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Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic Competition, Grassroots Style

We Canadians all hope the final game in the Olympic Curling competition comes down to Kevin Martin's last rock (against Great Britain's David Murdoch probably). And (of course) we all hope that the rock doesn't slide a couple of inches deep, as it did the last time Kevin had a shot at the gold medal.

(On that occasion, our entire Monday Night Curling League at the Guelph Country Club dropped our brooms and came into the club room to watch the final rocks of the last end. When it was over, and we had recovered a little, I found it very hard to return to my game. The disappointment was so intense - and I was just a lowly club curler watching it on TV in Ontario. I couldn't begin to imagine what Kevin and his team were feeling...)

So here's to Olympic curling, and the hours and hours and HOURS of practice and competition and dedication it took these athletes to get there. Those of us who have dabbled in competitive curling might understand how tough it is. So few of us actually get to those elite levels. That's ok, though, Grassroots Curlers. Competition is competition - a test of skills, both physical and mental - no matter what level you compete at.

My short-lived career as a "competitive" curler happened in the small town of Vankleek Hill, in Eastern Ontario. I joined a team with three other novices and we entered bonspiels and events intended expressly for "new" curlers with less than 3 or 5 years' experience. We had a blast travelling around to clubs in our region and as far away as Ottawa and Montreal.

And we won our share too! See us proudly holding our trophy at the Navan Curling Club near Ottawa, some time in the early 1990s (I'm second from the right). And we posed on the ice with our competitors at the Lachine Curling Club after winning some other event. That's me, far right, looking pretty cool in my team jacket and (fashionistas, please turn away now) hat.

So cheer for Kevin (or John, or David, or Cheryl, or Annette - whoever draws your Olympic allegiance) but don't forget to dream your own competitive curling dreams, no matter what modest heights you achieve.

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