By: Bryan Dutot
It’s maybe not goodbye, perhaps more a see-you-soon, as the University of Windsor Lancers curling team has been put on “pause” – at least that’s how Athletic Director Mike Havey puts it.
The Lancer curling team will not be suiting up for competition this season. Last year, the team ended with a 1-6 record in the Ontario Universities Athletics (OUA) Championships.
“It is not about winning or losing but being competitive,” Havey said. “Unfortunately, based on our circumstances, we [the Athletic and Recreation staff] thought it was best to just withdraw the team for this year.”
The circumstances to which Havey refers boils down to a new incoming university president and how that person allocates budget and resources, plus the lack of team success and the loss of the head coach.
The former head coach, Mark Masanovich, also the former director of curling at the Roseland Curling Club in Windsor, resigned from his post earlier this year. He cited his new job with the Town of LaSalle and wanting to have more family time as his reasons. For his part, Masanovich wanted the team to survive and was active in trying to find someone to fill his shoes.
“I let them [University of Windsor Athletics] know that I would be stepping down, after nearly 15 years, as soon as possible,” Masanovich stated. “I tried to help find a new coach for the athletes but it is hard to find individuals who curl in the Windsor region, let alone a coach for a varsity-level team.”
Masanovich also added he was not necessarily “done with Lancer curling” and that a return to coaching could be possible somewhere down the road.
But for now, that means returning curlers from last year’s team, plus any new recruits, are without a team to play on. Katie Bolt, former skip of the team, trained hard for the upcoming season and was excited to play. Now she’s left disappointed by the outcome.
“I feel upset that the team was suspended this year, mostly because of the new Lancer curlers that had been getting in contact with me over the summer about the curling program,” Bolt explains. “It’s unfortunate that they didn’t get the opportunity to try out for the team. I know that when I decided to come to the University of Windsor I took into consideration the fact that we had a curling team.”
Bianca Sfalcin, a current graduate student in the Faculty of Human Kinetics, had high hopes of cracking the curling lineup this year but now she’s left out in the cold while the future of the program is unknown.
“I am very new to the sport and disappointed I never even got the chance to try out or have the opportunity to develop my skills,” Sfalcin said. “After playing in a tournament with some of the athletes last year it was such a great time. I was looking forward to this year’s tryouts.”
Dylan Polfliet, last year’s MVP on the men’s team, is concerned about a lost connection to the city. The Lancer team practised at the Roseland Golf and Curling Club and represented the school within the Windsor community.
“It’s my belief that the true loss for these athletes is not the single week of OUA competition,” Polfliet explained. “But the opportunity to meet and curl alongside many prominent figures in the Windsor/Essex community.”
The final end of Lancer curling might not have been played, however, Alexandra Turner, the lead for the team, believes they have what they need to continue.
“We had all the resources available to keep the program going this year even after Mark resigned,” Turner said. “Unfortunately, we were not given the opportunity to start the season and see how the new team structure would have worked out.”
The women’s team did everything they possibly could to keep the team alive. The team contacted both curling clubs in Windsor and both were willing to help out by allowing access to their facilities. In the end, it wasn’t enough.
“Despite everything we did we were still not able to play this year so I hope next year the team can get started again but we have to wait and see,” Bolt said.
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