By Erika Mathieu
Sunny South News
Former Picture Butte High School student, Hailey Spanke is this year’s recipient of the ATB Financial Canadian Masters Scholarship.
The scholarship, established in 2014, is presented each year to a curler and first-year post-secondary student from the southern Alberta region attending an accredited post-secondary program. In 2014, Coaldale hosted the Canadian Master’s Tournament. At the time, ATB Financial, donated $10,000 to the creation of a scholarship to support curlers attending post-secondary in their first year.
The $1,000 scholarship was presented at the Coaldale Curling Club on Oct. 11 to Spanke.
Spanke is currently studying in the Pre-vet program at Red Deer College and plans to transfer to the University of Calgary to finish her studies to become a veterinarian, where she hopes to specialize in large-animal care.
Spanke became acquainted with the sport early in her life. “I started curling when I was seven, just learning to throw rocks at the local curling club, the Carmangay Curling Club,” she said.
While attending high school in Picture Butte, Spanke was able to take advantage of playing as part of the physical education curriculum.
“They offer curling as an activity during Phys. ed. and they also offered it as an extracurricular activity for a curling team, there can be a mixed team, a boy’s team and a girl’s team,” she explained.
Like anything, there is a high degree of technical skill required to play at a high level, but Spanke said part of the appeal for many people is its accessibility.
“It a sport that anyone can learn and play; (it) brings people to the community to see other attractions,” which is particularly the case for larger tournaments, which attract tourism to the region.
Although Spanke’s studies will keep her busy in the coming years, she said she plans to continue to find ways to show her love for the sport.
“I will continue to curl recreationally, in small-town bonspiels with my family and friends.”
In terms of economic impact, the 2014 Canadian Masters tournament hosted 26 teams and brought plenty of business to the town, and reportedly around 250 people attended each draw.
Since the scholarship is given to a first-year student, next year’s application deadline is not until August 2023. Interested applicants may reach out to their local curling clubs and organizations for more information on how to apply, and exact eligibility requirements.
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