junior program this year and hopes to see even more embrace the game over time.

Yes, she admits it will take some patience and understanding.

“We got a couple players this year so we’re going to build on that,” she said.“We’re starting to build it back up again and, of course, it’s going to take some time.”

One thing that has Davis reeling with optimism is the endless possibilities that can be derived from Corner Brook hosting the 2015 national junior curling championship at the Corner Brook Curling Club. She believes the exposure from the event should help get young people excited about the sport and entice them to give it a go themselves.

“That’s going to give it a boost I would say,” she said.

In a city dealing with the reality of an aging population, Davis said the goal is to encourage university students to check out the sport and forge ahead with the promotion of the junior program with hopes of building the numbers year by year.

“Without any juniors coming into the sport you don’t have a sport,” she said.

The 2014 Scotties Tournament of Hearts gets underway today at the Re/Max Centre with five teams — including three former champions — seeking to wear Newfoundland and Labrador’s colours at the national Scotties Tournament of Hearts Feb. 1-9 in Montreal.

The field includes defending champion Stacie Devereaux of Bally Haly, 2012 champion Heather Strong of Bally Haly, 2010 champion Shelley Nichols of the St. John’s Curling Club, Beth Hamilton of Bally Haly and Stephanie Guzzwell of the St. John’s Curling Club.

The tournament will be a single round robin with the top two teams vying for bragging rights in the final showdown Sunday at the Re/Max Centre.

Organizations: Scotties, Max Centre

Geographic location: CORNER BROOK, Newfoundland and Labrador

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