Events like Super Soccer, Spike It! and the NWT Track and Field Championships are already established on the NWT sports calendar.
NWT Curling is hoping its new event will join the list.
The inaugural Rock The Rings bonspiel finished up at the Yellowknife Curling Centre on Sunday a total of 13 teams from Yellowknife, Hay River and Inuvik competing in two divisions in the hope of being crowned the first-ever champions. When the dust settled, Kayla Sanderson of Inuvik skipped her U12 team to victory while Kali Skauge was the victorious skip on the U15 side.
Nick Saturnino, president of NWT Curling, said for the first time, it was a success.
“We were hoping there may have been a few more teams from Hay River and in Fort Smith, we know there isn’t much of a junior program right now,” he said. “We were close to what we had expected.”
Each division had its own playing format with each of the nine teams in the U12 division getting four games in a modified round-robin. After that, there were games to determine the champions, third place, fifth place and seventh place. In the U15 division, each of the four teams played a round-robin with the top two teams moving on to play for the title.
Having an event like this has been rolling around in Saturnino’s head for a while, he said, and getting Yellowknife on board was the key to making it all happen.
“It’s going to be an annual event and it’s a lot of work for the organizing committee,” he said. “I know our kids from Inuvik were excited to come and play and I have kids who want to play next year because they want to be part of the trip. The intent is to have the kids come to Yellowknife and if we can have a big event where they want to come, let’s do it.”
While this is a tournament per se, the idea behind it is to help prepare the younger curlers for the Canadian U18 and Canadian Junior Championships, if that’s the route they so desire to take down the road.
Saturnino said he’s hoping the U12 teams that competed will become the U15 teams of the future.
“They’ll get to compete in the U15 tournament but also compete for the U18 nationals,” he said. “Hopefully, we’ll get more teams because 13 just isn’t enough. We need to double that minimum and if that number grows to 30 to 40, that’s even better for us.”
Ella Skauge was one of those U12 players who curled on the weekend and played on the team that finished fourth.
She said it was a fun weekend and a good chance to see other curlers from around the territory.
“We got to meet players from different communities,” she said. “There were lots of players from Inuvik and I hadn’t met most of them before but they were really fun to be around and the whole weekend was lots of fun.”
In terms of the game play, Skauge said she found it exactly what she expected it would be.
“Some of the other players were really good, especially the Inuvik players,” she said. “That’s because Nick is their coach and he’s really good.”
As for next year, Saturnino said he expects that some more players and teams will join in, especially when those who played this year tell the stories about how the first year went.
“When they see what the winning teams got (championship banner and jackets), I’m thinking they’ll want to win one of those,” he said. “The winning teams get to design their own jackets and that’s going to happen over the next six weeks. I don’t think a lot of the kids realize that and hopefully, they’ll try a bit harder next year to win.”