This year’s Wilf Smith Memorial Curling League is being hailed as another success.
The league, which is named for Wilfred Smith, a teacher and long-time member of the Quesnel community who championed the integration of Special Olympics athletes with other curlers in the region, who passed away in 2017, runs from October to December, then holds its annual bonspiel after the holidays in January.
The league draws members from across the Quesnel curling community, who team up with 14 Special Olympics athletes to form 10 teams. This year’s league and bonspiel were as popular as ever, says league co-organizer Alison Duddy.
“We had 10 teams in the bonspiel this past Friday, made up of all sorts from the curling community,” she said. “We never have a problem getting it filled up, and it’s just a fantastic event and we all have a lot of fun.”
Teams play three two-end games then take part in a skills competition and end the event with a potluck dinner. While the competition on the ice heats up during the bonspiel, the focus of the event is all about bringing people together and having fun.
“The thing that I really enjoy about this bonspiel is that during the games, at the end of the second end, all the rocks are left in play and we draw a card out of a deck of cards and certain cards get you certain things — for example, you can get bonus points, so if you pull a three and your team hogged a rock in that end, you get two bonus points, or if you have any rocks touching the line, you get bonus points and things like that,” said Duddy. “It makes it so that anybody can win. You don’t necessarily have to curl great. You can get bonus points and do well in the skills competition, and that’s actually what happened this year for the winning team. So any team that enters, no matter their abilities, can win the bonspiel, and that’s what I like about it.”
The league and bonspiel are made possible by sponsorships from businesses in Quesnel. The group has found a unique way to raise funds — rather than just asking for donations for the league, they ask for gift cards from local business, which they will in turn match with a gift card purchase for the same amount.
“It’s really hard fundraising, going out there with your hand out saying ‘give to us,’ versus when you can get something out of it as well,” said Duddy. “We’ve had a very good response from local businesses for our strategy, and we’ve had quite a few that have just donated and said ‘you don’t have to give us anything.’”
The league would like to thank all of this year’s sponsors: Mr. Mikes, Dairy Queen, Booster Juice, Granville’s, Home Hardware, Safeway, K-max, Big Country Printers, Save-On-Foods, Craig’s Table, Bliss, Carer’s Jewellers, Reason to Run, Rocky Peak Adventure Gear and the West Quesnel Business Association.