Darren Frycz (left to right)

Local foursome off to curling nationals

Curlers hope to spread the word, get more involved in the sport

Darren Frycz, Bill Nickerson, Steve Claxton and Don Monk may not be household names, but they are well known to competitors and fans of club level curling.

The quartet are based out of  the Langley Curling Club and comprise the Frycz rink, and as the current B.C. Travelers Curling Club Champions they are scheduled to jet off  to Halifax, N.S. to represent British Columbia in the 2014 Travelers Curling Club Championship.

It runs Nov. 24 to 29 at the Mayflower Curling Club.

With careers in construction, farming, trucking and the airline industry, they have had diverse life experiences, but a shared love of curling brought them together — five years ago — first as teammates, and now as good friends.

The four — clearly very comfortable with each other — constantly crack jokes and rib one another.

Bill Nickerson, the elder statesman of the team is a retired airline pilot and plays the lead position on the ice.

Nickerson was introduced to curling by his parents somewhat longer than five years ago while growing up in Halifax.

Today, he lives in Langley, is married to “a wonderful woman” and has two adult children. Nickerson curls two or three times a week, not counting taking part in the bonspiels or the time he spends volunteering to help young curlers.

Nickerson wanted to make it clear that contrary to recent club rumour, he is in no way related to Don Monk.

Frycz, the skip of the team calls the shots on the ice, but with the tell-tale chuckling coming from other members of the team that might be more in theory than practice. A curler for 35 years, since he was a child in Saskatchewan, his parents gave him the choice of playing curling or playing curling, he joked.

Frycz curls three or four times a week, not counting the time spent competing in weekend bonspiels. He plays on more than one team and as Claxton explained, Frycz’s multi-team role causes awkward situations when  teams Frycz plays on are scheduled to compete against one another, he is faced with having to potentially play for both sides in the same game. In his non-curling life, Frycz lives on a hobby farm in Aldergrove and works in construction.

He is married and has a son, who once curled, but has since betrayed his birthright by now being active in a sport that is not curling.

Monk, the second of the team has been curling for 25 years and in keeping with the majority of his teammates he was introduced to the sport by his parents.

When he is not busy working in the trucking industry or spending time with his two sons in Langley, Monk spends about 10 hours a week at the curling club.

The somewhat loud snorting to this claim by his fellow curlers suggests he might be slightly understating the true dedication he shows to the club. Like his fellow teammates Monk spends time volunteering for worthy causes.

Another attribute Monk shares with his team is a reluctance to say much about themselves.

With some hesitation, Monk did share in a passing comment he had donated one of his kidneys to his aunt.

Responding to a question he explained his aunt’s kidneys failed and their whole family was tested, but he was the only possible match.

When asked if deciding to donate a kidney had been a difficult decision, Monk appeared puzzled by being asked the question replied, “No, it was a very easy decision.”

Claxton, plays the third for the team and is its de facto spokesperson. He has been curling for 17 years and unlike his teammates his parents played no role in his getting involved in the sport.

Claxton became interested in curling by watching it on TV.

He says he curls around two or three times a week, but again that is not counting his taking part in weekend tournaments. Claxton and Monk once went to the same school in Aldergrove and played baseball together.

When not curling Steve spends time in Aldergrove with his wife, two sons and one stepson.

Claxton spends time volunteering and along with his teammates took part in a recent fundraiser for the charity Kimz Angels and the Canadian Paraplegic Association.

The curlers all say they have noticed a reduction over the years in the number of young players in the local area getting involved with curling. Frycz sees one of the big challenges being competing youth sports such as hockey and football where children envision those sports leading to a professional career and the corresponding huge pay cheques. He points out that curling is mostly an amateur sport and “only a very few earn a lot of money.”

The Canadian Curling Association estimates 57.45 per cent of Canadian curlers are age 25 or older.

Curling fans can follow the team’s progress at www.curlingclub.ca/travelerscurls/. The last two days of the championships will have a live video feed on the website.

To learn more about the Langley Curling Club, visit www.langleycurlingclub.com.

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