Ferbey Four alternate inducted into the St. Albert Curling Club's wall of fame
Wednesday, Jun 04, 2014 06:00 am
Dan Holowaychuk is in select company on the St. Albert Curling Club’s wall of fame.
The St. Albert resident is the first curler to be recognized for his contributions since the 2011 inaugural ceremony honouring Hec Gervais, Don McKenzie, Cathy King, Jackie Rae Greening, Scott Pfeifer and Marc Kennedy.
“It’s a real honour,” said an excited Holowaychuk during Saturday’s plaque unveiling in the Friendly Giant Lounge. “When you look at the names up on the wall I’ve curled with them and against them. I’ve seen them all. It’s my era.”
The pinnacle of Holowaychuk’s remarkable career was his distinguished role as alternate for the legendary Ferbey Four – five-time Alberta champions, four-time Brier winners and three-time world gold medallists as the Alberta Curling Federation’s Team of the Century.
“Most people know us as the Ferbey Four but anyone that knows us really closely it’s always been the Ferbey Five,” said Pfeifer, the all-star second on the Ferbey Four and the evening’s guest speaker. “It was back in 2001 when we won our first provincial championship. We all knew Dan for a long time so it wasn’t a hard decision for us to make when we selected him as our fifth. Back then we didn’t realize how big of a role and how big of an impact he would have on our team so we’re grateful for that.
“We’ve had so many laughs and good memories over the years.”
Holowaychuk was a curler a young and talented Pfeifer looked up to.
“I remember growing up here at the curling club back in ’88, ’89, ’90 and he was on the team to beat so in a way I kind of owe him a little bit of my success because you’re always aiming to beat that guy that is ahead of you and Dan was one of those guys,” Pfeifer said.
It was a thrill of a lifetime for Holowaychuk to be part of one of the greatest curling teams ever assembled.
“It was a good run with those guys. I got to travel the world and won some world championships and some Briers,” he said. “The guys on the ice were the show but there is lots of things that happen behind the scenes. There were some fun things and some serious things. These guys are basically married to one another for 10 years and sometimes you need a mediator. I just tried to keep it a little light and maybe that brought out a little better game in them.”
Holowaychuk started curling in St. Albert in 1986 and is a six-time club champion and two-time city champion – in 1989 he skipped a men’s rink to victory in the Edmonton and area Tournament of Champions – and in 1993/94 his St. Albert mixed team rink was the provincial finalist.
Last year as second for the Wade White rink the St. Albert reps won the senior (50-plus) Alberta championship and were national bronze medallists.
“I’ve been very fortunate. The game of curling has been really, really good to me. I’ve got to meet a lot of good people and I’ve played with some great teammates,” said Holowaychuk, who continues to curl in the men’s and seniors’ playdowns with the White foursome. “At each different stage it was exhilarating. They were all big highlights at the time. It was with different people at different times but they were all with friends.
“That first club championship was a big thrill for me. It was huge. Back then I was a younger guy here and we always had some good tough matches and we were able to prevail.
“I never got to nationals as a curler but I finally overcame that hurdle on the ice with our senior team and that was a big thrill. I made it to Canadians but didn’t win it but someday maybe that will happen.”
Holowaychuk also served on the Edmonton super league board in its heyday, was the Edmonton Brier committee director overseeing the Brier patch, volunteered for the Continental Cup in St. Albert and the last number of years was heavily involved with the Little Rocks and junior programs at the club.
“I’ve had some success in curling but for me it’s about the development of the game and growing the Little Rocks program,” Holowaychuk said. “I’m hoping these Little Rocks will be the next ones up on this wall of fame.”
Holowaychuk grew up in north Edmonton and started rocking the ice at age five at the Lancaster Park club while his parents were upstairs socializing following their mixed games.
“I would put two feet in the hack and throw a rock and try and get it down to the other end.”
In Grade 11 he joined some friends at Archbishop O’Leary to curl in a high school league at the Sportex. St. Albert curling enthusiast Buddy Beley was his first skip.
“I could sweep pretty good with a cornbroom,” Holowaychuk said. “That was really the big start for me. After that a bunch of us would go play in bonspiels in the eastern towns.”
After moving to St. Albert in 1983 he hooked up with some rinkmates while exploring the bonspiel and playdown circuits.
“We had lots of fun and great memories.”
Holowaychuk, 52, is grateful for the club’s support during his tenure in St. Albert.
“I’ve been treated well by the club over a long stretch of the time. I didn’t start my curling here but I kind of made my roots here,” he said. “I would like to thank all the staff that helped me out over the years opening the building up so I can throw some rocks once in a while at lunch time or whenever it might be, and especially the committee or whoever decided to put me up on this great wall of fame. There is some incredible curling names in this city.”