The St. Albert Curling Club held its first league events of the season last week.
General Manager Nicole Bellamy said people have been excited to curl in a semi-normal environment, and with safety in mind, the club went through a process to make sure it's a safe environment, too.
“We, ahead of the recent announcement by the Alberta government, had already told our members that we were asking for proof of vaccination,” said Bellamy. “We asked Mayor Cathy Heron for advocacy. She brought it to the council meeting [on Sept. 14] where they spoke with their legal counsel and said that we were good to open up with more stringent restrictions.”
The club will only be accepting double vaccinated members to curl at its facility. While many other venues in the province provide the option of submitting a negative COVID test, that will not be an option at the curling club.
As for how the curling has gone, the club hosted 37 leagues last week, with upwards of 100 new members. Bellamy said the feeling of seeing people out on the ice is fantastic.
“When we got off the ice, our assistant manager Taina Smiley said it was so good to be in a place where all our worries went away,” said Bellamy. “When you are out [on the ice] all you think about is the here and now… Everything on the warm side of the glass doesn’t matter.
“It felt like coming from a spa … it was refreshing and heartwarming to see people interacting in a safe environment.”
Apart from league play, the club is hosting clinics and camps for newcomers to the sport.
“We still have room for a few people in our adult learn-to-curl program on Friday nights,” said Bellamy. “Our family learn-to-curl program takes place on Saturday mornings, and it is an opportunity for grandparents to curl with their grandkids; parents with their kids; and maybe cousins, aunts, and uncles as well.”
The club is looking forward to a variety of events and bonspiels over the next few months. The bonspiel season will kick off in early November when the club hosts the men's and women's event Nov. 5 to 7. This will be followed by a 50+ stick bonspiel Dec. 16 and 17.
Bellamy is also excited the club is set to host a part of the Alberta Curling Tour in late February.
“For the first time the Alberta Curling Tour Bonspiel will come here in February,” said Bellamy. “This will bring in grassroots to the competitive level [for St. Albert curlers].”
The whole opening process has been hectic. The days are long for Bellamy as she tries to ensure that everyone is having the best time possible but, with the club now requiring everyone to be double vaccinated, she said everybody is feeling a lot safer.
“Once we’re all in the building it feels like a safe and normal environment,” said Bellamy. “It’s kind of magical.”