Sarnia was an obvious choice in which to set up shop and form competitive curling teams, say elite curlers Steph and Ryan LeDrew.
“Curlers chase the ice just like golfers chase the dream course. And you can’t touch Sarnia’s, it’s just about as good as it gets,” said Ryan LeDrew.
His sister Steph arrived eight years ago and convinced Ryan and his wife Christine to move here as well, with the promise of affordable living and a top-notch curling rink.
Sarnia has proven a good place to start LeDrew Curling, the brainchild of Steph and Ryan, who skip their respective women and men’s squads.
Their goal is to create teams using great players, gain sponsors, and attend multiple tournaments.
The siblings learned the sport from their mom, Diane Roberts, a matriarch of the Newfoundland curling scene.
As an 18-time provincial champion, Roberts raised Steph and Ryan in an atmosphere of competitive curling.
“Mom’s our biggest cheerleader,” said Steph LeDrew.
“She’s been involved in our curling careers always, from the beginning.”
Brother Ryan said he doesn’t remember his experience on the rink.
“It’s always just been a part of life more than anything else,” he said.
Both are elite curlers. Steph LeDrew’s team was second at the 2002 Canadian Juniors, and she was a member of the squad that won the 2010 Newfoundland and Labrador Provincial Championships.
Steph also earned a spot as an on-air commentator on TSN curling broadcasts.
Ryan LeDrew followed suite, making appearances at the Junior National Championships, University Championships, the Brier and the Canada Games, where he earned a bronze medal.
With that experience and pedigree LeDrew Curling is building their team in Sarnia.
According to Steph LeDrew, it’s a popular trend to build a curling team with the best players, regardless of where they live in Canada. But that dramatically limits the opportunity to practice.
“When it comes to curling practice and technical abilities, it’s almost 70% to 80% of what it takes,” Ryan LeDrew said.
“If we could have everyone living in the same city then we can practice at the same times … and be on the same page.”
Team LeDrew players on both the men and women’s sides all either live in Sarnia or Southwestern Ontario.
On Oct. 27, they will compete at the
Huron Reprographics Oil Heritage Classic, at the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club.
Twenty-two teams will compete for a purse of $22,000.
A world-class event, with world-class ice, this tournament could showcase the world-class facility and talent that Sarnia has to offer the curling world.
IF YOU GO
WHAT: 2016 Huron Reprographics Oil Heritage Classic Curling Tournament
WHERE: Sarnia Golf and Curling Club, 500 Errol Road West
WHEN: OCT. 27 to 30, **Tournament schedule TBA**
TICKETS: Free to watch. Food and beverages available on site.