Still, the opportunity to catch up with northern Ontario talent who have since moved on, more or less, is always a welcome one. Former local curlers Kate Arkilander and Jenny Gates were both in attendance, albeit for notably different reasons.
Just recently married, Arkilander was in town on behalf of The Dominion, accepting an award in recognition of the support the company has provided to the curling community.
It should come as little surprise that the passion for curling begins at the very top of the corporate ladder for the group whose involvement has been highlighted by the introduction of The Dominion Club Curling Championship.
“My dad had originally met George Cooke (president and CEO of The Dominion) in this very curling club, at an elementary bonspiel with George's son, Arthur,” Arkilander said shortly after the break of the AGM held at the Sudbury Curling Club earlier this summer.
“They immediately bonded.”
Before long, Kate was completing an internship with the company, now returning to her hometown on behalf of her full-time employer.
“For The Dominion, it's very important that we support grass-roots curling, so that the average club curler can think about going to a national championship once again,” Arkilander said.
“Just for the curlers to be able to put on their provincials jackets, looking at their reaction was priceless,” she added.
A graduate of the youth curling ranks in Sudbury, Arkilander is thrilled to be able to give back to a sport that has provided her with so many memorable moments.
“I've coached bantams for a number of years, spent several years running a Little Rocks program down south and three years now as a volunteer chair for The Dominion Club Curling Championships,” Arkilander said.
While Gates is doing some summer work in town, that is about to change. Last January, the Lockerby Composite graduate was part of the Wilfrid Laurier University women's curling team that not only represented Canada at the FISU (International University Sports Federation) Games in Japan, but also claimed gold at the very same event.
Roughly a month later, the same team was right back at it, defeating the Brock Badgers in the CIS finals for a second straight year and earning the right to attempt a FISU repeat when the Games are staged in December of 2013 in Trentino, Italy.
Gates acknowledged the route proved tougher the second time around.
“I felt that this year, we struggled a lot more,” she said. “There was definitely a lot of pressure on us. We tried not to let it affect us, but we didn't play as well as we had last year.”
The 2013 FISU Winter Games were originally scheduled for January in Slovenia, but were forced to move when financial support within the City of Maribor and the country unexpectedly dried up.
The shift of the Games to Italy has forced a delay of almost a full year and a very lengthy lead-up for Gates and her teammates, who will head to Edmonton in the fall to commence more than 12 months of pre-event training.
“We will be working part time when we're there, but we do have a pretty vigorous schedule, playing on the World Curling Tour,” Gates said. “We're doing about seven events before Christmas, to get as much competition as we can.”
While the FISU delay is not ideal, the fact that three members of the Wilfrid Laurier rink are now graduated has made it easier to accommodate the new date and revamped team schedule.
In fact, it is only Gates who will need to take a year away from her studies, looking to return to school following the completion of the Games in order to finish off the two semesters she expects to have left.
At the age of 22 and with this opportunity at hand, a final year of university studies will just have to wait for Gates.