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St. Albert curlers head to New Brunswick for Masters Championships

Team of over 60 representing Alberta against Canada’s best in a prestigious annual curling competition.

A local curling team prepares for the 2023 Canadian Masters Curling Championships in Saint John, New Brunswick. The annual event, which features some of the country’s most experienced throwers and sweepers, takes place from April 3rd to 9th.

Comprised of Wade White (Skip), Doug McLennan (3rd), Danny Holowachuk (2nd) and George Parsons (Lead), this team is no stranger to success. In 2013, representing St. Albert, they won the senior national championship. To qualify for the 2023 Nationals, the roster had to face a gauntlet of veteran opponents in this year’s provincial playdowns, including a tough final against Scott Egger’s Calgary-area team.

McLennan and Holowachuk have a long history with the St. Albert Curling Club. Holowachuk has worked with youth and youth programs, while McLennan has spent 14 years on the organization’s board, including four years as president. He was also a member of the construction committee during the ice rink’s renovation project in 2010.

The Canadian Masters Curling Championships is a highly competitive event that will feature former Brier and World champions such as Northern Ontario’s Al Hackner, who won the tournament last year. And while Team Alberta will inevitably have a string of tough matchups in the East, they will bring a wealth of experience and accolades with them.

White and Holowachuk are two-time senior world champions, while Parsons and McLennan won another senior title in Alberta in 2015 with Glen Hansen and Don Bartlett.

No funding from Curling Alberta

Unfortunately for Team Alberta, the province’s curling authority will not provide funds for the team’s cross-country trip.

“You can’t help but feel ashamed of the provincial organization for not funding Masters,” McLennan said. “These are the people who always volunteer for local, provincial, national and international events when they come to town. They work at bingo, the casinos, and countless other fundraisers while driving their kids to events across the country. Then there’s the matter of the curling fees in Alberta, which these people have been paying for years.”

Curling Alberta claims it is unable to cover these costs.

“Curling Alberta, like most other sporting organizations in the province, is unable to provide direct funding to teams competing in national championships,” said Jill Richard, executive director of the organization. “Rather, support is provided in a different form. For example, uniforms, awards, and registration fees are all expenses borne by the provincial government. However, it is true that the Masters category is not officially sanctioned by Curling Canada and that the national championship is supported differently by the national organization compared to other categories.”

Accordingly, McLennan and his team have taken the initiative to arrange uniform and event program sponsorship.

“We’re allowed to show sponsor logos on our apparel and in the online digital program,” McLennan said. “The games will also be streamed on YouTube, giving potential sponsors a fair exposure.”

A number of local companies have already agreed to work with the team.

“We have a few friends in the business community: Desjardin Spruce Grove, Global Machine and Supply, DGC Contracting, Surepoint Technology, Best Western Edson and Garry’s Heating who have all offered a little financial support and Hardline Curling will also be giving chips in brush heads .”

“Danny and I are fortunate to belong to the St. Albert Curling Club and George plays out of Crestwood,” added McLennan. “Both clubs have always supported their members in some way when they have moved on to national events.”

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