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Hollywood Curling’s School of Rocks: Building the next generation of curlers

By Bobbie R. Todd, U.S. Curling News Columnist

ing Club (HCC). So, in 2015, HCC decided to fi nd a way to get the local youth population in Greater Los Angeles involved with their club and the sport of curling. In order to accomplish this, the head of the club’s Long-Term Planning Committee, Matt Gamboa, took on the task of spearheading the youth curling initiative now known as the HCC’s School of Rocks program. School of Rocks, which is a modifi ed version of Curling Canada’s Rocks and


Rings program, was created in order to introduce kids to the sport at an early age, as well as to provide more outreach and awareness of curling in their com- munity. HCC wanted to create this program in order to introduce the sport to community youth and encourage the youth to stick with the sport, in the hopes, that it would hopefully get their parents (and other family members) involve with the sport of curling as well. Additionally, HCC wanted to create a program that didn’t just fi ll a void, but also spurred prospective curlers to want to commit to the sport for a long time. In order to get this initiative off the ground, HCC ap- plied for and was awarded a grant from USA Curling to help promote the sport among youth and initiate in-school curling programs. In order to spread the good word about curling to kids and their families and

inform them about the School of Rocks program, Hollywood Curling has pri- marily focused on outreach. One of the main ways they have promoted School of Rock is through the use of “street curling.” Gamboa and others who are helping the club implement School of Rocks will oſt en transport the club’s gym curling set to events such as street fairs and festivals. By doing this, they are able to engage with their community and have people try curling without the hassle of trying to attract the members of the community to a local ice rink. Once people are able to see how much fun curling is, they are more apt to try curling on the ice. T is outreach has worked, as HCC’s number of youth curlers has increased. While Gamboa had originally thought that 12-15 year-olds would be the target age range for younger curlers in the program, he ended up fi nding that eight to 10-years-olds and older teens were more likely to respond. While having a curling club at every high school in the Los Angeles area is

fun to dream about, the reality is that it’s been diffi cult for Gamboa and HCC to gain and retain a foothold in any of the nearby schools. In fact, Gamboa has found the biggest challenge for the School of Rocks program to be getting gym curling introduced into area schools. While Gamboa has had some very good conversations with schools, and even some meetings, the communication oſt en stalls, timing doesn’t work out, or something else happens. Still, despite the lack of progress with introducing the program into schools,

the future of the School of Rocks program looks bright. Gamboa says the next step with the program will be to determine the best way to make more kids aware of the program. He and the club are currently working to fi gure out what worked, and what didn’t. T ey also want to fi nd instructors/coaches who are able to work well with diff erent age levels of kids. Further down the line, they’d like to get dedicated ice so they can create more fl exible schedules for the pro- gram. As of right now, the club curls out of two diff erent arenas in Los Angeles: one in Panorama City and one in Valencia. Having to split ice time between

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t is a widely held belief that in order to power the sport of curling, a club must fi nd a way to get people of all ages involved, including the young. T is was a sentiment shared by many members of the Hollywood Curl-

USA Curling launched the Curling in the Gym program during the 2014-15

season through the support of a P&G/Team USA Youth Sports Fund grant. T e program, which uses the FloorCurl™ Community Centre Package, is designed to expand knowledge of and access to the sport of curling while increasing physical activity in elementary school children. Curling in the Gym includes all materi- als and equipment needed for a teacher or community program leader to run an eight-to-10 session program. For children inspired to move out of the gym and try the sport on ice, the

Kids Curl program will be piloted in 10 member clubs this season. T is program, which is also made possible through a P&G/Team USA Youth Sports Fund grant, provides the framework needed for experienced curlers to lead a safe, fun, and age appropriate program in their clubs. Clubs selected to pilot the program will receive an equipment package for youth in addition to the lesson plans, kid’s workbook, attendance chart, stickers, patches, and pins. For more information on these programs, contact Kim Nawyn,, or Christy Hering, at the USA Curling national offi ce.

two arenas contributes to some of the growing pains currently experienced with the program. For example, because the ice at the arena in Panorama City isn’t the greatest, many people are not willing to curl there. But, the club was able to make use of that ice for the School of Rocks program by using part of a sheet for the kids to do drills. At their other host arena in Valencia, the club was able to form a team of some high school students and get them entered into league play. While the fu ture of HCC’s School of Rocks program may have some obstacles, they are hopeful that they will be able to engage with their community more and more each year. Q








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