Laurier’s Curling Program Showcases Depth
The Wilfrid Laurier University curling program is well-received by the curling community, and well-known as having a competitive program across the country.
The Wilfrid Laurier University curling program is well-received by the curling community, and well-known as having a competitive program across the country. It also is one of the deepest programs at the university varsity level, largely due to the amount of support and funding that the university gives its programs.
“The support that Laurier gives its curling is really unparalleled and as a result we’ve been able to build what we certainly think is a strong and powerful program,” said program head coach Gary Crossley.
This funding has allowed Crossley to put together not just the varsity team, but also a junior varsity team as well as a freshman team, meant to develop athletes and allow them to work on their skills as spots open up on the varsity team for women’s curling.
“Those teams provide an opportunity to develop athletes, so that athletes who graduate out of the varsity program will be strong, capable athletes who are familiar with our program and comfortable already with university life because they’ve been here for a year or two, and they’re ready to move into the varsity program without any bumps in the road,” he explained.
This also allows Crossley more flexibility in case a player on the varsity team gets injured, allowing players who are not on the varsity team to jump up and take their place. Last year during the men’s Ontario University Athletics final, third-year skip Aaron Squires could not play due to illness, so alternate John Gable came in to play lead and third-year Richard Krell took over skip duties.
Their amount of depth certainly started to show during competition play as the season kicked off.
During the Trent Invitational on Nov. 22, the varsity men’s team captured the gold medal at the event, going undefeated with a perfect 6-0 record. On the women’s side, the junior varsity team and the freshman team were sent to compete, in which they captured the silver medal and bronze medal respectively.
Laurier is also hosting the Canadian Interuniversity Sport championships in March, an event that will bring even more recognition and support to the program.
Second-year Chelsea Brandwood, who played fifth on the varsity team for women’s curling last year, attended the CIS championships held in Regina. Coming in to this year as lead on the varsity team, Brandwood said she believes her experience at the CIS championships will help her coming into this year.
“With being fifth last year and going to these things, it definitely helps. I know what to expect, I know what’s going on,” Brandwood said.
As for the two other teams who may not get the opportunity to compete at the varsity level, Crossley is looking for alternate competitions for the squads to hone their skills at the provincial level. The primary reason for having the junior varsity and freshman program is to develop these athletes to make the transition onto the varsity squad seamless.
“We are looking for some alternative competition for them through the Ontario Curling Association. There’s a variety of competition there that lead to provincial championships and in some cases national championships, so we are looking for competitive opportunities for those other teams in that realm,” he said.
Both varsity curling teams will be competing in the Brock Invitational held in St. Catharine’s in mid-January.