By The Gleamer

Marg Maranda remembers reading an item suggesting curling was a “lifestyle built around a sport.”

The new executive director for the New Brunswick Curling Association now has a personal point of reference.

Maranda, who has lived in the Minto area for some 20 years, took over the position from Debbie McCann in early July. McCann held the job for a year on an interim basis.

“When people would ask me what sport I enjoyed the most, I’d always tell them curling. Not only is it the most sociable of sports, it’s something you can take up as young as five or six and play until you can’t get on the ice anymore. And you can play at any level you want. It can be recreational, or for some of the youngsters getting into the sport, they might want to focus on playing at the Canada Games, provincial or even national levels.”

Maranda’s job is to make sure there’s programs in place for any and all who might be inclined to take up and participate in what’s affectionately called the ‘roarin’ game.

“I’ve always been an organizer, and through my volunteer work in the Minto area helping out with telethons and fundraisers and groups like the Grand Lake Ringette Association, my organizational skills have gotten a lot better. It’s something I love to do anyway, so when this job opened up, it was too good to pass up. I had been looking for a change anyway so it worked out perfectly.”

Even better is that she gets an opportunity to coordinate activities in a sport that she and her family played at a recreational level before the move to Minto made it prohibitive to continue. “There wasn’t a club (in Minto) so it meant I would have had to drive to Fredericton at night to play and I just didn’t feel I wanted to do that,” she said. “But I always missed playing.”

She sees soliciting and cultivating sponsorship opportunities for any number of provincial events as a “major” priority for the NBCA. “In these (tough economic) times, it’s a lot more difficult to get groups (to sponsor events). That’s the challenge. I really think my involvement with volunteering at fundraising events helped me (in getting) this job. Hopefully, it’ll help me when trying to attract sponsors.”

She’s also big on developing youth programs and the opportunity of school groups taking up the sport. “I think they’ve got programs in place now where kids are getting involved (introduced) to the sport in the gymnasium. We’d like to be able to help those kids move from the gymnasium to the rink.”

Maranda says over and above the administrative aspects of the job – i.e., registrations, scheduling, club communication, etc. – she’ll be on hand at the various provincial championships to help facilitate the winning teams going to nationals.

“There’s fitting the winners for N.B. jackets and documentation that needs to be done for the CCA (Canadian Curling Association) for the winning teams, so I’ll be there at the various championships to help out with that,” she says. “Other than that, there isn’t a lot of travelling involved.”

Eight-team provincial men’s curling champion James Grattan of Gage Club and two-time world and Olympic champion Russ Howard of Moncton are back together again. Or at least they were for last weekend’s Sobey’s Slam at the John Brother MacDonald Stadium in New Glasgow, N.S.

Eight men’s rinks including the Howard foursome including Grattan as the mate, son Steve Howard at second and lead Peter Case, were on hand vying for prize money of $10,000 at the event, with the winner getting $5000.

Howard and Co. advanced to the semifinal round before losing 7-3 to Nova Scotia’s Shawn Adams, who would later lose 4-2 in the final to fellow Nova Scotian Ian Fitzner-LeBlanc.

If truth be known, this was only a one-shot deal for Grattan, who has skipped provincial championship rinks in each of the past two seasons. Howard, who won a couple of N.B. titles with Grattan as his mate, was simply filling in for Charlie Sullivan Jr. of Saint John, who is the mate for the Grattan rink that also includes Steve Howard and Case this season. Sullivan is currently skipping the New Brunswick entry at the national mixed championships in Morris, Man.

Two Fredericton-area rinks skipped by defending two-time provincial champion Andrea Kelly and Melissa Adams participated in the women’s portion of the Sobey’s Slam. The women were the headliners, with 24 rinks including two-time defending national champion Jennifer Jones and Scottish champion Eve Muirhead vying for total prize money of $55,000. The event was part of the World Women’s tour.

The Kelly rink including mate Denise Nowland, second Jill Babin and lead Lianne Sobey, lost each of its three games by a single point in New Glasgow, 7-6 to Heather Strong of Newfoundland, 5-4 to Kirsten Wall of Ontario and 8-7 to Rachel Homan also of Ontario. The Adams rink including mate Sandy Comeau, second Stacey Leger and lead Sarah Berthelot, also lost three games including 10-2 to American Erika Brown, 6-3 to the Colleen Jones’s Nova Scotia rink that was skipped by Heather Smith-Dacey filling in for Jones and 9-1 to Shelley Nichols of Newfoundland.

Jennifer Jones won the $12,000 first place prize money defeating Chelsea Carey of Manitoba 7-3 in the final. Jones will be in Saint John for the first annual Wellington West Charity Festival involving four area curling clubs scheduled Nov. 26-28.

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