Some of Canada's top professional curlers were in town late last week to provide valuable insight to local curlers wanting to step up their game.
Mary-Anne Arsenault, Grant Odishaw, Darren Moulding, and Cochrane's Morgan Muise led the clinics of the Academy of Curling.
Arsenault, a five-time Canadian champion with 15 Scotties appearances and two-time world champion, says they delved into all aspects of the sport.
"We go back to basics with the delivery and sweeping; all the technical stuff," explains Arsenault, "So, we're basically trying to break any bad habits, give them little tweaks on how to improve and make them better curlers."
As well as being a high-calibre curler, Morgan Muise is a booking/programs supervisor for the SLS Centre and pays particular attention to the success of its modern curling centre.
"It's incredible to bring these top instructors here to help our local curlers get some perspective on what it takes to maybe up their game to the next level," says Muise. "They're sharing their wealth of knowledge on everything and the club curlers are just soaking it up. I'm really excited to see what they do with it in their league games."
Muise has won several provincial championships and skipped her women's team to the national 2018 Travellers Canadian Curling Club Championship.
She has also shared the ice with Arsenault as recently as last year's Scotties and knew her from her hometown of Halifax, NS.
Arsenault curled with the Colleen Jones Rink out of the Mayflower Curling Club in Halifax, Morgan's hometown.
Morgan says Mary-Anne was her favourite member of the team.
"She just seemed to have this cool calm on the ice and she was kind of the one that was called upon when the games got tough. Her opinion really mattered, and they called on her a lot."
Morgan was thrilled to have the opportunity to spare for Mary-Anne's team at the Scotties.
"I got to play in one game and it was like a bucket list item for me to be able to play a game at the Scotties with Mary-Anne. It was really cool. I got to sweep her, and draw the button for hammer in the pregame practice. I was the inside sweeper and just got to put my head down and sweep as hard as I could and cover the button. It's something I'll remember forever."
Mary-Anne enjoyed the opportunity to not only run the clinic but catch up with Morgan.
"She's a good friend from home, and that's kind of how we got started here. She played with me back in Nova Scotia, so when she moved out here, I visited her a number of times, and when we arranged this Academy of Curling clinic here, it was certainly a perfect fit."
She's impressed with the Cochrane Curling Centre.
"So many curling clubs are aged and the plants are old and you never know what's going to fall apart next. It's just really nice to have everything sort of new and state-of-the-art."
She says not many Canadian communities are this fortunate to have modern facilities to attract new curlers. The Cochrane curling season has blossomed since the new centre was created. There are currently 15 weekly leagues, a variety of learn-to-curl programs, and a unique six-pack curling league was introduced that had to be increased in size.
"It seems like curling is really getting bigger, especially in the States, whereas in Canada, the numbers are decreasing. So it's really nice to see a full membership here."
That said, she believes there's been a greater focus on the sport, thanks to Canada's major sports networks.
"You know, there are lots of addicts out there who love to watch the game and have never thrown a stone in their lives. Anytime anything's on, they'll be watching, and that's because of the great coverage from TSN and Sportsnet."
There are many highlights in the career of the Curling Canada Hall of Famer but the one that stands out is her first Scotties championship in 1999.
"We continued to win five nationals and two world championships and, well, it's just been quite a ride. I played all the different positions and now I'm coaching. My deaf team is going to be here tonight practicing, and we're going to the Deaflympics Olympics in Turkey."
Grant Odisaw is a Canadian mixed champion, has had 18 national appearances, and is a Brier runner-up.
Darren Moulding curls out of the Saville and Lacome Curling Club and among his many accomplishments is seven appearances at the Brier and one at the world championship.
In response to Canada's Online News Act and Meta (Facebook and Instagram) removing access to local news from their platforms, CochraneNow encourages you to get your news directly from your trusted source by bookmarking this page and downloading the CochraneNow app.