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PARRY SOUND - This week about 300 elementary school students will flock to Parry Sound to participate in the 25th anniversary of the Timbits Provincial Elementary School Curling Championship.
The tournament began and was first hosted here in 1989 with eight elementary school teams.
While organizers joke that the math may seem a little off, Ray Pavlove, one of the event's founders explains that initially the province was broken into two parts, and some years, championships were held in both northern and southern Ontario - hence, the 25th anniversary of the event.
Starting Thursday morning at 8 a.m., curlers will take to the ice at both the Bobby Orr Community Centre and the Parry Sound Curling Club with the finals on Sunday.
Opening ceremonies begin 5:30 p.m. Friday at the BOCC.
"The public is welcome to watch any of the curling events, anywhere," said one of this year's organizers Deanna Jackson. "The curling games are going to be going on all day Thursday, Friday and Saturday at either the Parry Sound Curling Club or the Bobby Orr Community Centre. The public is welcome to come any time and there's no cost to come and watch."
Pavlove explained that curling is more than just a game. It fosters relationships and encourages teamwork among students who may not otherwise interact within their school.
"Curling is a game where the whole team has to participate. When you throw your rock, the other two guys have to sweep it for you," he said. "They're on your side. So some kids, with little self-esteem, all of a sudden they have got people who are on their side. And they have to do the same thing (sweep) for somebody else who's throwing. All of a sudden the kids are put in a position where they have to work together in a friendly way."
During the opening ceremonies, provincial wheelchair curling champion and former Parry Sounder Mark Ideson will throw the ceremonial first rock.
"I love the social aspect of it - meeting new people," said Ideson, who has been playing from a wheelchair for the last two years, but played casually during his early teens and again in his mid-20.
"I love the combination of skill and strategy - I love playing chess. It's a game that just suits my mind. I like the fact that you're only in control of your own two rocks, and you rely heavily on your teammates for the other six, so it's a true, team sport."
One of the event organizers, Trudie Johnson, said she and other members of the organizing committee of 14 have been working for the last two years to bring the event back for the 25th anniversary.
"We're really fortunate, the key players in this are Al Bourgeois, manager of the Parry Sound Curling Club, Phyllis Harris, who is a retired teacher and she's just mega-organized and she's in charge of all the volunteers, Laura Thompson who retired from teaching last year and has done running - those are the people who have done all the ground work in making sure things get done and Ray, of course. (And) Nanci Beers has worked since last September on the website and program. She was integral to the scheduling of 80 teams an getting information out to coaches and schools across Ontario. Thank goodness for her amazing organizational skills.