Building bonds and curling rocks

West Kildonan Collegiate curling teams feature experienced siblings

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This article was published 26/11/2021 (265 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

Curling has become something of a family affair for Luke and Ella Robins. The siblings play for their respective boys or girls curling teams at West Kildonan Collegiate. And both bring a level of experience to school squads that often comprise players fresh to the game.

But the Robins, boosted by their mother’s enthusiasm for the game and her devotion to watching all the top briers, have played for curling clubs for many years.

“I started nine years ago, in the third grade,” said Luke, 16. “But it probably wasn’t until a couple years ago where I really wanted to up my level of skill. I started going to camps. I started meeting new people, started competing in events.”

Supplied photo Luke Robins slides across the ice as he takes his shot with the West Kildonan curling squad.

When Luke talks about the game, his voice fills with a steely determination. The teenager has his sights set high.

“When I was little, I always watched the briers and Scotties on TV with (my mom),” he said. “And I remember when I started actually wanting to get more competitive. I always wanted to be like, ‘that’s the spot I want to be in one day.’ What keeps me coming back is that that’s where I want to be one day. And if I want to get there, then I have to strive to put my best out there.”

For younger-sibling Ella, the challenge she sets to herself is more internal.

“Honestly, for me, I don’t enjoy competition,” the 14-year-old said. Ella clarified that she does like friendly competition, but the sort of high-pressure, high-stakes bonspiels that Luke enters are not for her.

“I’m not interested in the aspect of, I have to win this game; this means everything,” she said. “I do this more like, OK, how can I improve so that I can play the best for my own enjoyment rather than the enjoyment of others.”

But the two do have a few things in common. First, they both credit their mother for their involvement in the sport. Second, they both said they love the strategy involved in the game. That’s something the two have in common with the boys team coach, Kari Kammerlock.

“The strategy involved is kind of like a game of chess on ice,” said Kammerlock, who is coaching for the first time but who curled competitively for much of her life.

She said the other boys, besides Luke, are just picking up the game for the first time.

“They are really excited,” she said. “The three that are newer are really excited to learn the game and a new skill.”

Luke’s experience has thrust him into something of a leadership role, Kammerlock said. He’s taken on the skip position for the first time in his curling career. That means he’ll be calling many of the shots and setting up the team’s strategies. He’s also become a teacher of sorts.

“He’s taking them under his wing and teaching them all about it,” she said.

That’s one of the great things about curling, Kammerlock said. The teams are small, communication is key, and that means building connections and budding friendships.

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