The new executive director of the Northern Ontario Curling Association wants to grow the sport and attract younger people to curling.
Olympic silver medallist Mike Harris takes over as the association’s executive director on Sept. 1, 2022.
Harris, who has worked as a curling broadcaster for CBC Sports since retiring from competitive play, said he wants to help rebuild a sport that lost members and active participants due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
He said his own curling club in Toronto, for example, lost around 20 per cent of its members during the pandemic.
“Most small communities have a curling club and, you know, back 25, 30 years ago this was always kind of the hub of the community,” he said.
“We’re looking to try to reintroduce the sport to some people in those small communities that may have forgotten what the game is all about.”
Working with Curling Canada, Harris said one of his priorities will be to counter the perception that curling is an old person’s game.
Harris said he will continue to live in Toronto after he takes over the role, but added that should not be a problem.
“My plan is to have fairly regular contact with all of the clubs. There’s 40 clubs up in the northern region,” he said.
Harris added that Zoom meetings make it much easier to keep in contact with people from different cities and regions.
My first goal is just to provide some stability to the member clubs making sure that there’s a constant voice there that they can rely on for support and feedback,” he added.
Northern Ontario Curling Association board president Hayley Smith said in a press release that the board is excited to have Harris join the team.
“His dedication to curling is well known and the Board is eager to work with him to grow our sport in northern Ontario,” Smith said.
Morning North7:26Mike Harris to lead Northern Ontario Curling Association—from Toronto