A frustrating winter behind him, Gary Oke is feeling upbeat about the future of curling in Corner Brook.
The Corner Brook Curling Club, with Oke leading the charge as president, took a look at the successes and challenges of the 2017-2018 season at its annual general meeting Monday night.
One of the biggest issues of discussion centered around the ice woes the club experienced the past season, with the club being shut down for nine weeks due to a mechanical issue with the ice plant.
Oke was happy that the problem got fixed when it did because curlers were anxious to get back on the ice. He said he has no worries about it resurfacing because it was an issue that wasn’t as serious as it was tedious, being a minor problem easily fixed once it was finally identified.
Oke said it was a pretty good season overall when he realized that membership numbers never dropped and it didn’t hurt the club as much as he thought it would when it came to the financial side of things.
“We had a loss finically but it was only small, so that’s good,” Oke said, noting a strong volunteer base made it possible for the club to finish the year in pretty good shape.
The other big issue for the club is the desire to increase the numbers by getting new blood into the sport.
Last winter the introduction of a curling social on Friday nights where rock throwers could play a game and enjoy some pizza afterwards proved to be a worthy investment with a number of new people embracing the sport, but it’s the junior curling program where Oke believes the focus has to be when it comes to growing the sport in Corner Brook.
He said there are really impressive male and female curlers making some noise on the ice and that tells him the program is coming along just nicely.
“I’d like to see it higher in numbers, but the quality is there, for sure, so if we can increase our numbers that would be great,” he said.
Oke has been around the block for many years so he knows a thing or two about struggles with the local curling club.
Seeing the club come out of a harsh winter — where a big chunk of the season was missed — in good financial shape and lots to brag about when it comes to success on the ice is much better than the picture he could have painted if things didn’t work out the way they did when curlers were home waiting for the ice to be ready.