Growing up as a kid in Saskatchewan, I remem-ber many weekends during the winter spent in curling clubs.
My dad was an avid curler. He took up the game in high school and played for many years until he stopped when we moved to B.C. in 1988.
Last year, he was inducted into the Saskatchewan curling hall of fame. His school boy team was honoured for its pair of curling titles back in the 1960s.
These memories came to mind on Tuesday night at the Gibsons Curling Club.
I was invited by club president Bill Climie to attend as their guest for a special appearance by Guy Hemmings.
If you know anything about curling, you know who Hemmings is.
Hemmings won the hearts and minds of curling fans during the 1998 and 1999 Briers. He was in Gibsons to promote the game on his Rockin' the House curling tour.
Hemmings spent the late afternoon on the ice with 16 children from two elementary schools introducing the sport. He signed autographs, posed for pictures and engaged curling fans of all ages at the club.
After laying in an exhibition game with some of the club members, he was the keynote speaker at a dinner that evening.
In my job I have the opportunity to interview many people. I've had the privilege to meet and interview a few well-known athletes - Gibsons Ryan Dempster, Kirk McLean, former goaltender with the Vancouver Canucks, and now Hemmings.
Dempster and McLean are class acts. I can now add Hemmings to the list.
Hemmings is a likeable, fun guy. Anyone can appreciate him and relate to him.The club reserved a seat at the head table for Tuesday's dinner. I sat beside Hemmings, and throughout dinner, we spoke about curling and his tour, about the Sunshine Coast and our newspaper.
The conversation also turned to other sports. I found out about his love for baseball. When I told him about the many road trips I had taken with my dad, he thought it was really cool. He couldn't believe I loved the New York Yankees. And during his keynote speech, he poked fun at my last name.It's pronounced "Jakes" - but of course, being French, Hemmings quickly corrected that to the laughter of everyone (including me).
Hemmings represents everything that is good about sports.
You hear many negative things about athletes and how they treat fans and the media.
Hemmings made a point of mentioning that giving back to the fans is part of being an athlete. The curling fans make our sport - without them, where would we be, he pointed out.
After meeting Hemmings, I'd pose this question: where would the sport be without people like him?
Hemmings is a great ambassador for the sport of curling.
It was a pleasure to meet him and I hope he comes back to the Coast one day soon.