The Sutherland Curling Club is home to the new Blind Curling League in Saskatchewan! This league is open to anyone who is blind, partially sighted, or deafblind. The sessions take place at the Sutherland Curling Club in Saskatoon on Sunday nights from 7-9 pm.
How did this league start?
This league got its start when Howard Berntsen and Charlene Young began chatting about the idea of a Saskatoon Blind Curling League. Howard and Charlene conducted numerous discussions within the visually impaired community and that generated interest. It was apparent that there was a want and need to make the league a reality. Further discussions also took place with the provincial and national curling communities. Support was sought from organizations that helped to spearhead the league such as Sask Sport, CURLSASK and the Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association (SBSA).
A member of the visually impaired community and life-long curler, Kathy Mudrey, volunteered her partner, Roger Moskaluke to coordinate the league. Roger is a Certified High Performance coach with CURLSASK and jumped at the opportunity to give back to the game he loves and get this league going.
Support for the league has been tremendous. Fraser Hintz, a visually impaired curler from British Columbia, helped us get started along with Michael Hines, President of the SBSA, also a visually impaired curler from Regina, were instrumental in supporting Roger, Kathy, Charlene, and Howard in making this league a reality. Roger sought further support from members of the curling community of which he has been a part of for 30 years. A huge thank you goes to Dwayne Yachiw for providing the ice at the Sutherland Curling Club. Danae Mack from Vision Loss Rehabilitation provided special instruction in working with members of the visually impaired community. Other volunteers from High Performance Junior Curling, previous curlers, University of Saskatchewan student, and high schoolers have offered to help as instructors.
How many people are currently involved in the league?
Right now, we have 14 curlers in the league many of whom have never curled before. There are a few who participated in a similar league over 20 years ago. The first few weeks are geared towards getting to know the ice surface, learning how to slide or use a stick and some basic throwing. Those who have played before will be starting games by mid-November. The rules for visually impaired curling are a little different than regular curling. There are 5 people to a team. Four members of the team must be part of the Functioning Classification. A designated sweeper as a B2 or B3 is allowed, and a fully sighted guide can act as the fifth member of the team. There is an opportunity to participate at the Western Canadian Curling Championships as well as the National Curling Championships.
Why is this league important to have in Saskatoon?
This league is important to have in Saskatoon because it gives people who are blind, deafblind, or partially sighted the chance to dive into a new sport. Curling is popular, and it’s crucial that everyone, regardless of vision, gets a fair shot. Plus, it’s officially recognized as a blind sport by both the Saskatchewan Blind Sports Association and the Canadian Blind Sports Association. And it’s a great way for people to connect with others who’ve gone through similar experiences with vision loss.
We welcome anyone who is interested to come and try the sport and volunteers, guides, and spectators are always welcome.