Members of the St. Marys Curling Club Board of Directors pose with Canadian Olympic Gold Medalist Kaitlyn Lawes at the Curling Club’s 150th Anniversary Gala on Saturday. From L-R: Club Manager Amie Shackleton, League Convenor Adam Hudson, Treasurer George Miller, Secretary Catherine Wallis, Sponsorship Coordinator John Hopkins, Keynote Speaker Kaitlyn Lawes, Vice President Jason Clarke, Membership Coordinator Norma Poel, President Ken Levy, and OCA Representative Linda McFadyen.
By Stewart Grant
The evening went so perfectly, it was as if they’d be planning it for 150 years. This past Saturday night, January 30th, the St. Marys Curling Club celebrated the 150th Anniversary of its 1866 founding with a Gala Dinner that will long be remembered by those in attendance. Appropriately, the Gala event was held at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club, which was the home of Curling in St. Marys from 1964 to 1997. The beautiful St. Marys Golf Club Banquet Hall sits literally in the same space where over 30 years of St. Marys Curling history was played.
Larry DeNeve and Glenn Goldstraw in deep discussion at the St. Marys Curling Club Gala. DeNeve along with Brian Douglas and Ron Hunter were recognized at the Gala for their significant contributions to the club over the years.
The approximately 130 people in attendance were treated to an evening full of entertaining stories, delicious food, and great music. Head chef (and avid curler) Jason Skipper and his team at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club put on an incredible meal, and traditional Celtic folk group “The Sheridan Band” was the perfect musical choice for the night.
Master of Ceremonies Jason Clarke (Vice President of the Curling Club) led off an impressive collection of speakers during the formal part of the occasion. St. Marys Mayor Al Strathdee then congratulated the Curling Club and spoke of the importance of the relationship between the Town and the Club. Next, Club Board Member Norma Poel recounted some of the highlights of the Club’s 150-year history.
Ontario Curling Association Executive Director Stephen Chenier then presented the Club with a commemorative plaque recognizing the Club’s milestone achievement, and reflected humorously on the Club’s initial OCA dues of $4 dollars (total) for the Club’s initial 23 members.
St. Marys Curling Club President Ken Levy took the opportunity of a large captive audience to provide a “State of the Union” of the current Club. It was encouraging for all in attendance to hear that club membership has grown 30% over the past three years and that the club is financially strong with zero debt on the books. Not only has the club reinvested in upgraded equipment within the past couple years, but the club is also researching investment into brand new curling stones to replace the current stones which are roughly 50 years of age and no longer have the liveliness that they once did.
St. Marys Curling Club member Graham Rae poses with Canadian Olympic Goal Medalist Kaitlyn Lawes. Approximately 130 people attended the Curling Club 150th Anniversary Gala on Saturday night at the St. Marys Golf & Country Club.
The primary sponsor of the evening’s festivities was Meridian Credit Union, and St. Marys Branch Manager Dave Brown was on-hand to introduce keynote speaker Kaitlyn Lawes.
Just 27 years old but many years wiser, Kaitlyn Lawes shared with the audience many interesting stories from her 23 years in curling (her dad introduced her to the game young; her first throw from the hack was a belly-flop at a family curling bonspiel when she was just 4 years old).
From heart-breaking losses at the Manitoba Provincials to reaching the pinnacle of the sport at the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Kaitlyn took us through her fascinating journey and shared many of the lessons learned along the way. Many of the greatest life lessons came from the losses; concepts such as “don’t sweat the small stuff” and that competing is often best when you just let yourself “enjoy the moment” and have some fun.
For Kaitlyn and her team, there were many highs and lows on the way to Olympic Gold, culminating in the amazing feeling that Kaitlyn described in which “O Canada” was played, and the Canadian flag was raised, on account of “something that WE did.”
Kaitlyn effectively tied the experience back to a concept that everyone in the audience could take home, that “in life, typically the only one keeping your scorecard is you”, and that “the prize is in the process and in the journey”.