BUFFALO, N.Y. (WKBW) — Kids and curling: up until recently, it was something that children could do for fun, but now it's a real option for kids as a serious sport.
"We're really excited," Corey Bower tells AM Buffalo co-host Emily Lampa. "We've been talking about this for years . . . having youth curling."
Bower runs the Youth Curling Program at the Buffalo Curling Club. He admits, it hasn't been easy getting the youth program up and running.
"It was a challenge getting the volunteers and getting some training," Bower explains, "and we had to get a grant to get the youth rocks that they can actually push, because the adult rocks are 40 plus pounds. We have 30 pound kids, trying to push these rocks, and just getting stuck. So, we finally got a couple grants and then the pandemic hit. Finally, in the spring, we started. We brought a couple schools here."
The Youth Curling Program started by meeting every other Saturday morning. With increased interested, they're now offering youth curling sessions weekly. There are still four sessions left this season: March 26, April 2, April 9, and April 23. They're off on Easter weekend.
The hope, says Bower, is that by next year they'll offer two sessions on Saturdays and one session on Sundays.
Thanks to grant funding, the Buffalo Curling Club is hosting a Youth Curling Camp this weekend.
On Sunday, professional instructors from USA Curling will be there to teach on and off-ice topics such as delivery, sweeping, training drills, ice reading, strategy, and mental preparedness.
Up to 50 kids can participate. They offer a full-day camp or kids can join for a half-day. The full-day camp is $30/child for members and $50/child for non-members. The half-day camp is $20/child for members and $30/child for non-members.
Emily Lampa's kids joined the program at the beginning of the season! Check out what her kids, other children, and volunteer coaches had to say about the new Youth Curling at the Buffalo Curling Club!
"The whole club . . . 100% volunteers," said Bower proudly. "We have no paid staff members. We have some former teachers and people who are coming out on their own time, after work, or sometimes during work...and on their weekends. I have probably 50 people who are putting in multiple hours a week here at the club. Everything (you see here) was built by volunteers. They take care of the ice. We get the rocks all sanded down and ready to go. (We) tell people how to curl, get everything organized, get everyone signed up, etc."
Darrell Skelton is one of the volunteer coaches. He admits he's grateful youth curling is available again in Buffalo.
"I started curling when i was 12 years old at the old Buffalo Curling Club in Williamsville," recalls Skelton. "We had quite a large program with probably over a hundred kids curling a couple of afternoons a week."
Skelton isn't just an enthusiast, he's a competitor. "I had the great opportunity of curling in the United States Men's National Championships in 1991, with a group of guys here in Western New York."
One could say curling is in his blood. "My mother curled in the US Women's National Championships three times!" Skelton told Emily Lampa with a grin.
Now his granddaughters have the opportunity to follow in their footsteps.
"It almost brings tears to my eyes thinking about my grandchildren out here curling and continuing a family legacy," said an emotional Skelton. "This is almost a dream come true, to see a new generation of curlers here in Buffalo, NY."
He added, "I'd love to see some universities or some of the city schools put it in as part of their sports programs."
"There are three places that you can curl in Buffalo," explains Bower. "There's only one that's indoors and that's actually made to professional curling standards. There's only one that's a non-profit; and so, by curling at the Buffalo Curling Club, you are supporting a 300 member club that is 100% volunteers, that is a certified 501-c3. We accept all donations willingly, but we would rather have your time than your money. We want you to come out and experience curling because, I think, once you do, you'll see why we love it so much."