Homecoming for Glenn Howard
Four...and counting. That's how it is at the Coldwater curling club where Glenn Howard was presented with the 2008 Ontario Men's Curling Championship banner last night.
The banner will join three others captured by Howard's team that already hang in the rink of host club Coldwater, beside three championships won by Sherry Middaugh's team, which also calls the Coldwater club home.
Back in February, Howard skipped his team of Craig Savill (lead), Brent Laing (second) and Richard Hart (third) to a 9-4 victory over the Peter Corner team to claim victory at the Tankard, held in Waterloo. The went on to the final in the Brier where they were defeated by Kevin Martin's team from Alberta.
"Three (provincial championships) in a row," said Howard after the banner presentation.
"We're at the top of our game and there's no reason it can't continue."
Howard was the only team member able to attend the presentation, which coincided with curling registration for the club, but he said the team is proud to call Coldwater its host club.
"We're sort of grassroots. Four down-to-earth kind of guys... and you just kind of get that easygoing feeling here."
The enthusiastic applause for Howard and his team's accomplishments demonstrated the feeling of pride is mutual.
"When you see Glenn throwing those rocks in the world championship and Ontario championship, it's great because they just keep saying 'from Coldwater, Ontario," Simcoe North MPP Garfield Dunlop told the crowd.
Coldwater curling club manager Deb Stone said Howard and Middaugh are both happy to come and join in events at the club. Members, in turn, get a chance to boast two top curling teams that call their club home.
"It really gets you involved," she said.
Entering its ninth season, the curling club is hoping to have at least as many curlers registered as last year -- a number around 330, she said.
Howard said the Coldwater club's active junior programs run from the non-competitive Little Rocks to the juniors.
"They've got a great youth program," he said, noting it's important to get young people interested in the sport.
Since clinching a berth at the 2010 Olympic qualifier being held in Edmonton next year, the team is planning to take a slightly more relaxed approach to this season, although the goal will still be to play well and win, Howard said.
That more relaxed approach might also have an added benefit for the Coldwater club. Due to their busy schedule and the fact that the team members are scattered from Ottawa to the Horseshoe Valley area, they don't often get a chance to play at the Coldwater rink.
"Hopefully, maybe this year," said Howard. "Because it's a bit slowed because we don't have to worry about the Olympic qualifier."