Break out the brooms and get ready to hurry hard, a new season is getting underway at the Fort Frances Curling Club.
While the world isn’t quite out from under the spectre of COVID-19, curling club board member Christine Denby said the club is gearing back up for a new season, with a few modifications aimed at making signing up as convenient as possible.
“We did something different this year,” denby said.
“We know other clubs do online registration, and the Northern Ontario Curling Association and Ontario Curling Association have a means of doing online registration and payment, but it was going to cost us 3 or 4 percent for handling fees, and we decided we could do registration without all of that.”
To that end, the club came up with a custom online registration form that can be easily filled out and submitted to the club. Payment for those who are interested in registering online can be e-transferred to keep everything safely distanced, but also as direct as possible. Online registration will be available to curlers from September 1 until September 24. E-transfer payments can be made to firstname.lastname@example.org. A note identifying what team is being paid for and who the team members are should accompany the payment.
Granted, not everyone can or wants to register online or pay through e-transfer, which is why Denby noted they will still accept in-person registration and offline forms of payment.
“The idea was to give people a little more flexibility,” she said.
“We know some of our curlers like the idea of an online registration, so many people don’t have cheques. But we have a large population who only want to pay by Visa or cheques. We have a spectrum of members, so we’re trying to appeal to as many people as we can.”
Of course, the trade-off for in-person registering is there needs to be physical interactions, hence two in-person registration nights will be held tonight and tomorrow, September 15 and 16 upstairs at the curling club from 6:30 p.m. until 7:30 p.m. Both registration nights and online registration are for curlers of all leagues. Registration forms, along with membership rates, schedules and league waivers are all available on the club’s website at www.curlfortfrances.com.
Like last year’s modified season, there will still be some restrictions and changes to how curling will flow this year. Many of the rules in place last year regarding entry and exit, personal distancing and locker usage will remain in place. Denby said that while the details surrounding some other elements of the season are still being sorted out, the club has already agreed to follow the recommendations from the health unit.
“We have made it very clear that we are going to comply with the health units and the province, so by the time curling starts, our members will have to be vaccinated,” she explained.
“We’re in the process of coming up with how we’re going to deal with that. All that stuff we’re going to sort out.”
One unfortunate victim of continuing restrictions is the club’s American League, which Denby said will likely not run in the foreseeable future.
“Last year we were optimistic even into January, February,” she said.
“Now, we know that they would like to but it’s a lot to come across for one night of curling for someone who is not essential. We’re optimistic for the new year.”
Denby said they’re looking at some way of differentiating visitors from members so that regular curlers might not have to show their vaccination status every time they come to the building.
Denby said that like in years past, all those interested in curling or learning to curl are welcome to join. The club has a running list for spares so those without a team can potentially join up with one, and while Denby said she hopes they might be able to offer an adult learn to curl session this year, that will be dependent or restrictions and volunteer numbers.
“Right now there’s a shortage of staffing, but I think there’s also a shortage of volunteers,” she said.
“To offer an adult learn to curl takes another volunteer, who may already be coaching kids curling. We might try, we’ll see what we can do.”
Denby stressed that the season could not run without the support of community partners, sponsors and volunteers, all of whom the club is very thankful for.
Curling at the Fort Frances Curling Club starts the week of Thanksgiving.