In my previous entry, I mentioned how quickly I became addicted to curling after visiting an open house at the Schenectady Curling Club. Each year, (especially an Olympic year) I continue to see more and more people dive head-first into this game, just as I did four and a half years ago.
So what is it that makes curling so appealing?
The initial appeal is obvious: Curling is a fun social sport with plenty of options for the new member. People from all walks of life play this game. As a curler, you’re constantly meeting new people, traveling from state to state to compete and experience something new. When I started in 2006, I was single. I would love spending late nights at the club, enjoying a few (perhaps a few too many) pints of Guinness from the bar, sharing stories with friends and just generally having a good time. We’d form a team and travel to another state to compete against other, like-minded folks. We’d eat and drink and curl. I was drawn to the festive, jovial nature of the sport. That was my perspective then.
It’s now 2010. I’m happily married, and I’m curling more than ever. My wife doesn’t curl, but there are plenty of couples that do. Some teams purposely pair husbands with wives. Other couples absolutely refuse to curl together at all, for reasons you can probably figure out on your own. But the point is, as a curler, you have the choice to participate however you like. Single/married, old/young, male/female... it really doesn’t matter which one describes you. You’ll easily find a niche in the curling world.
Personally, my niche has changed over the years. Things went from that social/ fun experience I mentioned to a more focused/competitive one. This transformation didn’t happen overnight. It took a year or two before I began to take curling more seriously.
After some initial success in various curling leagues and local events, some friends and I decided to form a more competitive team. Our goal: get to the highest level of curling possible. Maybe even someday represent America as the United States Olympic curling team. All right, I’ll admit that goal is a bit lofty. We’re still relatively new to the sport. That being said, we’ve made incredible progress in recent years. Personally, I went from hardly being able to stay upright on the ice in 2006, to earning a spot at Club Nationals in 2010. That kind of progress only adds more fuel to the fire. These days I take practice seriously. I follow a weight training regimen. I play to win. I’m drawn to the competitive nature of the sport. This is my perspective now.
Whatever goals you’d like to achieve for yourself, chances are curling can provide the environment to do so. If you want to compete seriously and try to advance through the many levels of curling, you can do that. If you want to play the game as a fun social sport to meet new people and have a good time, you can do that too.
Ready to give it a try? In my next entry, I’ll talk about how you can try out curling first hand, and maybe even join your local club.
Richard Gonyeau, who lives in Rotterdam, is a member of the Schenectady Curling Club.