Team Gushue curling camp developing next generation of young curlers
88 youth taking part in first-ever St. John's camp
Olympic and world champion curler Brad Gushue says he never got to take part in summer curling camps as a teenager.
But now, Gushue and his team are helping to develop the next generation of curlers at their own week-long camp in St. John's.
"A lot of the stuff that I learned was really through trial and error, so to have world-class coaches like we have here this week to come in and be able to teach that, I would have soaked it up as much as I could," he said.
"It's an opportunity I didn't have, and I'm certainly happy that we're able to give it to 88 kids here this week."
The young curlers, more than 50 of whom are from Newfoundland and Labrador, make up the first ever Team Gushue Summer Camp.
He said the camp is a fun way to help grow the game across Newfoundland and Labrador.
"Number one, it's a lot of fun for the kids, number two, it's a great opportunity to help develop some of the junior curling here in the province," he said.
"A lot of top junior curlers take part in some of these camps all across the country, and we really didn't have one in Atlantic Canada and we figured St. John's is a good spot to have it."
Gushue said the idea of a summer development camp had been considered for awhile, but with improvements to the ice making equipment at the ReMax Centre and the hard work of organizer Leslie Anne Walsh, the time was right to finally hold a camp.
Gushue and his team — Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant and Geoff Walker — will be among the coaches for the week, with Gushue focused on leading strategy sessions. Every young curler will get to take part in one of his off-ice lessons.
"[I'm] really trying to give them an idea of what our team goes through when we're determining which shot to play," he says.
The experiences that they're going to have here this week are going to be something that they're going to remember for the rest of their lives.- Brad Gushue
The young curlers will also work on everything from fitness and nutrition to mental prep and on-ice, technical skills, with fun off-ice activities mixed in.
While the camp will be intensive, with campers spending three to four hours on the ice each day, Gushue said it will be a formative experience for the young curlers.
"They're going to benefit a lot and even if they don't go on to be world-class curlers, or even competitive curlers, the friendships that they're going to make and the experiences that they're going to have here this week are going to be something that they're going to remember for the rest of their lives," he said.
'Quite an opportunity'
Noah Boden and some of his teammates from Quebec City are among the young curlers taking part in the camp. Boden says it's exciting to get the chance to work with Team Gushue.
"It's quite an opportunity. We're all here to learn and have fun," he said.
The foursome that will represent Canada at the Youth Olympics in Lausanne, Switzerland in January — a team that includes Nathan Young of St. John's — are also on the ice at the camp.
Young's teammate, Emily Deschanes from Greely, Ontario, said it's helpful to be able to get advice from curlers who have competed internationally in the past.
"It's great experience to get from them, because some of them have been to the Olympics, so we can get an understanding of what it could be like down there," Deschanes said.
The camp will run until Friday afternoon at the ReMax Centre.
Gushue said the team plans to hold the camp again next summer and he hopes to be able to grow the youth game in Newfoundland and Labrador so that there is enough interest to hold two week-long camps.
"There was a lot of interest this year and the feedback has been really good," he said.
"We want to share this opportunity with as many kids as we possibly can."