Stick curling is much more than wins and losses for a decorated duo from Cornwall.
Ruth Stavert and Gloria Clarke have won eight of the 11 Maritime championships that have been played, but the sport’s impact on them goes much deeper. It has kept them active and having fun while building new relationships in retirement.
“We all like to win, don’t get me wrong. None of us would ever go out on the ice and not try our best to win. But trying your best is different than always winning,” Clarke said. “Winning is great, but it’s kind of secondary.”
Clarke said the friendships stand out the most to her. She enjoys playing the sport with friends and taking trips to Maritime competitions to catch up with her peers.
“It’s just a wonderful fraternity of friends,” she said. “You only see them once a year, but you feel like you know them more than that.”
“There’s always a great hugging time when we meet one another,” Stavert added.
The duo’s path to stick curling is different, but the love of sport and friendship that sport has provided them is very similar.
Stavert, a 70-year-old Cornwall resident, began curling in 1970 in the old Montague club.
In 2013, she had hip replacement surgery and during her six-week checkup asked her orthopedic surgeon if she could return to curling. The surgeon said she could try it.
A few days after receiving the green light to try it, she went to the club with her husband, Ernie, to test it. The results weren’t positive.
Disappointed, she returned home.
Once there Ernie started working on something downstairs. He later appeared with her push broom with an apparatus attached to the top that Ruth could use on the ice as a crutch.
They went back to the club to test it and the apparatus passed with flying colours.
Clarke, 69, grew up on P.E.I., met her husband, Adrian, and moved to Newfoundland and Labrador for years to teach.
She learned to curl in Happy Valley-Goose Bay, N.L., in 1972 at the club on the Canadian Forces Base.
“Until that time, I had never thrown a rock in my life,” she said. “I joined the ladies league with three other great friends and great curlers. We jumped in off the deep end, and nobody wants to skip, so guess what, ‘Gloria was the skip’. And we had a ball of fun.”
The Clarkes returned to P.E.I. in 2009 after retiring.
Gloria had been away from the sport for about 20 years when she heard stick curling was an option in Cornwall.
Stavert asked Clarke if she was interested in curling together.
The sport was relatively new on P.E.I., so they played with men’s teams to gain experience. It took a while to catch on, Clarke said.
“It’s a wonderful sport,” Clarke added. “I don’t think many people realize how good a game the actual two-person stick curling game is.
“You’re always on – you’re either throwing the rock or skipping.”
Clarke said she is grateful to have stumbled across the sport and at such a fun, supportive club in Cornwall.