The accolades for the new Phillips Curling Centre just keep coming and helping spread the word of the quality ice was the Super Seniors Squares Bonspiel, Nov. 22 to 25.
Forty-four teams, totalling 164 curlers, took to the ice for the first bonspiel hosted at the centre and it was a success on all counts, says chair Doug Campbell.
"Everybody loved it. We got many bouquets which is really nice, but it also shows those that planned the facility weren't wrong, that you can build a really good facility and people will come and fully utilize it, and that's what they did."
Besides attracting 11 teams from Calgary, there were curlers from Gleichen, Airdrie, Black Diamond, Springbank, Bragg Creek and, of course, Cochrane and area. Nine divisions, or "squares" were created to accommodate different age and peer groups. Added this year was a greenhorn division that coupled newer curlers with veteran skips. Sturling, or stick curling, was included for the first time and helped to make it an all-inclusive event.
The bonspiel had to be expanded by one-day and two divisions added. In addition, each evening featured a unique social event in the new curling lounge, with Friday's night costume mixer and Saturday's banquet being the largest.
Besides the numerous benefits of the new curling centre, Campbell also found the new home better suited for support crews.
"The SLS Family Sports Centre is an ideal location where “chauffeurs”, whether spouses, grandparents or grandchildren, may enjoy the swimming, gymnastics, hockey, pickleball, or seniors centre while awaiting the curling games to finish."
The Phillips Centre has proven to be a catalyst for curling, says Campbell, despite the naysayers who didn't believe in the project.
"Into Month #3 of Year One at our new facility, we have 21 new teams competing in regular league play. And we have enough ice capacity to conduct larger bonspiels than ever before."
Super Squares divisional rink winners were:
Social (51-67): Alicia Brooks, Cochrane
Social (68-70): John Dyck, Cochrane
Social (71-75): Al Neumeier, Cochrane
Social (76-91): S. McGrath-M. Young, Cochrane
Competitive (51-64): Blaine Zubot, Cochrane
Competitive (65-68): Heather Paul-Scott, Inglewood
Competitive (69-84): Will Sanders, Inglewood
Sturling (over 50): Leona & Elmer Kowalick, Airdrie
The bonspiel was open to those over 50 and the oldest participant was 91-year-old Gordon McNaughton.
Growing the bonspiel to 44 teams from 30 was a huge step and there is the outside possibility they could grow it more if they are able to borrow a little ice time from the regular league.
"That's well into the future, though, and we're really just happy to jump from 30 to 44 in one year."
Next up at the Phillips Centre is the annual Bantams/Juvenile Spiel, Dec. 1 to 3.
Cochrane youth curling chair Larry Cinnamon is anxious to see the reaction to the new ice by the 18 teams participating.
"Ice quality means a lot and the ice at the facility is fabulous," says Cinnamon. "I can’t wait to see what the juniors think of our new six sheets of ice."