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Success of junior curlers from the Parkland on the rise


When the 2019 Canola Junior Curling Provincials was held at the Heather Curling Club recently, there was a strong contingent of current and former Parkland curlers taking part.
In fact, almost a quarter of the athletes throwing rocks at provincials had Parkland connections.
Of the 128 curlers at junior provincials, 29 were current or former Parkland residents. And of those 29, 18 were or are part of Curl Manitoba’s Junior High Performance program, which runs out of the Dauphin Curling Club.
But not only are the junior curlers competing, they are also succeeding. Terron Stykalo and Lawson Yates, curling with Brett Walter’s team out of Elmwood, lost in the semifinals, while Lauryn Kuzyk and her teammates on the Mackenzie Zacharias foursome, won the junior women’s provincial title and are currently competing at nationals in Prince Albert., Sask.
Gord Wood and Mark Hadway became involved in junior curling in Dauphin 10 years ago and they have been instrumental in developing the Dauphin Junior Curling Academy, as well as phasing in the high performance program, which is now in its sixth year.
“The whole goal was to see teams evolve in the Parkland and then have healthy competition between the kids in surrounding communities, rather than having them travel all over,” Wood explained.
“Now these kids are becoming competitive. There’s more of them. They’re moving on when they leave here and they’re joining with teams in the city because their skill set is strong enough. They’re being recognized for their abilities.”
And not only are they still competing, they are succeeding, as well, as evidenced by the success of Kuzyk, Stykalo and Yates.
“We’re seeing success and we’re seeing that they’re valued by people out there. And we’re getting a lot of nice and positive comments coming out of the parents and coaches from other communities,”
Wood noted most people may not know where the Parkland curlers are from until they start to get to know them.
“They see how our kids interact with each other and so, when they’re at these events, of course, all the kids from the Parkland know each other. We’re like a little community within ourselves,” he said.
“So all these people, parents and coaches, start to recognize that we’ve got quite the crop of kids coming through.”
A lot of credit has to go to the local coaches, as well. Not only are they involved with their home clubs, Wood said, but they are also on the road, coaching their teams.
“So they’re doing double duty. They’re coaching the young ones so they can come up, the kids that are eight, nine, 10, 11, 12. And then, they’re also taking these competitive teams on the road,” he said, adding that was what he was doing for a lot of years.
“It’s nice to see. And that was our goal all those years ago, just thinking we would like to see a few kids, because there weren’t very many kids that we were seeing going on outside of high school to play.”
Sooner or later, Wood said, some of the young curlers will be competing in Grand Slam events, as well as provincial and national competitions as adults. And that will benefit junior curling in the Parkland.
“It’s nice. It’s exciting. It helps promote the sport in our region. All these kids are also our junior coaches and they do a great job of just being part of promoting the sport. They’re ambassadors of the sport,” he said.

Doug Zywina