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Getting Into It

By Richard Gonyeau
Monday, December 20, 2010

So, you heard about curling from a friend. You watched it on television. You read a newspaper article about it, and now you’re ready to give it a try. What’s the next step? Where do you begin?

No matter where you live, chances are your introduction to curling will follow a likely course. You’ll Google search the nearest curling club, then make a phone call. I’ve been at my club numerous times and answered the phone to find an inquisitive, prospective member on the other end.

“Can anyone come to watch?” Or “Are you accepting new members?“ Or “Do you offer lessons?”

The answer is yes to all three.

It’s rare that the general public comes to watch an event at our club, but it does happen. Most of the time, spectators are made up of fellow curlers, friends and family. It’s true, we’re a tightly knit community. But we are always accepting new members. As long as it’s during curling season, (roughly October-March) you’ll be able to find someone at the club willing to chat with you about the sport. You might even be able to get out there and throw a few rocks yourself.

However, it wasn’t always this easy.

Veteran members at the club often speak of how challenging it once was to get into curling. How it wasn’t easily accessible to the public. How the older members made it difficult for new members to learn or advance. This concept seems completely foreign to me, because ever since I started curling, people have gone out of their way to promote the sport and help me learn.

These days, there are plenty of avenues for the new curler to take. Things like ‘curling schools’ are becoming more popular each season at various clubs. What is curling school you ask? At the Schenectady Club, it’s a 2-session curling intensive program designed to familiarize new curlers with the sport. From on-ice fundamentals to off-ice strategy sessions, curling school covers just about everything.

Fellow writer (and new curler) Melissa Frenyea just “graduated” from curling school at the Schenectady Club. Her article on the subject is a good one, and pretty much says it all. Check it out HERE.

Curling clubs around the nation differ in size, and are measured by the number of ice sheets they have. Clubs will commonly have 2, 4, 6, or 8 sheets of ice. Having more ice sheets means a club can sustain more members, and host bigger tournaments.

If you live locally, you really only have two curling clubs to choose from: Schenectady Curling Club, a 4-sheet club on Balltown Rd. in Niskayuna, and Albany Curling Club, a 2-sheet club on McKown Road in Albany.

Determining which club is right for you is not just a question of location. Many Albany residents curl at our club in Schenectady. Some curlers even have memberships at both clubs. Each club offers a unique experience, so you’ll have to visit them/inquire within to decide. The next closest club is Utica Curling Club. They have a large, 6-sheet facility, and host many events throughout the season. But unless you feel like traveling an hour and a half each night to curl, I’d recommend joining a local club.

If you’re not quite ready to give it a shot, but would like some questions answered, you can always email me here at the Gazette.

Richard Gonyeau lives in Rotterdam and is a member of the Schenectady Curling Club.

 
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