CurlManitoba had a successful year in 2021-22, the first year of return to near-normal conditions after the pandemic, according to all reports presented Saturday, September 17 at the provincial curling association’s Annual General Meeting.
As he concluded his report to the annual meeting, outgoing President Ray Baker (Dauphin) said it was important to recognize and thank the many organizers, volunteers, club managers and curlers whose passion and unending commitment to the sport through the difficult times never ceased to inspire him. “You are truly what curling is all about,” he said.
He also credited the CurlManitoba staff team, under the guidance of the governance-oriented Board of Directors, for their success “in facing many very complicated and uncertain circumstances” and “for working exhaustively to find the best solutions.”
In his final report, President Baker, who is a candidate in next week’s Curling Canada Board of Governors election, acknowledged the organization’s pride in the accomplishments of Manitoba’s competitive teams. However he stressed that “the heart and soul of curling is at the club level.”
“That’s why our strategic plan placed increased emphasis on helping build curling club capacity and improved communication with our nearly 100 member clubs,” he reported. “We believe positive progress has been made in these areas.”
Executive Director Craig Baker (not related) advised the meeting that in 2021-22 Manitoba’s curling clubs had seen a net decrease of nearly 20% in numbers since the beginning of the pandemic, underlining the importance of the association’s club development initiatives, However, even in the decrease, he was able to report a positive in that sport associations across Canada, including curling, have reported overall declines in the 30% range – a testament to the strength of Manitoba’s curling clubs.
He also reported that the 16 out of 19 of the association’s championship events had gone ahead successfully with the help of host committees in nine different host clubs.
He noted that re-scheduling and plans revision became a standard throughout much of the season as CurlManitoba and the host committees dealt with the ebb and flow of covid concerns throughout the season.
Most dramatically affected were the Viterra championship which went from being a planned Selkirk Arena event to being hosted with a very limited audience in the Selkirk Curling Club, the Mixed Doubles which was cancelled, and the Curling Club Championships, which were postponed until later this fall.
Executive Director Baker also outlined the substantial renewal of youth development programs and CurlManitoba’s Junior High Performance Program. In particular, he noted the CurlManitoba support for the Winnipeg Newcomers Sport Academy which will expand to two locations in 2022-23 to introduce new Canadians to our sport. His report also noted the establishment of the Bob Picken Legacy Junior Inter-Club League in Winnipeg, discussions of potential merger with the junior Inter-Club League in the southern Interlake and potential establishment of a western Manitoba Junior Inter-Club League this winter.
Junior High Performance programs will continue in the season ahead in Winnipeg, Brandon, and Dauphin under the guidance of CurlManitoba’s new High Performance Director Jill Officer.
The annual meeting also saw the continued evolution of the CurlManitoba Governance model with the approval of a series of bylaw changes which included reducing the size of the Board of Directors from 12 to eight elected Directors with a continuing opportunity to appoint two Directors to fill specific needs on the Board. A Director`s maximum term on the Board was also extended from two three-year terms to three three-year terms if it is the mutual wish of the Director and Board.
Grant Brown (Burntwood) and Ian Fordyce (Fort Garry) were re-elected to the Board of Directors. Continuing members of the Board include Keith Johnston (Fort Rouge), Lynn Fallis-Kurz (East St. Paul), Jason Kreiser (Brandon), Brad Zander (Fort Rouge),Ken Stevens (St. Vital), George Hacking (Selkirk),Travis Bale (East St. Paul). Keith Johnston will serve as President in 2022-23 in the first year of a two-year term with Lynn Fallis-Kurz serving as Vice-President.
FOUR HONOURARY LIFE MEMBERSHIPS PRESENTED
The CurlManitoba AGM concluded with the presentation of Honourary Life Memberships to four Manitoba curling volunteers for their service to the sport.
Joyce Wyrchowny, who was unable to attend the AGM, was recognized for a lifetime of volunteerism and leadership in the Stonewall Curling Club. Her resume includes establishment and coaching, with others, of the Stonewall Junior league, establishment and coaching of a Special Olympics team, and establishment of a Stick Curling league – all in pursuit of her belief that everyone should have the opportunity to curl. She held many Stonewall CC Executive positions and also served for many years as a District playdowns Chair.
Lance Wadelius was honoured by CurlManitoba for his long career as an official at Provincial, National, and World events in Manitoba. His roles in about 30 events over nearly 25 years have ranged from game observer and statistician to Supervising Official and Chief Umpire assignments. He has also filled many executive and committee roles including being a Past-President of Beausejour Curling Club and co-chair of the 2016 Manitoba Scotties Championship hosted by Beausejour. He has also coached many teams including, most notably, the Kyle Peters 2008 Manitoba Junior Men’s Champions and the 2012 Manitoba Junior Women’s Shannon Birchard team who won the Canadian Silver medal.
Gail Cabana-Coldwell was honoured by CurlManitoba as a dedicated coach/instructor who has helped train a large number of curlers from the beginner to more advanced levels. In addition to spreading the word about curling as a course conductor, she has written extensively about curling, including nearly a decade as junior curling columnist for the former national Sweep! Magazine. As a host committee volunteer in her home Deer Lodge Curling Club, among other duties she handled media relations for Senior, Junior and Mixed Championships in the club. She also took various levels of responsibility as a committee volunteer for Winnipeg’s Briers, Worlds and Canadian Curling Trials since 1998.
Ray Baker received the fourth Honourary Life Membership awarded on September 17. The traditional honour presented to a CurlManitoba Past-President, was well earned over his seven years of membership on the Board of Directors, including the past two seasons as President where he is credited with providing great leadership through the challenges of “the covid years”. The award also recognizes his long service to his home Dauphin Curling Club through many years of executive and volunteer service including a high profile role as co-chair of one of the most successful of the Manitoba/World Curling Tour cash bonspiels.