"It's the one chance that women truly get to watch men use a broom!" says Steve Cook. Well, maybe the 25th chance, as the Hagey Bonspiel prepares to celebrate 25 years as a Waterloo tradition with the 1994 event, set for January 15. I spoke with three very enthusiastic organizers of this year's bonspiel, and I have never met anyone who was as thrilled or eager about the game of curling as these three individuals. Steve, along with Leanne O'Donnell, Frank Esch and two retired University of Waterloo (UW) staff members, Frank Burgess and Bill Aitken, are organizing a very special 25th anniversary bonspiel this year. That makes it not just a tradition, but a tradition!
The Hagey Bonspiel began in 1969, when Don Hudspeth and Ken Croft, both from plant operations, decided that "it would be a good idea if the University of Waterloo had a bonspiel." They envisioned some good, healthy competition, mixed with some fun between faculty and staff. And what better competition than curling? So Don and Ken received permission from Gerry Hagey, who was just ending his term as UW's president, to use his name for the event, and they found the funds for a trophy, which is now displayed at the University Club. It's been history ever since. The bonspiel "known as the Funspiel, right from the start", was held at the Glenbriar Curling Club during the first year. Now, a lot of us students and young folk know the Glenbriar Club only as the Home Hardware store on Weber Street, beside Canadian Tire. Actually, many of us weren't even born in 1969. After the first year, the event moved to the Ayr Curling Club, where it has been held ever since. Don Hudspeth organized the event for the first 18 years and has participated in the event every year since its conception. Now retired, Don still joins in the fun, but this year he will be lending his expertise, acquired through 25 years of the event's existence, to help organize and celebrate the bonspiel's Silver Anniversary.
Organization of the bonspiel is strictly from volunteer UW staff. Up to the time of his death, Hagey had actively participated in the bonspiel, coming out to dinner, watching the curlers and presenting the trophy at the end of the day. Funding and prizes are solicited from suppliers, contractors and retail outlets on and off campus. The volunteer committee begins organizing by about mid-October. Flyers and announcements are sent to each department by early December. Dave Bartholomew of graphic services even won an award one year for his creative poster advertising the bonspiel. "Numerous people have been a part of the committee since Don handed over the reins," states Frank Esch, who has been in the organizing committee for the past several years. The format of the event has not changed much over the quarter-century, but this year, the event will consist of two eight-end games rather than three six-end games, because of time constraints.
The pitch: Just come out for the fun of it! The event is limited to 64 participants because of the number of ice lanes available. The day also includes lunch and dinner which "traditionally has been chicken and roast beef served buffet style, and is a fantastic meal", I was told. This is an all-day event where you will get a chance to curl, play cards, consume libations, and catch up on the latest developments of Einstein's law of relativity. The event is not limited to just faculty and staff, and veteran participants promise they won't criticize those who cannot curl. "Students have come out in the past and have really enjoyed themselves." There will be prizes given to everyone who participates, as well as the trophy for the victors. The prizes this year range from gift certificates of $50 for the Pinery, to a one-pound package of bacon given again this year as the traditional "Pink Piggy" prize.
The cost is $33 for the whole day (including curling, lunch and dinner). Entry forms can be picked up by contacting any one of the committee organizers: Frank Esch, ext. 6722; Leanne O'Donnell, ext. 5134; or Steve Cook, ext. 2027. The official deadline for entries is January 10, but you must enter early to guarantee your spot in the bonspiel. Late entries are frequently welcome, though, because there are always people who have to cancel.