Now that curling is no longer a sports option this coming winter in Hay River, some people have turned to bowling.
Angela Carter can’t say for sure that she wouldn’t be on a bowling team if curling was still available this year.
However, she said, “Four of our five players are curlers.”
And it’s been two years since they bowled as a team, and curled during that time.
“We bowled for years before we went over to curling,” she said. “Sometimes it’s nice to have that break and we were all quite happy to come back and bowl again this year.”
Carter – taking a quick break from bowling on Oct. 7 at Lizard’s Lounge & Lanes – said it is absolutely good to have the option of bowling.
Like other curlers, she can’t take to the ice because the curling rink – along with the arena – is no more with the demolition and planned rebuild of the Don Stewart Recreation Centre.
Carter thinks it’s sad the curling rink and the arena are not available this coming winter.
“For the most part, people are finding ways to fill their time without the arena,” she said. “They’re going to love it that much more when they see it’s built and ready to go.”
Paul Power, a member of the same team as Carter, is more definite about what he would be doing if the Rec Centre was still standing this coming winter.
“I would definitely still be curling, for sure,” he said, noting he previously bowled for about five years before moving to curling about three years ago.
Power said bowling will fill in for curling this winter.
“I know for myself I’ll probably go back curling next year once the arena opens up again,” he said. “Not sure about the rest of the team members. I really enjoyed curling. Bowling is a lot of fun as well, but I like curling.”
Chabby Morin also curled last year before moving to bowling for this season.
“I had to do something in the winter,” he said. “This was the next best thing, I guess.”
Morin said it’s been about 10 years since he bowled and his technique is a little rough around the edges but is coming back.
Tracy Cross Gauthier, manager of Lizard’s Lounge & Lanes, said the number of bowlers is up this year for the adult leagues, which began on Sept. 14 and take place on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday nights. The leagues will run until the end of April.
“I’m going to guess I had I bet you at least a half a dozen, maybe 10, who did not bowl last year who are bowling this year,” she said.
While she knows some of those people are bowling because curling is not available, she cannot say exactly how many.
“It is up slightly, but the people that are here are different,” she said. “Some of the other people that consistently bowl decided to take a year off perhaps and it was very easy to fill those spots with curlers, basically.”
Cross Gauthier said bowling offers many of the same things as curling – camaraderie, friendship, team play and socializing – and something to do after a long week.
She hopes any new bowlers might stay with the sport.
“Of course, we always want them to stay, but I know that it will work the same way. They might bowl for a year or two and then decide to go back to either hockey or curling or whatever the case may be,” she said.
While noting that the number of participants has gone up for youth bowling, Cross Gauthier doesn’t believe it is related to the absence of the curling rink or the arena.