The Home Stretch
Last year I had the opportunity to play in the Ship Hector Bonspiel for the first time and enjoyed myself so much I’m back for another round.
Since I started curling I’ve had the opportunity to play in multiple clubs and events throughout the Maritimes and central Canada, but sometimes the best things are right in front of you.
From the opening gathering at the Bluenose Curling Club, where you draw your first game, to being knocked out of the Hector on Sheet 3 at the New Caledonian in Pictou (the same one we won our opening game on), it was nothing but a great experience last year.
I’m not sure 100 per cent what it is about the weekend that makes it such a great event, but it starts when you get the booklet on Friday night. You get to see the history of the event and some of the recent teams that have won various divisions. For someone who had never played in the event before it was interesting to see how big a deal this historic event is to the community and the curlers.
Once you pick your team number you figure out where you fall in the tree and which of the four clubs you’re starting your weekend at. It tends to even the playing field slightly when you’re playing on multiple ice surfaces, plus it adds some excitement to the event, as opposed to playing all games at the same club.
As a member of the Bluenose I had never played at another club in Pictou County until the Hector, where we had the opportunity to play in Pictou and Stellarton. No matter what team we played they were great sports and we enjoyed getting to talk with them after the game before heading off to our next draw and curling club.
Playing with my dad, my friend Jim and his dad Lynn Coleman, who came to visit from Winnipeg, we had the chance to show them around the county. They had never been to Nova Scotia, let alone Pictou County, and they definitely enjoyed themselves. Of course we had some time to get some Pictou County pizza into them from Acropole and Andre’s before they left.
Again, having not played in the bonspiel before I didn’t know what to expect, so I was slightly nervous having some family friends come all this way to play in it, but they thoroughly enjoyed themselves and wanted to come back this year. Unfortunately they were unable to, but now I know I’ll constantly be looking to have friends come visit and enjoy such a great weekend.
This year’s event sold out in November, and after playing in it, it’s easy to see why. For club curlers this is a fantastic weekend that you can’t really compare to anything else in the province at this level. Talking with Scott Maston, one of the bonspiel committee members, about it selling out, he said he was surprised it reached capacity that early, but not that it actually sold out.
In its 42nd year they have it down to a science on how to run things, but that doesn’t mean there haven’t been rough patches. Maston said in recent years they’ve had to start a waiting list and if the great reviews keep coming there is little doubt that will continue to be a trend in the future.
Best of luck to all teams competing this weekend. Enjoy it.
Christopher Cameron is the sports reporter for The News and can be reached at email@example.com on Twitter @NGNewsChris. His column runs weekly on Wednesdays.