As you may imagine, selecting an individual for this award is always a difficult task. The strength of the Spirit of Curling is strong within clubs in the region. However, one person stood out among the nominees – someone who has promoted curling through their good deeds, actions and most of all, unwavering Spirit through the years.

Congratulations to Paul Coad – the Tim Irish Spirit of Curling Award recipient for the 2023-2024 curling year!

Always quick to greet everyone with a smile and welcome curlers to the rink, the Fremont rink seems like home away from home for Paul. Paul has tirelessly, and joyfully, served as the league commissioner for SVCC’s Sunday league since 2018. SVCC’s Sunday leagues have evolved into the club’s “developmental” draw and are often curlers’ first league experience. Sundays also tend to bring most of our junior curlers to the rink. To help curlers develop, he plans a drill to start every session. Whether it be balance, alignment, weight control, or sweeping, Paul finds ways to make the opening practice time useful for new and experienced curlers alike. He always has an encouraging word and knows how to strike the right balance between being helpful and being overwhelming with feedback for new curlers. He even produced a set of buttons marked “CM”, meaning “correct me”. Players wear a button to indicate that they are open to technical feedback and suggestions. If they take the button off, that’s the sign that they have enough to think about, and additional feedback from well-intentioned club mates should wait until the next time on the ice.

Arena conditions can be challenging on Sundays in Fremont. Paul is the first person to arrive each week to check for any major issues that the rink crew can fix and to get setup started. He has spent many late nights at the rink surveying and flooding to help improve conditions. But no matter how wonky the slopes of the ice, Paul strives to make his leagues the best experience for the curlers. He devises new rules that make the games interesting and work with the conditions that the club is presented with. Paul has made the variability in ice conditions part of the experience, and players have fun with it.

Because of weekend travel, attendance can be sporadic. Over the years, Paul has built up his own list of spares to call on. No matter how many players are absent, he always manages to recruit enough replacements to hold games. Sometimes his invitations are so well received that extra pickup games can be arranged. When Paul invites people to curl, people show up because they want to help him out.

Paul subscribes to the philosophy that “a bonspieling curler is often a curler for life.” Along with his daughter Kaitlin, he often assembles teams with brand new curlers and brings them into bonspieling culture. Of course, the rookies also get the chance for practice through repetition, accelerating the development from weekly practice and league play. Unsurprisingly, many of his teammates have become regular league players with SVCC.

Once someone has curled on Sundays in Fremont, they become one of “Paul’s curlers”. He keeps up with them even if they move away or life prevents them from returning to the ice. Paul lets them know that he and the rest of the club still think about them, despite not seeing them regularly. This includes reaching out and passing along support from clubmates to them in times of need. Keeping those relationships going exemplifies the Spirit of Curling as much as any of Paul’s other contributions.

For his dedication to developing curlers, bringing them into our community, and genuine care for his fellow clubmates, Paul is a deserving recipient of the Tim Irish Spirit of Curling Award. Thank you Paul for all you do!

An honorable mention also goes to Owen McLachlan for his dedication to keep people enthusiastic about curling and helping to keep a small club going. Owen is very calm and mild mannered, often letting others have the spotlight, but Curl San Diego may not still exist if it had not been for his behind the scenes work, acting as a stabilizing force throughout the years, especially during the pandemic challenges.

Owen has been involved with Curl San Diego since the beginning (2006) and spent years as a board member. Throughout his tenure, he has taught countless Learn to Curl sessions, fielded thousands of emails, represented San Diego at numerous bonspiels nationwide and remains the keeper of historical knowledge related to Curl San Diego. Thank you, Owen, for your continuing efforts and dedication to the sport and to your club!

The Tim Irish Award Selection Committee wishes to thank everyone who submitted nominations for their favorite curlers. The love for each nominee was evident in your submissions. The field demonstrates the depth of Spirit within each club and with the region.

Good curling!

A note about the award:

The Tim Irish Award is given annually. In the past it was awarded along with the International Tankard recognition in the January timeframe, but it is now a separate recognition awarded later in the curling year. The award is given for the one who have shown their Spirit during the last year.

Unlike the International Tankard nominations where clubs are invited to nominate volunteers who help their clubs, any individual who is a member of a MoPac club can nominate another individual who is a member of any MoPac club for the Tim Irish Award. Those who demonstrate the Spirit of Curling are eligible for nomination. The selected honorees shall receive an engraved award in June along with regional recognition for their efforts.