Geddie-ing things done
A two-time winner of the St. Catharines Sportsperson of the Year Award will be inducted tonight into the St. Catharines Sports Hall of Fame.
But the chair of the 2001 and 2007 Canadian junior curling championships and the vice-chair of the 2017 Scotties Tournament of Hearts is doing anything but resting on his laurels.
“My next goal is to bring the 2024 Grand Slam Tour Challenge here and that’s the top 16 teams in the world in men’s and women’s,” Doug Geddie said.
The four-day event would be held in October 2024.
“I am at the point in the process where I am begging the organizers to come in for a site visit at the new Walkers Canada Games complex because we need two ice surfaces.
That begging has paid off.
“We are doing a site visit in three weeks with the organizers of the Grand Slam tour.”
He is hoping for the best.
“I am trying not to be too optimistic but I think it would be terribly exciting. They not only bring in the top 16 men’s and women’s teams, they bring in the second best 16 men’s and women’s teams for a B event. They are not televised but they bring in teams from all over the world from countries which you never thought would have curling.”
He has struck a small committee and it has had preliminary meetings with the City of St. Catharines and the ASM group which runs the arenas.
Geddie is motivated by two factors.
“I really love the game and the rewards for the community and the sport are enormous. We make a little bit of money and we plow it back into the sport buying things such as equipment for wheelchair curlers,” he said. “It’s enjoyable and the other rationale for 2024 is it’s the 125 anniversary of this club and the club is looking to do a major golf event and a major curling event.”
Geddie, who was born in Hamilton but has been a resident of St. Catharines since 1970, started curling at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club in 1990. His involvement in the sport heightened when his daughter, Kate, tried to go into to a provincial junior curling event but her team couldn’t compete because it didn’t have a certified coach.
“I said, ‘This is stupid. I will get certified.’ I went through the Ontario curling certification program so they could enter the event. Along the way, I started to see teams from all Ontario descending on small towns and curling clubs and the competition was admirable. That led to us doing our first event.”
That event was the 2001 Canadian junior curling championships.
“There was bleachers on the outside sheets, CBC was here and it was just magic,” he said.
in 2007, the Canadian juniors were scheduled for Abbotsford, B.C., but the British Columbia organizers discovered the arena was doubled booked. With six months of lead time, Curling Canada asked St. Catharines to step in as hosts and once again Geddie served as the chair of the event.
“The nice thing about juniors is the enthusiasm of the kids plus you’re doing both men’s and women’s events. You have a significant number of athletes from every province and territory in Canada so it becomes a pretty extravagant affair.”
Next up was the Scotties Tournament of Hearts in 2017 with Geddie, Daniel Frans and Keith Shaver acting as vice chairs.
“The story on that was pretty simple. We never had an arena to hold an event of that stature so when the Meridian Centre was under construction Curling Canada was coincidentally holding their annual meetings in Niagara Falls. I contacted Warren Hansen who was the event guy at that time and I asked him to come over, see our arena and see what he thought. We did a site visit when it was still under construction and he said that it would be perfect. It was all the things they were looking for in a modern arena.”
Geddie enjoyed the event immensely.
“I have a lot of admiration for the women’s game. They play much more of a tapping, more rocks in play strategic game while the men play more of an aggressive knock em out type of game.”
The highlight of his organizing career revolves around a Canadian curling superstar.
“I went to New Brunswick in 2000 to see how a junior was run and the final game had Brad Gushue from Newfoundland and it came down to the final shot. I was on the ice taking pictures and he told his teammates ‘I am pretty hyped up and I don’t want to throw this too hard’ and he came up short and didn’t get it into the house. They lost and he cried and he cried and he cried. He was a 16-year-old.”
Redemption came for Gushue in St. Catharines.
“We hosted in 2001 and Gushue showed up older and wiser and 17 and he won the gold medal on television right here on Sheet C. I put a gold medal around his neck and that was the highlight for me. It was seeing the transformation and shock in the previous year compared with the victory in the second year.”
Geddie, a long-distance runner who competed in 15 marathons and 35 triathlons, is now semi-retired but his firm, Geddie Advertising, still works with clients such at Brock and Farm Fresh Ontario. He teaches a learn to curl program and is the chair of the curling committee at the St. Catharines Golf and Country Club.
Geddie is honoured to be inducted into the hall.
“I am a little embarrassed more than anything. I am not a champion curler. I am an organizer and a backrooms guy. I don’t particularly want to be honoured but I think it is great that there is recognition for the sport and the events that we’ve done in Niagara.”
He feels he is accepting the recognition on behalf of everyone who helped stage the events.
“We had 350 volunteers for the Scotties and they came from 38 different curling clubs. I think that’s great when you can bring people together like that.”