The 2012 BC Men’s curling championships are in full swing down at Parksville Community Park, and suffice it to say parking is at a premium.
“I haven’t seen the parking lot this packed for a long time,” one local remarked as he waited to buy a ticket for Wednesday’s opening ceremonies.
There was the traditional colour guard and piper to bring the teams out onto the ice, and welcoming words from the prerequisite politicians, but what set Wednesday’s opening ceremonies apart from the norm was event chair Peggy Shantz’s heartfelt ode to the fathers.
“We would like to dedicate these opening ceremonies to all the dads in our lives,” she said, then went to to explain that in the past few years, some more recent, “we have lost some very close curling dads,” then went on to share a bit about three of them, starting with Bob Hawkes “who was a major contributor in building this club.
“He just wanted to do everything he could to get curling going in Parksville,” said Shantz, adding, “Bob played every role in this club from club president to teaching new curlers the game.”
Both his children Greg and Georgina went on to curl at a high level — he was Georgina’s coach when she won the 1987 Ladies World Championships playing with Pat Sanders.
Defending B.C. champion skip Jim Cotter had a big smile when Shantz talked about his dad Rick Cotter, who won Curl BC Builder awards as well as coach of the year honours.
“He was a father, a coach, and he helped develop the junior curling program in Kamloops,” Shantz explained to those on hand, pointing out, “for $5 you could curl, get a hot dog and a pop. They had 300 junior curlers in their program.”
All nine of his grandchildren curl.
Also honoured was Brent Pierce’s dad, Glen, a high level curler himself back in the day who competed in the Brier in 1979 and won the ‘82 Canadian Mixed championship.
Glen, who died last September, “will be missed by all the curlers,” said Shantz.
She closed the ceremony by saying, “today, my dad, Glen, Rick, and Bob are at the top looking down, cheering, celebrating the success of all the curlers here and maybe making some bets … this is a tribute to all our dads that make us the best we can be,” she said, and those in attendance marked their agreement with a round of applause.
After the ceremony, a smiling Doug Hamilton, who at 87 and the Parksville Curling Club’s oldest active member, threw the first rock (a great shot that found the button), while Tom Boag, 90, and one of the club’s founding fathers, held the broom for him, and Cotter and PCC’s current and two-time senior ladies Ladies world champion, Cheryl Noble, worked the brooms.
Fast forward to Thursday afternoon, and Penny said the big spiel was unfolding without a hitch.
“It’s going great. We’re getting lots of people down there watching,” she said then explained how Canadian Direct Insurance donated 25 boxes of blankets and cushions for those who want to sit in the stands in the arena.
“It’s cool out there, but it’s got more atmosphere — you get to hear the curlers,” said Shantz.
Thursday night’s A Event qualifier was a battle of unbeatens between Royal City’s Brent Pierce and Jay Tuson from Victoria.
Both teams went into the game 3-0 with the winner becoming the first team to qualify for Saturday’s playoffs. The rest of the pack tries to qualify for the remaining three spots on Friday.
The first draw of the playoffs gets underway at 11 a.m. Saturday and the semifinal goes 7:30 p.m. that night.
The BC Men’s championship game goes 5 p.m. Sunday.