Stepping Stones To Curling Club

Radio and television arts Prof. supports two students' bid to have a curling club at Ryerson.

Michael Coutanche, a radio and television arts professor at Ryerson, supports two students’ bid to have a curling club.

Curling could be hurrying hard to Ryerson as students are taking the first steps to form a club for the sport.

The club’s would-be founders have already spoken to Ryerson’s sports clubs co-ordinator — now, it’s just a matter of filling out paperwork and submitting an application to advance to the next stage.

“The goal is to go out and compete in the OUAs (Ontario University Athletics),” said second-year urban planning student Stuart Leslie.

Leslie and Alex Champ, a first-year student studying business management, currently play at the Leaside Curling Club in the Ontario Junior Curling Tour. They said many of the people they compete against also curl for their respective university teams.

Ryerson hasn’t had a curling team in years, but Leslie’s confident that “there is interest there.”

Most of the other universities in the area have at least recreational curling, so why not Ryerson?

The Leaside Curling Club, located about a half-hour away by TTC, has offered its ice to Ryerson should the time comes. Leslie said the club would like to see a rivalry stir up between the Rams and University of Toronto.

Leslie and Champ have also reached out to Michael Coutanche, a radio and television arts professor and a curler for more than 30 years. Although the situation is still tentative at this point, Coutanche could act as a coach for the team, and a connection with administration.

“I’d certainly love to be involved,” Coutanche said.

Coutanche said he noticed that the sport is gaining popularity among young people and is excited that Champ and Leslie are laying the groundwork for a club.

Coutanche said he asks his classes if there are curlers in the crowd and “the number of hands that go up is growing…(There’s a) very strong junior development going on in Ontario.”

After Leslie and Champ submit an application to have the club approved, they can hold information sessions and see what the turnout is like. However, they won’t know the application’s result until the New Year.

Despite not yet having a team of its own to speak of, Ryerson will be hosting the Players’ Championship at the Mattamy Athletic Centre for the second time in two years next April. The tournament is a major event in the Grand Slam of Curling — part of the World Curling Tour — and was broadcast on Sportsnet from the MAC in 2013.

The first phase of forming a competitive team might be slow going, but Leslie and Champ are happy things are moving forward.

“By the time we’re done (with school), we’d like the team playing at the provincial level,” Leslie said.

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