“There’s a committee and they’ve been working really hard to figure out how to find that balance,” said Gord Copithorne, president of the Cochrane Curling Club, describing the logistics of letting people play the game while keeping players safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. “Hopefully with as little impact on what people perceive as normal.”
The committee is made up of two board members from the Cochrane Curling Club, the curling facilitator at the Spray Lake Sawmills Family Sports Centre and two volunteers from the curling community.
The committee has been meeting once a week for nearly two months to plan the upcoming season.
“They’ve been doing a pretty bang-up job of minimizing the impacts so that people can go play the game they know and love.”
Copithorne said there are two or three big changes people will have to get used to. Staggered ice times and the social impacts of not having as many members in one place at a time will be some of the changes, but for the most part, it will be “good old fashioned curling."
“The core of it is about how to facilitate all of the different players through the daily play,” he said. “It’s kind of a dance in its own regard because you have all of these regulations … Given down by the government and the organizing bodies of curling, and at the same time you have a membership of several hundred people.”
Copithorne added the organizing committee is taking a minimalist approach to the management of the upcoming season, and is asking membership exercise some discretion as they go about participating in the upcoming season.
“Instead of making a 50-page manual on how to do this, it’s a few pages thick with the expectation that people exercise good judgment,” Copithorne said. “Good judgment and discretion allows us to run the leagues with as little oversight and baggage as possible.”
In terms of programming offered by the club, Copithorne said, the season looks fairly similar to any other year.
“We always took the approach that we were going to run things as normal, and if something went horribly, respond. But, in all honesty, it has unfolded very similarly to any previous season,” he said. “We’re a little less than full, but we’re always a little less than full. We’ll encourage community members to join us. We’re always open to new members coming out to join us.”
There are still women’s, men’s, mixed, mixed doubles, open, senior and youth programming offered by the club.
In light of the ever-changing situation, the Club has decided to postpone any official tournaments until after the holiday season this year.
“We decided not to run any bonspiels before Christmas, just because of the newness of everything, but everything after Christmas, which is our standard fare, the ladies, the men’s and the mixed are still as planned,” he said. “We didn’t want to promise something and only half deliver.”
He noted that due to the travel restrictions in place, the Club might actually see an influx of participants this year.
“There’s an interesting optimism that we may end up with extra curlers this year,” he said.
The Cochrane Curling Club has launched a new website, where you can find the full schedule of programming for the upcoming season or register as a member of the club.
Visit cochranecurlingclub.com/ for more information.