Never too old to learn something new

Kylie MacHattie
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Celtic Connection column

The past month has seen James and I take up a new sport. We’ve taken up the game of curling. Each week, along with our drumming instructor, Chris Coleman, and his girlfriend, we play at the Silver Fox Curling Club in a fun league.

Highland Gathering organizers and instructors, from left, Kearsney Smith, Ryan MacNeil of the Barra MacNeils, Karen Hatcher, Chris Coleman, James MacHattie and Kylie MacHattie stand outside the College of Piping. The Highland Gathering runs June 22-24 on the College of Piping grounds.

Admittedly we’re not very good, and as we discovered this past week, the more we get to know about the sport, the more we realize how awful we are at it. We’re having a blast and that’s all that matters to us.

The other teams have been really good with us. They’ve given us pointers, helped with our technique (I now know how to hold the broom properly while throwing my rock), given advice to our skip about where our rocks should go (emphasis on should, but never really end up where they’re supposed to) and have even helped us sweep while our rocks limp down the ice.

We’re not really sure what our positions are. I usually throw second because it seems like I can’t mess up too much in the house if my rocks don’t co-operate. Never mind struggling to get the slider on over my shoe.

One thing that I have learned for certain:  curling is really hard. It’s a game of skill, strategy and luck.

One thing that hit a note with me this week is that a very kind gentleman pointed out that they had all started out where we are. At one point their rocks didn’t end up where they wanted them to and they wobbled on their feet with the slider on as well (or I hope I’m not the only one who has fallen on my butt while wearing one of those).

I started to think about learning something new as an adult.

I’ve taught at summer schools where the students have been predominately adults. The biggest complaint I’ve heard from them is the frustration of knowing what they’re supposed to do with the instrument but just not being able to do it. They would marvel at the young kids picking it up so fast but perhaps not knowing the more intricate details that the adults understood but couldn’t do.

Having started at a very young age, I could understand where they were coming from but I had never experienced the same sort of frustration – until now.

I know exactly what I’m supposed to do but getting the co-ordination of aiming, throwing and staying on my feet is harder than I ever realized. Even the act of sweeping continues to confound me. I’m not always sure how hard, fast or when to do it. I still hope there will be a time when I finally figure out the weight to throw my rocks so that they don’t sail right on through the house or stall halfway down the ice.

We all have to start somewhere as the kind gentleman pointed out. There will be a time when the other team won’t feel sorry for us and put their rocks around ours or start purposely missing their shots so they don’t run up the score.

Until then I will keep my head down and hurry hard. It’s not all bad: you never really lose when the winners have to buy the losers a post-game beer.



Kylie MacHattie is a bagpipe instructor at the College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada in Summerside.




Organizations: College of Piping and Celtic Performing Arts of Canada

Geographic location: Summerside

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