One of my favorite aspects of blogging is finding the hidden or overlooked gems of Fort Wayne. The Fort Wayne Curling Club is one of them. The club, founded in 2010, recently purchased and renovated a facility in a strip center off Wells Street. Although rather unassuming(there is minimal signage), I assure you there is a lot going on inside. The facility includes locker rooms, a social area (with a few taps) and a large ice rink, where most of the action happens.
Ruthie, a board member and curler herself, was nice enough to show me around. She told me the recent Winter Olympic Games piqued the public's interest in the sport. The club decided to take advantage of the attention by hosting "learn to curl sessions." As many as 400 people came out to give the sport a try. As for the sport itself, it's fairly simple, but yet requires patience and skill.
Players slide stones on a sheet of ice towards a target area which is segmented into four concentric rings. Two teams, each of four players, take turns sliding heavy, polished granite stones, also called rocks, across the ice curling sheet towards the house, a circular target marked on the ice. Each team has eight stones. The purpose is to accumulate the highest score for a game. Points are scored for the stones resting closest to the center of the house at the conclusion of each end, which is completed when both teams have thrown all of their stones. A game may consist of ten or eight ends. Win or lose, both teams unite for a brew or two. Ruthie shared an interesting tidbit with me: The winning team buys the defeated team a round of drinks. (That explains the taps.) The sport really is rooted in goodwill. I found this to be true when I observed a team of medical residents playing an intramural game. They really seemed to be having a good time out there. According to Ruthie, this sport is for all ages and abilities. The sport is just about the mental aspect as the physical. There is a lot of strategy involved. Consistency is key. The monthly Learn to Curl sessions make a great introduction to the game.
The cost for each session is only $10 per person. Ages 10-80 are welcome. The session consists of 30 minutes of off-ice instruction followed by 2 hours on the ice. During the first hour, we will teach you the techniques of delivering the stone and sweeping. In the second hour, you will play a game against other new curlers. No special equipment is needed. The Fort Wayne Curling Club will provide everything that you need. Just bring a clean pair of athletic shoes (please wear a separate pair of shoes into the building), dress in layers, and bring your sense of humor.
If playing isn't your thing, you can catch plenty of action as a spectator. The club hosts several tournaments during the season, which runs from September to April. For a schedule of upcoming events, see the Fort Wayne Curling Club website.