The reason Wendy Smith sits in the viewing area at the Vernon Curling Club every Wednesday afternoon, prior to 1 p.m., she jokes, is “the other teams are so desperate for players.”
Not true. Not true at all about the soon-to-be 96-year-old former hospital dietitian who skips a team in the club’s Senior Ladies League.
Smith, who turns 96 in April, came to Vernon and joined the club with her husband, Ken, in 1984. She began curling with Ken in her 50s.
“We moved here from Calgary and we had been curling for five years there after our neighbour invited us to try the sport,” said Smith, born in Burnaby in 1926. “It was something to do in the winter.”
Smith gave up throwing from the hack a few years ago, and now uses the popular stick curling broom to continue playing. She didn’t want to wear a slider on her shoe anymore, and she skips because she doesn’t like sweeping.
She loves the camaraderie of the game.
“Curling keeps me moving,” said Smith. “And I still win the odd game.”
It’s a similar story for Shirley White, a mere 85-years-young, who began curling in high school in Moose Jaw more than 65 years ago.
Like Smith, she skips a team Wednesday afternoons. Her dad and grandfather were curlers.
“I like the exercise, I like the company and in my competitive days, I liked going to different places for bonspiels,” said White, who was a physical education instructor for elementary and high schools in her professional life.
She has curled in such glorious places as Cold Lake, Alta., Ontario, Prince Edward Island, the Yukon and Lahr and Baden-Baden, both in Germany, as she travelled the globe with her husband.
The Whites arrived in Vernon and joined the curling club in 1979. In 2014, White underwent a serious cancer operation, which forced her to stop throwing rocks out of the hack and take up the stick curling broom.
“It allows me to keep playing the game I love,” smiled White.
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