Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

No better man than Grassie to pen history

Has played in 15 MCA Bonspiels, dang near won it all last year

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THEY say you should write what you know.

So who better to write a book on the long and colourful history of the MCA Bonspiel than a man who has played in the last 15 of them and who came within one game of winning the whole thing last year.

Winnipeg's Sean Grassie, skip of both the 1999 Manitoba junior champion and the 2009 Canadian Mixed champion teams, has a new book chronicling the biggest and longest continually running bonspiel in the world.

pCalled Kings of the Rings, the book had its genesis in 2009 as Grassie's major project for his final year of Creative Communications at Red River College.

Three years, untold hours poring through the Free Press archives and more than 100 interviews later, Grassie's college project has morphed into a 208-page book that had its launch earlier this week.

And with that, a labour of love is now a book on a store shelf.

"After I got through school, I still wanted to see the project through and get it published," Grassie said this week. "I've been working on it the last couple years, especially in the winters...Basically, whatever spare time I had went into the book between curling, bonspiels and all that."

Published by Great Plains Publications, Grassie said the first run is 3,000 books and with Christmas coming up and the bonspiel celebrating its 125th anniversary next month, the 34-year-old may have himself a local bestseller on his hands.

He did not lack for material. Begun in 1887, the Bonspiel has survived uninterrupted through two World Wars and the polio epidemic and has been as much a cultural institution as a sporting one in Winnipeg through the decades.

Teams from around the world have travelled to play in it and it remains almost without parallel in sport as an event where the rankest of amateurs can find themselves playing against a world champion -- and even beating them.

Grassie tells the colourful stories behind the institution: how Manitoba premier John Bracken skipped a trophy winner in 1936 -- beating his minister of public works in the final; the year a three-man team won it; and the year legendary Winnipeg Blue Bombers head coach Bud Grant won a trophy as a third.

But perhaps the best story would have been the one Grassie very nearly authored for himself last January, when he skipped his team all the way to the Bonspiel's championship final before losing in the final game.

They say in sports there's always next year. That is literally true at the MCA Bonspiel, for 125 years and counting.

paul.wiecek@freepress.mb.ca

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition December 1, 2012 C4

History

Updated on Saturday, December 1, 2012 at 5:10 PM CST: fixes "poring" typo

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