Swept away: more young players joining Goose Bay Curling Club
Call it the Brad Gushue effect: curling's catching on with young people in Labrador
Walking into the Goose Bay Curling Club is like stepping back into the 1970s.
The walls, painted rich shades of orange and red, are lined with hand-painted signs reminding curlers of proper technique.
There are ads up for a radio station and a phone company that no longer exist. And in the lounge, a small tube TV shows — what else — Olympic curling.
The time warp ends when a Drake song starts blaring over the PA system. After everyone pays the registration fee for tonight's "funspiel," the players take to the ice.
The decor may be aging, but the club's membership is getting younger. Like Mr. T said, curling is cool.
Behind the bar, 26-year-old club president Jenn Mitchell takes drink orders.
"It's such a good crowd and such a good time," Mitchell said, "I just love the sport."
Lose the game, win the round
Three years ago, then-31-year-old Mark Urquhart started a team of "four fellers that had never stepped out on the ice."
The team lost every game they played — but winners buy the rounds, so it wasn't a bad year.
"The club here is full of fantastic people and it's quite a culture," Urquhart said, "It's just a real fun atmosphere."
Urquhart says after the Brier came to St. John's in 2017, the club saw more new faces.
"There's been more and more younger people getting involved," he said, "These have been two very successful years for the club."
The endorsement from TV-star-slash-wrestler Mr. T didn't hurt either, Urquhart says.
"I pity the fool who don't curl," he laughs, doing his best impression.
Lets go Men, Keep your eyes on the prize. Don't get distracted by the pants Norway’s wearing. That’s called wardrobe warfare! Grrr <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/curlingiscoolfool?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#curlingiscoolfool</a> <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/GoTeamUSA?src=hash&ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#GoTeamUSA</a>—@MrT
All skill levels are welcome
Before the games get going, Ryan Wheaton gives a lesson to the newbies. He goes over how to slide, how to hold a broom — the basics.
With almost 18 years experience Wheaton is one of the most seasoned curlers at the event, but he's only 29.
"It was at a friend's birthday party when I was only 11," Wheaton said of his first time curling, "then I just wanted to join and signed up in a junior's program."
Start 'em young
Members say recruiting young players is key to growing the club.
When Mitchell was in junior high, the club had a program for teenage curlers — that's how she got her start.
For the past few seasons, there hasn't been a junior program in Happy Valley-Goose Bay. Members say they're getting requests from families to get out on the ice, so they're planning to start the program back up.
"When you get into junior curling, that's the future of your club," Urquhart said. "Our goal is to get as many young people included as possible."