The University Calgary “Dinos” athletics department has added a new sport to its varsity roster: curling.
This has been a long time coming for Jocelyn Peterman, who spearheaded the initiative. An Olympic curler and U of C alumnus, she was inspired while competing at the 2022 Beijing Olympics. “We were talking about some of the other countries and what they’re doing to be really good at the sport and they just train together kind of in a centralized location,” she explained, adding that a lot of athletes quit the sport after they age out of the U20 junior category. “I thought at that university age, if we could offer something to give them a bit more coaching so that they can move to that elite level in the men’s and women’s and stick with the sport – the university program was just kind of the logical solution.”
Ms. Peterman then emailed Dinos athletics director Ben Matchett, who she knew from her time as a student athlete, with her vision for the team and how to implement it. According to Mr. Matchett, “she had a whole bunch of the pieces in place,” from the team’s current training facility at Calgary’s Glencoe Club, to fundraising ideas. Peterman set up a fundraising committee who hosted a golf tournament in the summer and have more fundraising ventures planned, all in support of the team. A training program was created, including on-ice sessions, strength and condition, and mental coaching. She also enlisted the help of fellow Olympian (and husband) Brett Gallant and Heather Rogers, coach of the Denmark women’s team at the 2022 Winter Olympics. Olympians Lanie Peters and John Morris also joined for occasional coaching and training support.
Roughly 30 students tried out for the inaugural team in the fall, with 10 making the final cut: five female and five male athletes. As the Dinos team is new, it’s currently a seasonal endeavour for most of the athletes, including student curler Derek Bowyers. “Getting the chance to work with a coaching staff that all have Olympic experience either playing or coaching is something that you can’t get through any other program in the country and I think it will really make U of C stand out from other schools,” he said.
While this is the first year for the new Dinos team, both Ms. Peterman and Mr. Matchett have longevity in mind. For Ms. Peterman, she would like to see the program progress to become a year-round team for the athletes and adding another team for each gender. Mr. Matchett, who mentioned hosting future curling events is on his mind, said he’s keeping the community at the forefront of his vision for the team. “The importance for us is having the community in the sport of curling behind this effort.”