It may sound natural to hear university students dismiss curling as “not their thing.” They might say that it moves too slowly for them or that it lacks the flair of a certain other popular Canadian ice sport. Perhaps they know it as the game their grandparents play on the weekend and don’t consider it a sport for people their age.
Trystyn Berg, president of the UVic Curling Club, is out to suggest the opposite: that in almost every way, the sport offers the perfect pastime for the university student.
First, he says, its mental and strategic aspects, as well as its reputation as a thinking person’s game, complement the student lifestyle, which already requires endless amounts of planning and critical thinking.
“[Curling] is a sport where you’re always thinking. It allows its participants to get the strategies and develop short- and long-term planning skills that are useful to any student,” says Berg, president since 2009.
“The club is about getting students off campus and into a social environment where they are required to focus on a challenging game instead of schoolwork,” says Berg.
While curling may not come across as a physical sport on TV, Berg says the game also serves as a perfect activity for getting rid of high levels of stress students know all too well.
“When you’re piled up under assignments and studying, nothing feels better than throwing a couple of hard-hitters,” he says. “Curling is more physically demanding than it looks, and after all that sweeping and throwing and sliding, you feel a lot less stressed out by the end of a game.”
Students seeking a new hobby and possibly new friends will be pleased with the UVic Curling Club’s unique social dynamic. As a mostly recreational club that meets one night a week, it accommodates players of all levels, and those who come alone with no experience are introduced to the sport through a free group lesson. After players are grouped in teams of four, the club carries out its season in a round-robin format while continuing to welcome new players with free lessons. This gives students looking to meet people the perfect opportunity to do so, according to Berg.
The club divides its experienced players evenly among teams, so newcomers have the opportunity to learn the sport from skilled curlers — as well as win games.
“We try and balance the skill level between teams by giving each team an experienced player,” Berg says. “This way everyone has a mentor that can help them. The club is meant for all levels of experience, and we want to help everyone learn as much as they want.”
For experienced curlers, the club puts together teams to compete in friendlies against local clubs, like the Victoria Curling Club, and in inter-university matches. Next season, Berg hopes to recruit enough talent to have a team compete in the Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) Canada West Playdowns, the winners of which compete at the Canadian Championship Events.
The club’s season ends on March 3 and will restart next September.
For fast-thinking, overstressed students seeking a new hobby or new friends, curling may offer the recreational fulfillment they can’t find anywhere else. “Just come try it,” Berg urges. “You can’t judge this sport until you’ve tried it.”
Students interested in joining the UVic Curling Club can email Berg at firstname.lastname@example.org.