I consider myself a sports guy. I wouldnít say a prime athlete, because that requires more training and likely a higher level of skill than I have at my chosen sports. I rarely go four or five days with doing something sports related and Easter weekend I attempted something I have never done before.
I received a text message from my friend Ryan in Rosetown 10 days before the infamous Rosebowl Curling Bonspiel.
Ryan had suggested I enter a team in previous bonspiels and I continually explained I was retired and havenít curled since Grade 9. I wasnít sure I wanted to curl anymore. It was Easter and my birthday on that weekend and I was thinking I would be recovering from a weekend trip to Vegas one week earlier.
His team had a guy back out and they needed me to come play. Ryan explained in the previous two years his team curled in the Rosebowl they didnít win a game. He all but guaranteed me we would be out by Sunday and I could make it home for Easter supper with my family, if I came to play.
I have been at the last two Rosebowls at some point or another, but that was simply for the social part of the event. I donít think I witnessed anyone throw a rock in the two years I was there. After I checked with Ryanís wife, Amber, to see if I would be allowed to stay at their house for the weekend, it was confirmed. The retirement was over. I was in. Call me the Brett Farve of curling.
The first big problem of the weekend was I didnít have any curling equipment and wasnít quite sure what all I needed.
I found an old pair of runners, took the Swiffer sweeper out of the closest and my hockey referee pants and hoped I could find more supplies on the way.
I went through Wilkie on my way to Rosetown and stopped to see if I could possibly get some more supplies. I grabbed my brotherís old curling shoes and broom, a glove each from my dadís and momís curling bags and of course I needed a stop watch. I was tempted to swing by my grandpaís house and get his stick, which you can use to curl without getting in the hack. The stick connects to the rock and after walking out to the hog line you can release your shot. Some have said I have the knees of an old man. Maybe that wouldíve been the way to go. I had to put A535 rub on my knees to lube them up before each game and every time another curler would sniff it out, expecting it to be used by one of the more senior curlers. Nope thatís just this 25-year-old with awful knees wearing braces for a curling game.
Along with the splendid smell, I also was able to find a stopwatch. Playing lead I attempted to use the stopwatch like the big time curlers do. I tried to get the hog line -to- hog line time. I had no problem starting the timer, but I rarely remembered to stop it until the shot was finished and I was walking back to the other end. We had a lot of shots in the 24 to 38 second range on the weekend. Having an actual time wouldnít have helped our game anyways, but if nothing else, our team looked like we knew what we were doing.
My teammates Craig and Kent, who hadnít curled since the Rosebowl the year before, along with Ryan are all multisport guys as well. They play baseball in Rosetown and in recent years their team has developed a friendly rivalry with mine in Wilkie. They took great pleasure in dressing me up with a Rosetown Angels hat and jacket to fit in with their team.
Once we finally did hit the ice Friday, we played three games. I was told they had never won a game, so I didnít have high expectations for game one. That was perfect, because those minimal expectations were fulfilled in our first match. We scored in the first end, but then held the hammer the rest of the way. That isnít as good as you would think, because it means we hadnít scored a point all game. We lasted four ends and quickly found ourselves in the lounge experimenting with a drink called Icemakerís Punch.
Later Friday, we were up against another young and inexperienced team from Rosetown. For some reason we placed a bet on the game for $100. I guess money talks. We won our first game of the weekend and my three teammates improved to 1-9 all time at the Rosebowl, while I was at .500 and also earned more tokens for Icemakerís Punch later on.
Ironically we looked at the draw before we started Friday and Kent explained if we ended up in the F division we might be up against teams of our calibre. He suggested we could win a weekend golf trip. Talk about getting well ahead of ourselves. We were on our way to the F division and needed to lose our next game to make it official.
After spending about four hours Friday having a team hot tub party Ė basically our legs, bodies and minds come out as jelly Ė falling to the F division was extremely easy. By no means am I saying we tried to lose, but it would have been impossible for a team that had curled more than once in their life to lose to us in the evening draw.
It was so bad I had a shot that was more like a shuffleboard shot than a curling shot. I slid out of the hack and didnít put a turn on my rock. The rock decided to pick its own turn and bounced off the side board about halfway down the ice well before the hog line Ė thatís another round I need to buy.
That was another quick loss for our team and we were in the F event with a 1-2 record.
After a night out at the first of two dances on the weekend, we were back on the ice Saturday and played just once. At this time we were in the playoff bracket and a win would move us into the prizes while a loss knocked us out.
Since the stakes were higher Saturday, I chose to wear a Wilkie Brewers jacket instead of a Rosetown Angels one and it paid off in full. I felt more comfortable in green. It was easily the best game I and our team played. We pulled out another win.
This curling thing isnít that bad Ė I mean, I stumble out of the hack ever second shot, I hadnít actually hit the broom all weekend, but my weight was on and I actually took some pride in the sweeping.
We had the rest of Saturday off and I had to notify my family Easter might be delayed because we miraculously made it to semifinals.
Waking up at 8:35 a.m. after limited hours of sleep the night before to take part in an Easter egg hunt made for a bit of a long day Sunday. I was a little slow moving as was the rest of our team.
Once we did get to the rink and started the game, we again scored first, as plan B worked out beautifully for our skip on his final rock with a raise for a single point. That was the extent of our highlights, as we shook hands after four ends and had our Rosebowl weekend come to an end.
Our third loss came against a team I understand played in all 21 Rosebowls so that was interesting. Our second loss came at the hands of a team that beat half of the Carl deConink Smith team, which curls in the Tankard and is one of the provinceís best competitive teams, so that was alright too, I suppose.
After coming out of retirement I ended up with a wireless mouse, a universal charger and sore thighs, chest, shoulders and triceps. When I curled in Grade 8 and 9, I skipped and never realized how much work sweeping is. It is also trickier than you think. We burnt a rock or two on the weekend as well when we were sweeping. Whoops.
Since the newly formed Rosetown Angels curling team earned their first two wins, apparently the other guy who had to back out was told he was cut for next year. Maybe I should practise once before I go back to the nearly 80-team tournament.