The 11th edition of the Super Seniors Square Bonspiel has broken its record for most teams in a Cochrane bonspiel.
Starting today, a total of 49 teams will be taking to the ice in the mainly daytime bonspiel, which continues until Saturday. There are 42 regular four-person teams and seven two-person sturling teams.
Chair and drawmaster Doug Campbell breaks down the name of this unique event.
“Super Seniors” means all players over 50 are encouraged to play, 50 being the definition of a senior curler.
“Squares” means five teams are grouped into a round-robin. Each plays four games against opponents of equal age and calibre.
And spiel, well that's short for bonspiel.
Campbell is the area director for the Big Country (Zone 2) of the Alberta 55 Plus nonprofit sports society. While this isn't one of their events, it's very much rooted in the same idealogy and uses the same age groupings. It emphasizes socializing and staying active.
"We try to match peers. There's absolutely nothing to be gained by putting a highly-competitive young team against a highly social older team. I mean, that's not sport. We work very hard to make sure the five-team squares are fairly well balanced."
The age brackets start with 55 to 60 competitive and social, all the way up to 75-85 social. Four of the participating curlers are over 85.
Times have been tough, and sponsorships have been more difficult to obtain. Campbell salutes Two Pharmacys for stepping forward as the platinum sponsor. He also appreciates the many gift baskets donated by local businesses for the silent auctions.
The super squares bonspiel was first held in 2010 after senior bonspiels here were canceled two consecutive years due to lack of interest. Campbell wasn't about to let it die and took the chair. He retooled it, and it has been the largest bonspiel at the new Cochrane Curling Centre every year since it opened in 2017.
Campbell attributes the success of this and other Cochrane bonspiels to an emphasis on recruitment and promotion.
In the past, this bonspiel was held during Grey Cup week and hasn't been held for the last two years due to the pandemic. Moving it to March provided even more time for recruitment.
"This time, I sent a blast out in October, so we've been recruiting October, November. December, January, and into February."
At one point, registration hit 55 teams.
To remain COVID-compliant, they have broken their popular Friday night banquet into two sittings.
The final draw is Saturday at 3:45 p.m.