With everyone seemingly eating everything in sight on Dec. 25, it’s nice to know there’s one event happening the following day where you can work off all of that turkey or whatever meat product you ate on Christmas.

That’s the Koe Family Boxing Day Bonspiel and the latest edition of the fun tournament happened as scheduled on Monday at the Yellowknife Curling Centre. A total of 18 teams battled for the big trophy. In the end, it was the Naugler family — Ben, Adam, Tara and Tom — who walked away victorious. It’s the first time the family has won the event as a unit.

“Finally,” said Tom Naugler on Wednesday. “I’ve won it before, back when the Naugler-Hamer contingent would enter more than one team, but it’s the first time we’ve won it together as just our family.”

The tournament format sees teams split evenly into one of two groups based on competitiveness. That’s so teams stay as close together as possible in terms of skill, and that continues on as teams win or lose their games. Each entry was guaranteed three games and each game consisted of four ends as opposed to a regular game of eight or 10 ends.

The scoring system is different as well — in addition to earning points for having the closest rocks to the button, points are also given to a team that wins an end, along with points for winning a game outright. Whichever team has the most points at the end is declared the winner.

“The scoring format encourages you to rack up the points, if that’s what you want to do,” said Naugler. “It’s still a fun day because you’re always playing against someone close to you in skill.”

To ensure no team is stacked, each entry must have one junior curler and one curler with little to no experience playing the sport. In the latter case, that’s where Ben Naugler came in as he’s the only one of the four who doesn’t curl on a regular basis.

“Ben played so well and he was making a lot of his shots,” said Tom Naugler. “He skipped two of our games and I think he missed maybe one shot in both of those games.”

Because of that, Tom Naugler said they may have to find a new non-curler to play next year when they defend their title.

“I think we have a target in our backs now,” he said with a laugh. “If Ben’s making shots, we’ll need someone else. But the curling gods were on our side. I’m not as competitive as (wife) Tara — she knew we hadn’t won it together as a group — but we all put the effort in to win it.”

Lynda Koe, the event’s organizer, said this was the 24th year that her family has been hosting the event.

She said the community support was wonderful again this year with plenty of prizes donated by businesses around town.

With a bit of luck, she added, next year will be the 25th year for the family playing host.

James McCarthy

I've been hanging around the office as the sports editor for the better part of the last 16 years. In August 2022, NNSL Media decided to promote me to the managing editor's position, which I accepted after...

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