New curling club manager helps sweep in changes

As the Fort St. John Curling Club finalizes its return-to-play plans for the upcoming season, one new member is already hard at work.

Emily Furlot is the club's new general manager of business development, hired to essentially sell the use of the building, and bring in revenue and activity to the club.  Furlot will be focused entirely on events, promotion and marketing, while Jeff Holland will take over the curling side of things, in addition to continuing to make and tend to the ice. 

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"I'm trying to utilize the space more. Our curling pad has capacity for 600 people and is competely unused for six months of the year. We could be using it for barn dances, for holding events year-round and bringing money into the club," said Furlot. 

The club has had finiancial issues in the past, which came to a head this summer. While the club's board and membership remains committed to making operations viable, it can't continue to sustain itself on curling revenue alone. 

"There are a core group of curlers who are always going to curl. But we can focus on other things — curling might not make us the money to keep the building open, but we can do other things to keep curling going strong," Furlot said. 

The club's board of directors is excited for what Furlot brings to the table.

"She's really excited and gung-ho. We had to change our model somehow and we're excited for the things she has planned," said president Connie Richter.

Furlot has been on the job for two weeks, and has already hosted a trivia night on July 25, where 23 people attended out of a possible 50. It wasn't the number she was hoping for, but she's encouraged by the interest as the event was only promoted for four days. 

Furlot has high expectations for what can be done with the building, and wants to make things like family events, barn-style dances, and open-mic events a regular feature. 

"There is so much demand for family events here and there are lots of young families, and we have the space for it," Furlot said. "I'm constantly asking people in the community what kinds of things they want to see in Fort St. John and there is interest in these kind of events."

Originally from Kelowna, Furlot moved to Fort St. John last year and is making the switch from construction to marketing and event planning.

"I want my job to be doing what I can to make people happy. I enjoy seeing them dancing and smiling," she said. 

Still, Furlot said many challenges exist due to the pandemic.

"It's hard to start, trying to plan socially-distanced things, but we certainly have the space to keep people separated," Furlot said. "We will start with little events to get the community interested and coming out, and work towards bigger ones."

Fulfilling her vision won't be easy and will take a lot of hard work, but Furlot is up for the challenge. The club has been searching for a plan forward for quite some time, and it's good to see that plan come into focus.

Email sports reporter Dillon Giancola at sports@ahnfsj.ca

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