Inuvik youth get their curl on

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The Inuvik Curling Club hosted its second annual Rockstar Festival for junior curlers at the Midnight Sun Complex on Feb. 3, with youth from the ages of five to nine competing for a trophy that stood six feet tall.

Tyler Bain, 5, of Team NT aims his shot during a game at the second annual Rockstar Festival, which was hosted by the Inuvik Curling Club on Feb. 3 at the Midnight Sun Complex in Inuvik. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo
Tyler Bain, 5, of Team NT aims his shot during a game at the second annual Rockstar Festival, which was hosted by the Inuvik Curling Club on Feb. 3 at the Midnight Sun Complex in Inuvik. Aaron Hemens/NNSL Photo

For many of the 35 budding curlers, it was their first time playing the game.

“We just wanted to introduce the sport to a lot more kids at a young age and hopefully they’ll continue on with curling when they’re older,” said Nick Saturnino, president of the Inuvik Curling Club.

The youth – or rockstars – were divided into 12 teams, where they played three-on-three games on half of a curling sheet. Each team played five or six games, and the players on the winning team were each rewarded $5.

“One of them is shooting the rock, when one of them is sweeping, the other one is calling the game,” Saturnino said. “I just hope kids have a good time and enjoy curling, and maybe they’ll want to try junior curling when they’re nine or 10.”

The rockstars got creative with their team names, which included everything from Finder Sweepers, Diamond That Rock, Huffle Puffs, Ninja and Team Awesome.

Teams were put into four categories – age five, age six, age seven, and ages eight and nine. The winning team of each category had the opportunity to play for the trophy.

Curl Power from the six-year-old category took home first place, followed by Shadow Curlers from the eight/nine-year-old category in second and Team NT from the seven-year-old category in third.

“I think it’s a great event for the younger kids. There’s not much to do for them,” said Shayna Allen, whose five-year-old son Nate got to experience curling for the first time at the festival.

“It’s good to see him learn new stuff and get excited while he’s doing it,” she added.

The festival was free for all participants. There were door prizes and the club supplied pizza, juice boxes and ice cream for all of the kids.

“It’s super well-organized. It’s great to have the food. The kids just enjoy it so much,” said Anick Jenks, who came to support her six-year-old daughter Marlo.

“This is very fun. The organizers have kept them in mind with the pizza, ice cream, this huge trophy. It makes it super fun for the kids. Its all free, too. It’s fantastic,” Jenks said.

She praised the festival for being a great opportunity for kids to try something different, especially for those who haven’t done curling before.

“It’s fun for them to give it a try in this super fun and safe environment. They have a really good time,” she said. “They’re learning a lot about sports, sportsmanship, having fun and the game itself.”

Although the number of participants went down from 70 kids in 2018 to 35 this year, Saturnino said the festival has influenced other cities in the NWT to adopt a similar tournament for youth.

“The NWT Curling Association has implemented this now. They’re promoting it. Yellowknife is doing something similar and Hay River is doing something similar this weekend,” he said. “Not necessarily the same format, but they’re doing something to get the kids curling.”

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Aaron Hemens served as the editor of the Inuvik Drum from January to August 2019. He's responsible for reporting on everything Inuvik, from covering community gatherings and sporting events, to writing the weekly columns. He's a dedicated photographer who loves getting to know the town through the community members that he meets. He's originally from Ottawa, Ont., where he graduated from Carleton University's journalism program in 2018. He can be contacted at 867-777-4545 or at inuvikdrum@nnsl.com. You can check out his photos on his Instagram account: @aaron.hemens.

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