Experiential Learning at the World Women’s Curling Championship

From left to right: Simon Barrick, José Maria Ribeiro da Cunha, Alliyah Rowe, Hayden Desrosiers.

From March 16-24, 2024, Sydney, Nova Scotia, was thrilled to host the World Women’s Curling Championship at Centre 200. What was said to be a once in a lifetime opportunity, the event concluded with Team Canada taking home gold. However, Team Canada wasn’t the only ones to take something from the tournament, as CBU students enrolled in Sport and Physical Activity Leadership (SPAL) 4108  took part in an experiential learning project conducting program evaluations of the various outreach initiatives surrounding the major sporting event. 

The students in SPAL 4108 worked with Curling Canada, Rock Solid Productions, CBU Recreation and the Sydney Curling Club on the project and were responsible for designing the program evaluation methods themselves. This included participant surveys, program observations and interviews with program organizers. They collected data both before and during the tournament, analyzed the data following the tournament and are keen to soon share their key findings with the program organizers through a presentation. 

This project presented a great hands-on opportunity for CBU students to practice the skills they are learning in the classroom. Simon Barrick, Assistant Professor in the Department of Experiential Studies in Community and Sport, has been speaking with decision-makers locally, nationally and internationally about the project. He shares that they are eagerly awaiting the students’ final report so they can learn how to make curling outreach initiatives better in the future.

Having facilitated the project, Simon Barrick felt a real sense of joy and pride through combining his love of curling, experiential learning and community-engaged research. “The students rose to the challenge throughout this project and I’m confident they have learned a great deal about program evaluation in sport and recreation,” says Simon. “Plus, they made real contributions to understanding how curling events can help introduce university students to the sport, while Curling Canada and World Curling are ready to apply these lessons in future events.”

One student involved in the project, Kuvy Moodley, felt that this project not only allowed him to experience a new sport for the first time, but helped bring the true Canadian experience full circle as he had never covered a snow/ice activity before. “As someone who loves sport, being able to attend the opening game and experience the atmosphere at the World Curling Championships was a great introduction to the sport of curling,” he says. “By participating in this project, I will definitely be looking to try curling when the new season starts in September.”

Though the event is now behind us, hosting the World Women’s Curling Championship right here in Sydney has created memories that will last a lifetime.  With a Canadian team taking home gold, thousands in attendance from around the world and students involved in a community-driven project, it doesn’t get much more Canadian than that.