Students form Curling Club, already seeing success

March 2016

2016 Curling Club 02The SUNY Poly Curling Club is already off to a great start, taking first place in February at the Utica College USA Curling Bonspiel – adding to its rapidly growing list of awards and accolades – and it’s only in its first year.

That’s because it took the initiative and drive of four dedicated students with a passion for curling to make it happen.

Created by founding members Blake Hagberg (President), Scott Murray (Vice President), Ashley Paw (Secretary), and Elizabeth Simonelli (Treasurer), the club has quickly earned a reputation for itself, ranked 8th in the country against 30 other colleges, including Harvard, RPI, RIT, Yale, and Boston University.

“Curling is fun because of the fact that anyone can do it, no matter your age, weight, or a disability,” said Hagberg. “They have ways for the blind to curl, ways for those, ways for people in wheelchairs to curl, and ways for people over 300 pounds to curl. It involves strategy, skill, and focus to be good at. And even if you aren’t the best, at the end of the day, you probably still had fun working as a team trying your hardest.”

In curling, players slide stones on a sheet of ice toward a target which is divided into four concentric circles. Two teams made up of four players each take turns sliding the heavy, polished granite stones (called rocks) across the the ice and toward the circular target.

The club recently hosted a “Learn to Curl” event at the Utica Curling Club in Whitesboro for SUNY Poly students interested in learning about curling or getting involved with the club.

2016 Curling Club 03“Students who join in, it allows them to work together in small teams to accomplish tasks, which, as a life skill, is very important,” said Murray. “Teamwork is a necessity in curling. It also gets them involved in the sport of curling, which they can participate in for the rest of their lives. And finally, as the team travels, the student’s experiences grow, and their social networks and connections between other schools increase. We hope some day the club can be a team, just like the basketball or volleyball teams here on campus.”

One of the biggest challenges for this startup was money. Curling equipment does not come cheap, but is, of course, a necessary purchase when starting up a Curling Club. Curling brooms cost $125, curling shoes can start at $150, and club dues for use of the facility cost $50 per season. That doesn’t even count entry fees (several hundred dollars each) and the expenses to travel as the club rakes up wins. In this first year, the club has already traveled to RIT, Yale, RPI to compete before moving on to the USA Curling Nationals in Chaska, Minnesota. Student Activities has lent a hand has helped with some funding for the club. Anything else comes out of the pocket of its members.

2016 Curling Club 01The club holds weekly meeting every Monday where they plan and strategize, with curling practice every Sunday along with curlers from Hamilton and Colgate Colleges. While they say forming the club was fairly straightforward, maintaining it is where the real work came in. But it’s work, they say, that’s well worth it.

“I speak for the rest of the team when I say we enjoy curling because of how unique a sport it is. Curling teams have to work together as a team in order to win,” said Murray. “ Nobody sits on the bench. It’s all hands on deck every time a rock is thrown to the other end of the ice. It’s a really awesome feeling when you and your teammates are all in sync and working together nicely. In addition, curling has really enabled us to represent our school name against schools that SUNY Poly has never competed against, which is a very cool experience for all our members. Our club members have created bonds that will last for lifetimes, and as our curling family grows, so will the friendships and memories.”