Mt. A’s bonspiel blues

Should curling return to Mt. A after a 30-year absence?

Mount Allison University has not had a curling team since the early 1980s, but some Mt. A students think it is time for the Mounties to hurry hard once again.

Second-year Mt. A student Martin Omes says an official Mt. A curling team would hold numerous benefits for aspiring curlers, such as the ability to compete against the other university curling teams in the Maritimes, and a good shot at competing nationally. Omes is not sure why the Athletic Department does not recognize a curling team, but said that student curlers have been pushing for a couple of years. He said it is possible that the sport’s reputation might be working against it.

“People don’t even consider it a sport. That’s the hardest part. I guess when you would say you are on the Mt. A varsity curling team, most people would say you are not an athlete. That would be our hardest goal: to show the Athletic Department that it takes a lot of athletic ability,” Omes said, noting that his teammates in other sports just laugh when curling enters the conversation.

While some people may be skeptical as to the athletic merits of curling, more serious roadblocks exist for would-be Atlantic University Sport curlers: neither Atlantic University Sport (AUS) nor the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association (ACAA) post curling standings, schedules, or statistics on their respective websites—through respective parent organizations Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) both offer coverage of national curling events. However, the real hurdle is the Athletic Department itself: in an email, Athletics Director Pierre Arsenault told The Argosy that the Athletics Department’s priority was buttressing the sports it offers, not adding new ones. “Adding new sports only complicated [sic] the ability to invest in our current teams and student athletes,” Arsenault said, adding that sustained student interest coupled with a sustainable financial model could change Mt. A’s mind about curling.

Despite these challenges, Omes believes Mt. A could field a competitive team if the University chose to do so. “I believe we would have the ability [to compete nationally]. We have people who have been provincial champions, or have been close to that ability,” he said. “I believe we would have a good shot to make nationals with the calibre of players we have,” he continued. A team of Mt. A students placed third at mixed provincials last year.

Mt. A’s curling community is small but dedicated: Omes says there are about ten students who regularly play and participate in the area’s non-university leagues. “We have a really nice club. We have the practice time, we have people in the community who would help us, we already have someone who would volunteer to coach our team—all we need is the okay to represent Mt. A in tournaments,” Omes said.

If Mt. A had a men’s curling team, it could compete in either the AUS or the ACAA.  The men’s and women’s Memorial University Sea-Hawks, Dalhousie Tigers, Saint Mary’s Huskies, the Acadia University Axemen and Axewomen, the University of Prince Edward Island women’s Panthers, and the St. Francis Xavier X-Women compete in the AUS as club teams. The ACAA hosts a single team: the Holland College Hurricanes.

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