The sound of rocks gliding down the pebbled ice, coupled with the noise being made by teenagers who skid after them while ‘hurrying hard’, all of it coming together inside a long, impressive facility that is chilly from the inside out.
Yep, the sport of curling is once again being played in the village of Strongfield.
Specifically, it’s the curling rink that has made its triumphant return after nearly a seven month absence, proving that sometimes the biggest things can happen in even the smallest of communities.
“It feels pretty good,” said Amanda Glubis, President of the Strongfield Rec Board. “It’s nice to have the whole high school bonspiel at home, too. There was a curling practice last night, but this is the first big event.”
It was back on July 20 that a monstrous wind storm levelled the village’s long-time and beloved rink to the ground, destroying decades of history and community togetherness within mere minutes. The disastrous weather was linked to a storm that ended up rocking much of the Lake Diefenbaker region, including the town of Outlook, but the devastating loss of Strongfield’s curling rink was what resonated with much of the local population.
Fast forward to this past Thursday, February 8, and high school students from Loreburn Central School were the first to curl in the new rink with their annual bonspiel event.
The look of the building is quite similar to the old one, as the storm managed to spare the southern half of the facility that housed things like the kitchen and the viewing area. New additions include new lights, new walkways and new seats, as well as a number of business signs and logo rings on the ice, done as a way to sell advertising and help contribute to the facility and the community in general.
But even though the curling rink is playable, things aren’t 100% completed just yet.
“We still want to put insulation on the walls and tin them, and then blow insulation in the ceiling,” said Amanda. “It’ll be this summer probably, once seeding is done and then we can get the work going again. It won’t take long because we have the insulation, so it just has to be put up. The ice was ready yesterday.”
The road to once again having a curling rink in Strongfield wasn’t without a lot of questions that some didn’t have answers to at times. In the end, although the rink was covered for roughly $125,000, the community wanted to upgrade it and ensure that it’ll last just as long if not longer than the original facility.
That meant fundraising, and outside of the amazing public support that has been shown since the storm demolished the original rink, a Christmas party held on December 9 at the community hall that featured supper, an auction and live entertainment ended up raising over $19,000 for the rink; an astronomical number that blows Glubis away and exceeded all expectations.
“There has just been continuous money coming in,” she said. “We thought if we could make eight or ten thousand from the Christmas event, we’d be happy.”
It wasn’t long after the Christmas event that the new rink started taking serious shape, with volunteers putting in a lot of hours and effort to finish it so that it could be used for the season; people such as George Follick, Ron Follick, Jeff Vollmer, Dave Wirth, Ryan Glubis and Devin Ellscheid, who committed a lot of their time since the beginning of January to see things through.
With the actual sport now once again being played at the rink, it’s also time to move one of Strongfield’s most enduring weekly activities back over to the community hub.
“We’ve been holding our Monday suppers at the hall because this only just got cleaned up yesterday,” said Amanda. “We’ve had four suppers over there, and we’ll move back here this coming Monday.”
The resurrection of Strongfield’s curling rink wasn’t without its share of twists and turns like any other construction project, but Glubis is just glad to see that a part of the village’s history is now back intact, even if it means starting a new chapter.
“It’s overwhelming,” she said. “It’s nice to have people behind you. It should’ve been done a lot sooner, but once they got going, it went really fast. It’s been all volunteer work for the last month or so, and it says a lot about a small town.”
Indeed, it appears as though not even Mother Nature herself can keep a small town down for long.