Being a late bloomer might just be the secret to loving the sport of curling, but don’t tell that to the kids. Pat McKenzie ‘officially’ started playing in her 40s after growing up watching her father on the ice. He was an avid curler, who seemed to teach by osmosis. Years later, Pat joined the women’s league and began teaching the game to junior curlers aged 6 to 14. Their youthful enthusiasm has inspired Pat to be a volunteer instructor for more than 11 years. Some of her students have become top competitors.
“I love watching our junior curlers develop their skills,” says Pat. “Sometimes they can be a handful, but mostly, as long as I make it fun for them, they are excited to learn. I remember one year after Christmas break, every one of the students got one across the hog line. I asked if they all had Wheaties in their turkey stuffing…. I was so excited to see it click for them. They surprise me every week. That’s my reward.”
While ensuring that the kids love the game is her top priority, Pat admits she hopes some of them make it to the provincial level. “I was very proud last season to have two of three former students move to the Manitoba hit tap and draw competition in Brandon at the brier. At the regional level, two of her students moved onto the provincial level and one of them won her age group. I was like a proud mom.”
With a busy schedule as a REALTOR® and volunteer instructor, Pat still makes time to play in the ladies’ league. She aims to be part of team that can offer their competitors a good game. Although her personal ambitions are modest, Pat could not resist rubbing the famed Brier cup for luck at last year’s competition (pictured above).
Back on her home ice at the Riverview Curling Club, Pat is looking forward to a strong junior season, thanks in part to a recent grant of $500 from the Bob Picken Junior Legacy Fund.
Pat is pleased to report that the grant will help to purchase equipment such as stabilizers for new players and sliders. To learn more about Sutton Spirit, visit www.suttonspirit.com