Sports

Viterra Championship gives back

Greg Vandermeulen

WINKLER - 

Grants from the organizing committee of the Viterra Men’s Curling Championship helped three organizations.
Cheque presentations from the 2018 event in Winkler, were made June 5 to the local senior curling program, junior curling program and Special Olympics.
Chair Louis Tanguay said they’ll be able to give a final figure in the coming weeks, but still had some funds coming in at this point.
He said the donations were made to the local groups to give them a boost and say thanks for the work they did at the Viterra Championship.
He credited the senior curling club with helping out at the event, including by supplying volunteers during hours that others find it hard to work.
The Junior program also donated volunteer time, with members carrying placards for the teams as they were introduced. “They were a big part of our opening ceremonies,” he said.
Special Olympics athletes attended as volunteers and fans, and Tanguay said it’s good to give back.
“It’s important,” he said. “Everybody in the community benefits from it.”
“If everybody gives a little bit we’ll be much farther ahead as a community,” he added.
The Senior Curling Club received $1,000, something that will come in handy according to Jake Giesbrecht. “We run a pretty tight ship,” he said adding they don’t like to raise fees if possible. “Seniors are very sensitive to that.”
The club is also in need of more people to come out and take part.
Last year about 25 came out on a weekly basis for the Tuesday afternoon events. Curling teams are made up as people show up so there is no need to arrange teams for the season.
Anyone 50 years or older is welcome to attend.
“The older seniors can’t make it out anymore and the younger seniors don’t want to be called that,” Giesbrecht said.
Rhonda and Conan Kezema head up the Winkler Junior Curling Club. Conan said they haven’t determined the exact plan for spending their $2,200 grant.
“What we’re hoping to do is use it for something that will be long lasting,” he said.
IPads and a printer are needed at this point.
The junior curling program is vibrant with one group composed of Grade 4-9 kids and the other called Little Rockers that caters to K-3 children.
Both clubs totaled about 120 last year. “We’ve grown since 44 about five years ago,” Rhonda explained.
They are expecting growth once again.
“We find that the registration grows after a big event like this,” she said. “Kids have seen it in the community, the promotion in the paper, maybe parents have even attended... then we find the kids want to join curling.”
Conan said they’ve noticed this effect in the past. “We really found a big influx when the Scotties were here, and we’re probably expecting about the same thing this fall as well,” he said.
Special Olympics also received $1,000 for their Winkler operations.
Head Coach Sharon Dueck said they hope to use the funds to replace some old baseball equipment dating back to 1992. They also have a coach that is considering setting up a curling club for the Winkler Wizards, inspired by local athletes.
“We definitely had a number of spectators (at Viterra)... and that’s how the idea of starting a curling club came up,” she said.
The local Special Olympics program remains strong with 20 volunteers running a weekly gym program that includes close to 50 athletes. The 10-pin bowling club is also at capacity with 50 members. Other sports include basketball, baseball, track and bocce.