A new Curling Alberta program that aims to increase diversity in the sport and introduce it to youth is coming to Airdrie this weekend.
Ready to Rock is a new Curling Alberta program catered to youth ages nine to 15. According to Shannon Kleibrink, the director of community curling centre development for Curling Alberta, the program includes 50 come-try-it sessions held across the province.
Kleibrink, a former Team Canada member and Olympic bronze-medalist in curling, said the program originated thanks to a JumpStart grant, and is sponsored by the Federation of Alberta Gas Co-ops Ltd. She said a key part of Ready to Rock is introducing curling to black, indigenous, and people of colour (BIPOC) youth, as well as kids from financially marginalized backgrounds.
“It’s to encourage the participation of BIPOC youth ages nine to 15 to try the sport of curling – maybe some kids whose parents never played, who otherwise would have never had curling on their radar,” she said. “It’s been great so far, and super successful.”
Curling Alberta’s website states Ready to Rock will accommodate up to 4,800 participants at more than 50 curling clubs.
According to Kleibrink, Ready to Rocky has already held 27 come-try-it sessions around the province this season, including communities as isolated as High Level. With 50 come-try-it sessions offered in total, she noted there are still 23 to go.
“Really, it’s just to get more youth in the game overall,” Kleibrink said. “The program is open to everyone, but originally, it’s to increase diversity in curling.”
Locally, a come-try-it session will be held at the Airdrie Curling Club on Jan. 30, from 10 a.m. to noon. Kleibrink noted 2010 Olympic silver-medalist Carolyn Darbyshire will lead the two-hour session, which will introduce participants to curling's most fundamental skills.
The session is free and equipment will be provided, according to Kleibrink, who said the Airdrie event will accommodate youth ages eight to 15.
“People just need to show up in stretchy pants,” she laughed.
For participants who take to the sport, Kleibrink said Ready to Rock offers a subsidized eight-week learn-to-curl program for just $20.
For parents who are hesitant about signing their kids up for the Jan. 30 session, Kleibrink said there are many reasons to give Ready to Rock a try, including its affordability and social nature.
“It may not be on their radar right now, but once the kids try it, what we’re finding is that almost all of them want to stay for the eight-week program,” she said. “It’s just a fun thing for kids to do if they’ve never tried it.”
For more information, visit curlingalberta.ca/ready-to-rock-program/