A local curling team is gearing up for the 2023 Canadian Masters Curling Championships in Saint John, New Brunswick. The annual event, which features some of the country’s most experienced throwers and sweepers, will take place from April 3rd through the 9th.
Comprised of Wade White (skip), Doug McLennan (3rd), Danny Holowachuk (2nd) and George Parsons (lead), this team is no stranger to success. In 2013, they won the provincial senior championship while representing St. Albert. To qualify for the 2023 nationals, the squad had to get through a gauntlet of seasoned competitors in this year’s provincial playdowns, including a tough finals matchup against Scott Egger’s Calgary area team.
McLennan and Holowachuk have a long history with the St. Albert Curling Club. Holowachuk has worked with the youth and junior programs, while McLennan has spent 14 years on the organization's board, including four as president. He was also a member of the building committee during the rink’s 2010 renovation project.
The Canadian Masters Curling Championships is a highly competitive event that will feature former Brier and World champions such as Al Hackner from Northern Ontario, who won the tournament last year. And while Team Alberta will inevitably have a number of tough matchups out east, they will bring with them a wealth of experience and accolades.
White and Holowachuk are two time senior men's world champions, while Parsons and McLennan won another Alberta seniors title in 2015 with Glen Hansen and Don Bartlett.
No funding from Curling Alberta
Unfortunately for Team Alberta, the province’s curling authority will not be providing the team with funding for their cross-country trip.
“You can't help feeling embarrassed for the provincial organization for not funding Masters,” said McLennan. “These are the people who always volunteer for local, provincial, national and international events when they come to town. They work the bingos, the casinos and countless other fundraisers, all the while driving their kids to events all over the country. Then there's the matter of Curling Alberta fees that these people have paid for years.”
Curling Alberta maintains that it is not situated to cover these expenses.
“Curling Alberta, like most other provincial sport organizations, is not in a position to provide funding directly to any teams attending national championships,” said the body’s Executive Director Jill Richard. “Rather, support is provided in other forms. For example, uniforms, awards, and registration fees are all expenses covered by the provincial governing body. However, it is true that the Masters category is not officially sanctioned by Curling Canada, and that the national championship is supported differently by the national body relative to other categories.”
Accordingly, McLennan and his team have taken the initiative to arrange uniform and event program sponsorships.
“We're allowed to display sponsor logos on our clothing and in the online digital program,” said McLennan. “Games will also be streamed on YouTube so there's decent exposure for potential sponsors.”
A number of local businesses have already agreed to partner with the team.
“We have a few friends in the business community: Desjardin Spruce Grove, Global Machine and Supply, DGC Contracting, Surepoint Technology, Best Western Edson, and Garry’s Heating, all of whom have offered a little financial assistance, and Hardline Curling will also chip in brush heads.”
“Danny and I are fortunate to belong to the St Albert Curling Club, and George plays out of Crestwood,” added McLennan. “Both clubs have always supported their members in some capacity when they move on to national events.”