For the first time since 1957, there will be no rocks thrown at the Napanee and District Curling Club this winter.
The club’s executive made the decision to cancel the upcoming season due to COVID-19.
“It was going to be very, very difficult to keep social distancing in place,” said NDCC’s Sandy Eastlake.
Making a decision on curling in the middle of summer might seem early, but time was already running short as they began making preparations for the first draw.
“Normally by now I’m busy getting the applications out to all the members and the ad would be going in the Beaver,” said Eastlake. “It’s early, but it’s not early. We’ve been getting query by our members already, ‘What do you think you’re going to do? What is happening?’ We’ve been working all summer on it in holding off and hoping different stages would open up and things would change.”
The club has been following the updates by CurlOn, the sport’s governing body at the provincial level. Based on the protocols that would have needed to be in place, they conducted a survey among its 200-plus members, with 150 people responding.
“Curling would not have looked like curling if we have had of tried to open,” said Eastlake. “You could only have one sweeper, the skips couldn’t sweep in the house, everything’s based on social distancing.”
Off the ice it would have looked very different as well.
“In our lounge we would have had our members having to volunteer five times more than we do on any given year,” said Eastlake. “We would have had to have volunteers at the door possibly taking temperatures, taking everybody’s name and doing questionnaires and our members, some of them just wouldn’t be comfortable doing that.”
The club had to be very conscious of how much money goes into opening for the season as well. If a large portion of the membership opted not to return for this season, those added costs would fall on the members who did return.
“Financially if we did open, it cost a lot of money to install the ice and get everything going,” added Eastlake. “If three weeks down the road this second wave hit or even one member got sick, like at that nail salon (in Kingston, which saw a major COVID-19 outbreak in June), we would be closed.”
Updates will be posted on the club’s website, NDCC.ca as more information is made available.
Eastlake says making the decision now ensures the club will be financially viable to re-open next season. While reassuring for members, that doesn’t make it any easier as the crisp weather of September fills the air.
“Now all of us curlers are wondering what the heck we’re going to do with ourselves for the winter,” said Eastlake.