One can claim to be a master at their chosen craft but there’s a good chance that those who have mastered their craft have worked at it.

For others, the goal is to simply be better at what they do.

That’s where the Yellowknife Curling Centre comes in.

The centre played host to the second of three sessions of instruction for seniors on Jan. 16 with close to 20 people coming through the doors. Everyone who took part got the basics in how to clean a rock, how to properly sweep and how to deliver, among other instruction.

Robert O’Rourke is the organizer for the sessions and said the turnout for the second session was around the same as the first session last month.

“I was expecting two or three more people to show up,” he said. “We’re just grateful to the (Active, Resilient, Connected) program for the help they gave us.”

O’Rourke was talking about the program formerly known as Get Active NWT. operated by the NWT Recreation and Parks Association. It gave out grants of up to $1,000 for organizations which offered recreational programs to the public with the important caveat that they be free of charge.

Ben McDonald is all concentration as he works on his delivery as part of the seniors instructional session at the Yellowknife Curling Centre on Jan. 16.

Everyone was put into one of three groups to begin and hit each station for approximately 30 minutes. The final 30 minutes was set aside for a game situation where everyone put what they had learned into practice.

And lest you think safety was put on the back burner for this event, everyone was socially distanced and wore a mask for the duration of the session.

Some of the participants were absolute beginners and spent time with Brian Kelln, a veteran curler and coach, who broke the game down step by step with them.

O’Rourke said he was amazed at how good they were doing after just a short amount of time with Kelln.

“For those ladies to be doing what they did (delivering) after just coming in the door is great,” he said. “Brian is very skilled as a player and coach and working on delivery is very important. The whole game is based around delivery.”

One of the stations featured two junior curlers, Parker Waddell and Chasity O’Keefe, shooting video of players delivering stones, which was then played back for each curler to see what they were doing right and what could be worked on.

O’Rourke said players can sometimes tell what they need to work on but someone else could show them in slo-motion.

“We can show them how they can place their feet, where they go in the hack, hand release, those sorts of things,” he said. “When you put all of the minute steps together, it all needs to flow so when you have video from the back, the side and the front, it points out all of those situations.”

Positive reinforcement was the key to the video portion, he added.

Some players have moved on to take part in the seniors curling drop-in program, which is run by Larry and Cappy Elkin and happens every Monday afternoon at the centre.

O’Rourke said the numbers for that have grown and the instructional sessions is a reason for that.

“Many of the people who come here have seen their skill significantly improve and you can see them improve as well in the seniors program on Mondays,” he said.

The final session will be on Feb. 20 with a funspiel as part of the day.

Last year’s funspiel brought in 12 teams, said O’Rourke, and the scoring will be the same as the annual Koe Family Boxing Day Bonspiel with points awarded for rocks scored in an end, winning the end and winning the game but there’s one other way teams can score points.

“We give bonus points for any team which has a player over the age of 70,” he said.

James McCarthy

After being a nomad around North America following my semi-debauched post-secondary days, I put down my roots in Yellowknife in 2006. I’ve been keeping this sports seat warm with NNSL for the better...

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