The Collingwood Special Olympics Curling team is warming up before heading north at the end of the month to compete at the provincials.
The team will be heading to Sault Ste. Marie for the Ontario Winter Games from Jan. 31 until Feb. 3.
“Unfortunately we don’t have a long time to do a lot of preparation because the ice is only in for six months,” says Carol Benson, head coach. “Every Wednesday we’re (at the Collingwood Curling Club). We do warm ups, drills, and a small game.”
David Vanderwedden, Sam Griffiths, Robert Vanderwedden and Erin McNalty comprise the team headed up north later this month.
“Some of them are doing four sports,” says Bill Koch, assistant coach.
McNalty falls into that category, participating in skiing, basketball and swimming in addition to curling.
“The stipulation though is they can only compete in one sport (at the provincial level),” says Koch.
Koch joined up with the local club three years ago after trying out curling while living in Brockville.
“For me, I enjoy curling. It was a sport I always wanted to try. I was living in Brockville at the time of the 2010 Vancouver Olympics and... there isn’t anything to do in Brockville in the winter,” he laughs. “I decided I wanted to try it. I went to a bonspiel and really enjoyed it.”
“We’ve all worked together well for the last three years,” says Koch. “It’s a learning process.”
David, Robert and McNalty have competed at provincial competitions in the past, making the trek to North Bay in 2016 for a provincial qualifier.
David has been curling for about 12 years.
“I like curling. It’s fun,” says David.
“I like having something to do,” says Robert.
“I started a few years ago with these two (David and Robert) when I was 15,” says Griffiths. After taking a break, Griffiths decided to join up again last year after finding he missed it.
Benson has been with the club for eight years.
“I really enjoy working with the athletes. They’re great fun,” she says, adding she'd like to thank the Collingwood Curling Club for their continued support of the Special Olympic Curling Team.