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Desmond Young

Meet Desmond Young: Young Banff Curler Going the Distance

Desmond Young

Like many young people in the Bow Valley, seventeen-year-old Desmond Young has a passion for sport.  But, it might come as a surprise that his favourite isn’t skiing, climbing or mountain biking – it’s curling.

“I really connected with it from the start. It’s a precision sport, and it’s all about balancing a number of factors and using a lot of mental focus. I enjoy that as it’s more about finesse than brute strength,” he says.

Desmond hit the ice for his first game at age 10, shortly after Banff’s curling rink re-opened at the Fenland’s Arena in 2010.

“I remember watching a lot of curling on TV with my dad. He played in junior teams when he was younger, and he’s been curling on and off since then. When I started, I had only seen curling on TV, so I didn’t realise that it’s a lot harder than it looks! But I loved the game and I kept going out to play.”

Desmond’s dad, Steve Young, recognized his son’s passion for the sport from the beginning. Seeing the need for more opportunities for youth people in Banff to enjoy the sport, Steve launched the first junior team at the Banff Curling Club in 2012. Here, Desmond continues to develop his skills in 2017.

Throughout the winter, he plays on a team of junior curlers in a Monday night league in Banff, and then with a competitive curling team based out of Airdrie – where he practices every Tuesday, competing in the Alberta Junior Curling Tour every other weekend. Desmond will also curl on Wednesday evenings, playing in a Men’s league in Calgary.  Year-round, he works to an aerobic fitness and strength training program to stay at the top of his game.

But living outside a large city means that pursuing the sport competitively has had its challenges.

Across Alberta, most curling events are held closer to urban centres, requiring a commitment of extensive regular travel to compete, and Desmond must also regularly drive himself to Airdrie to practise with his team. In Banff, most of his peers dedicate their recreation time to other winter sports, so team recruitment and retention are an ongoing challenge.

“A lot of my friends are bikers and cross country skiers, so their training involves very regular, vigorous physical activity. There aren’t many curlers here in Banff, and it’s not as physically demanding as other sports – so my friends bug me about it all the time. Then we go curling in gym class, and I get the last laugh,” Desmond says good-naturedly.

But when there’s a will, there’s a way, and he is happy to go the distance for his curling commute, and to laugh off the little jokes from his peers.

Desmond Young
Desmond Young

Banff Lodging Co. is also happy to help out through the company’s Pauw Foundation, supporting Desmond for his costs incurred for travelling to training and competitions around Alberta [Desmond is one of the Foundation’s 2017-18 Youth Sport Fund Athlete Squad Members; recognized for sporting commitments and ability, and consequently being awarded a sponsorship to assist with the costs of training and competing within their sport].

“I’m really grateful for the Pauw Foundation’s generous support – it’s an amazing opportunity. It means a lot to have such great people in the community who are willing to support not only myself, but anyone competing in competitive junior sport.”

Desmond explains that in each curling match, there are four players, each with a different position: lead, second, third, and skip. The first three ‘throw’ the shots, and when they’re not throwing they’re ‘sweeping’ the ice to help the ‘rock’ keep its momentum toward the target. Desmond’s position is ‘skip’, and it’s a little different.

“The skip is down at the other end of the rink telling the team which shots to play, holding the broom, showing them the target, and sort of masterminding the whole strategy. There’s a little bit of pressure on the skip, but it’s definitely a team game,” Desmond says.

“I love the tactical side of it – thinking about the shots, the angles, how the whole game will unfold. A game takes about two hours, which is a while – but when you’re having fun, time goes by really quickly!”

“I love the tactical side of it – thinking about the shots, the angles, how the whole game will unfold. A game takes about two hours, which is a while – but when you’re having fun, time goes by really quickly!”

So what would Desmond say to anyone interested in trying out curling, or coming back to the sport?

“It’s good idea to develop a base of skill. There’s no need to drive into Calgary if you don’t need to – there’s a curling club here and you can get a base level of skill here. Then you need to decide whether you want to play for fun, which you can do here in Banff, but if you want to play competitively, then you need go to the city. It’s a commitment, but if you enjoy the sport then it’s definitely worth it.”

Desmond Young

The Banff Curling Club hosts a weekly Learn 2 Curl Drop-In session every winter. For more information about Drop-In sessions, as well as the Leagues and Junior Club, visit banffcurlingclub.ca

To find out more about how the Pauw Foundation supports the active, vibrant and happy community in the Bow Valley, visit www.pauwfoundation.com

Photography provided by: Annette Young Photography

Wim & Nancy Pauw Foundation Logo

"Supporting a more active, vibrant, happy community of Banff"