Teenage curlers were in the house on Sunday, participating in the Optimist Junior Interclub Curling League’s (OJICL) Division 1 playoffs.
Twelve teams of participants with ages ranging from 13 to 18, took to the Langley Curling Club to be part of the annual event.
These teams won their respective blocks by winning two playoff games with the semi-finals in the morning and the finals Sunday afternoon.
Winners of A Block – Team Emily Bowles, Ashley Mallett, Grace McCusker, Kate Bowles and Sarah McCrady with Coaches Marla Mallett and Mike Bowles representing the Delta Thistle Curling Club.
Winners of B Block – Team Fei with Eugene Fei, Adam Fenton, Evan Fenton and James McCreedy with Coaches Fuji Miki and Brad Fenton representing the Golden Ears Winter Club, Port Moody, Delta Thistle and Royal City Curling Clubs.
Winners of C Block – Team Sargeant with Dayton Sargeant, Roxanna Bot, Luke Krautsieder and Wesley Wu with Coach Nico Bot representing the Langley Curling Club.
OJICL has offered youths a place to try out the popular winter sport since 1989, and held this particular interclub championship for 23 years.
Al Kersey, OJICL administrator, said the league’s roots are in Cloverdale, but has since shifted its base to Langley where teams come to play from all over the Lower Mainland.
“We would like to expand,” Kersey said, “but we compete with teams from Seattle to Gibsons to Chilliwack and everywhere in between.”
Made up of four different divisions that cater to different age groups and experience levels, Kersey added that the games at this particular tournament go faster than regular bonspiels.
“The players have school, a social life, and work all going on, so we keep that in mind. We play double headers that are finished in half the regular time with blocks of four teams in three round robin games.”
The season begins at the end of September and is made up of bi-weekly games and practises held at the Langley Curling Club.
Two awards were handed out at a subsequent banquet; one for a mixed team of players from all across the Lower Mainland, who scored the highest number of points overall during the season.
The other team was lead by 14-year-old Langley resident Brandon Leung, who took the Optimist Junior Interclub Curing League title.
Leung, the team’s skip, who was also participating in Sunday’s tournament, said he had been playing for five years and felt collaboration was key to their success.
“It’s a team sport and you get to bond with others and maybe meet new rivals; it’s kind of like tennis,” Leung said. “As the skip, I make sure that our team collaborates on what to do so everyone gets a say.”
Kersey said the playoff wraps up the league’s season, which does finish earlier compared to most other curling leagues that tend to go into March and April.
But that’s done so members can turn their attention to other curling games including the upcoming BCWG Zones and U18 Regionals tournaments.
The league will officially wrap up March 1 with a recreational tournament and instructional curling workshop.
OJICL is sponsored by Optimist International, a worldwide volunteer organization that funds sports teams, teaches the importance of public speaking, and enacts a mandate to hold an upbeat outlook no matter the challenge.
For more information on the curling league, people can visit www.optimistjuniorcurling.ca.
Is there more to this story?