The varsity boys curling team is on a victorious streak and they plan on bringing it to OFSAA.

MGCI’s first curling team was created in the 2009-2010 school year  by Yang Chen, a former student who graduated in 2013. Although the team has had some successes since that time, they have never reached as far as the current team which is now advancing to the city championships.

Currently, the five-member team consists of Derek Leung, Wesley Cassidy, Maxwell Chan, Ryan Lin, and Will Randall. Of these five, Derek, Wesley, Ryan, and Will are active in curling outside of school. Together, they have won seven consecutive games. In light of their recent success, we conducted several interviews to put together the team’s narrative.

Derek is the skip of the team and highly experienced. We asked Derek about the team’s roots and developments. “I started team development in Grade 10 (2012) with the introduction of Youth Learn to Curl sessions at Leaside Curling Club. This year, Maxwell and I started a curling club at MGCI to teach the off-ice aspects of curling. The boys team was very strong this year: we practiced significantly more this year than in past years; this was the first year we played in a separate school curling tournament (Gore Mutual Schoolboy) and were just short of making the provincial championship for that tournament. This was our first year placing first in the TDSB East division (we will be playing this Friday to qualify for OFSAA). What is equally great is that three of the five members of this year’s team still have two or more years left. My dream has been to develop the curling program at MGCI to be larger and even more dedicated. The Learn to Curl sessions (there’s one coming up in March Break) and the MGCI Curling Club are just the first steps, and I leave knowing that MGCI Curling’s future is in good hands with Ryan, Will, Wesley, and of course, our devoted coach Ms. Wiltenburg. Maybe curling could even be a Winterfest activity next year…?”

Ms. Wiltenburg is the coach for the team this year. In the past, Ms. Roberge has also been involved, and during the previous two years, Ms. Green from the art department was the curling coach. At the end of last year, Ms. Green had been coaching curling for nine years. We approached her for her knowledge of the team’s history. “In 2012, the teacher strike steered a lot of kids away from curling. Derek really stirred the pot, he got people excited about getting Garneau back on track and so I said okay, I’ll coach.  Ms. Wiltenburg, who was coaching volleyball that year, helped too, and we got some practise time at the Leaside Curling Club. We had four teams that year, so we had a big response. There were too many players and not enough time to train them. They all had fun, but we didn’t go anywhere because they were too new to the game. Then last year, Derek and I decided to just have two good teams, a mixed and a boys team. With the boys team, there were two new players and they were really good, ambitious, and stuck with the team. Through Derek’s coaching ability and the extra time I provided after school at Leaside, the guys got really good. But they were TOPS students and they had a heavy schedule and they missed the last game because they were on their trip to Pine Crest. Because they missed that game they missed the draw for getting into the finals. This year, the same team, more improved, and under Ms. Wiltenburg’s guidance, has excelled.”

She also noted the importance of the out-of-school tournament the team participated in this year. “This year, Ms. Wiltenburg took them to the Gore, and it was the best thing the team could have done. Every time you play against better teams, you’re bringing yourself up to that next level.”

On the morning of 27 February, the team is set to play against Humberside Collegiate Institute, in which another victory will place the team in the gold medal match for a shot at OFSAA. From there, they will play against either Richview Collegiate Institute or Birchmount Collegiate Institute. The team is required to score in the top two teams in the Toronto District School Board to qualify for OFSAA.

With regards to the team’s success and synergy as a whole, Ms. Wiltenburg said, “I’m really proud of how hard the team has worked to make it this far, and how we have come together as a team.  Each team member has given his best, I have thoroughly enjoyed coaching such dedicated athletes in one of my favourite sports.”

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