Monday, January 9, 2017

Curling With My Hubby Now!

A few weeks ago my husband, Billy, and I played in the Cape Cod Curling Club Bonspiel for new curlers in the past few years. It was designed to provide an opportunity for those in the Learn to Curl Class to experience a streamlined version of a bonspiel (fancy name for a curling tournament). The brand new curlers played Lead or Second and then the curlers who were in the class last year played Vice Skip and Skip. The Skip was an experienced curler who could assist as needed. And we played 6 ends instead of 8 to play more games.

What fun we had as we were even assigned to the same team. I played Vice-Skip and Billy played Lead. The Vice Skip was a big move up for me as I am most comfortable playing Second now.

For the non-curlers out there in cyberspace, the four positions on a curling team are:
Skip,Vice Skip, Second, and Lead
Each has a unique role in the strategy and playing of the sport. The Lead throws the first two stones and usually is asked to set guards in front of the house and then sweeps for all the other players. Second, thus the name of the position, goes second and is asked to do take outs and more difficult placement shots. The Second sweeps for all other team members too. Then the Vice Skip, who also holds the brush for the Skip, has more difficult shots as there are more stones in play. The Vice only sweeps for the Lead and Second. Finally, the Skip throws the last two stones and often determines the outcome of the end. The Skip is the “captain” of the team and calls the delivery. This position is critical as they must read the ice and what is happening in the house. As a beginning player last year I was happy just doing what the Skip told me to do and enjoyed setting the guards. This year I enjoy the Second spot better as I need to place the stone with a draw in and take out the stones of the other team. During the past bonspiel, though, I played Vice Skip and became more acquainted with the parameters of what that entails. While it was fun, there is much to learn about how to work with the Skip, read the ice, and place the broom for the Skip to throw the last stones. For now I want to stay with the Lead or Second position.

This week I took Thursday morning off from work and played the morning open curling time at our club (Cape Cod Curling Club). This is where I played my first full 8 ends last year after the learn to curl class. My hubby completed his class this past fall, and now he is curling in the open sessions. What fun we had (would you agree Billy?) curling in a social time. We just signed up to curl in the Sunday night league together. He will play Lead and I will play Second on a team and we will curl each Sunday for 10 weeks. Stay tuned and I will share how that works out but I can’t wait. I had all the fun last year curling and now that he has the time to curl he has “fallen” for the sport too. I will be doing the Thursday night Ladies League as well but Sunday night will be “our” curling time. In the future we hope to take advantage of the travelling opportunities with the Club.

In my next curling blog, I will share the PowerPoint about Curling I am creating to talk at Rotary about the sport, its history, and why so many people are enjoying this amazing sport. Until then….

Good Curling!

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Thursday Night Women’s League at Cape Cod Curling Club-Alex’s First Time as Skip!

I am loving my Thursday night women’s curling league. There is a most positive something about the empowerment of women curling and then socializing at the end of competition. (And as I have brought it up often, the "winners" buy the "losers" drinks, but think we need to say the first place team buys the second place team drinks!) And the Thursday women are there to teach me the necessities of curling that I am still learning. I continue to be amazed that teammates, and even women on the opposing team, offer assistance and suggestions. Not only do they say, “amazing shot,” but they might say, “you really went for the broom but it curled so much,” or "this end of the ice is usually faster."  I am always seeking feedback, so I welcome positive and constructive comments from a teammate or another player. Maybe it’s because I am open to learning all I can about the sport of curling, but I also do hope I can be the one helping others in the future.

 This past Thursday was just great even though half the team was not there and we only had one sub but needed two! I’ve been playing Lead and my teammate, Alexandra (Alex), usually plays Vice-Skip but this evening she was asked to step up and Skip. Our one sub Linda, and I each threw 3 stones for each end and Alex threw two. This is also a great way to get additional practice in as you can use reflective practices to figure out what to do to improve withe each throw.

My family and others that know me can attest that I like to give grades for the performance of others and even myself. For my playing this past Thursday night, I give myself an A-. I played pretty well and had some great shots. I know I can get better, too, though. Figuring out the weight of the throw, the ice, and aiming to the broom. It was great as I threw three stones each end as there were only three on the team instead of four.

What I really enjoyed this week was the teamwork of my Skip and Vice Skip/Second. As noted earlier it was Alex’s first time skipping (Is that a real verb with respect to curling, I wonder?? Know it is a verb with respect to jumping or skipping rope but does the definition include curling? Well, I just looked it up and the definition of skipping does not include the intent with curling! The word, skip, is also not defined with curling in mind, so perhaps we curlers need to rewrite the definitions! For the non curlers reading this blog, here is the definition of Skip in curing:

The player who determines the strategy, and directs play for the team. The skip delivers the last pair of stones for his/her team in each end.

Alex usually plays Vice-Skip and assists the Skip, but this evening she was in charge of figuring out the plays and making the calls for our team. I was so pleased to be there for her first skipping in a league. Her hubby and in-laws watched as she made the calls and moved the team to be tied in the eighth end. What I particularly liked is that Alex contemplated the calls and there was a give and take back and forth with the Vice Skip.

Long story short-we lost the game in the eighth end with the last stone!! We had an amazing come back with great take outs and strategy, but having the hammer for our opposing team was our downfall.

Congrats to you, Alex, and thanks for letting me part of your history. I am honored and humbled. Well done! I liked your kind way of showing and being a leader for our team. I liked that you called, “sweep” and “stop” with a voice that made me feel I was part of the team’s strategy. Most of all, the way you spoke was a voice of authority, but also kindness with the edge of competiveness. I hope you pick me to play with you soon. Congrats on your first Skip position and what a great memory. A grade of A for you! I did play Vice Skip in a morning league one time last year, but I am much too young (in curling that is!) to Skip soon, but perhaps next year you can watch me Skip my first game.

Skip, Skipping, Skipped-these curling terms need to be added to the “regular” dictionary definitions.

Friday, October 21, 2016

It’s Curling Season On Cape Cod Again-YEA!

October 21, 2016
I am so excited to be curling again. Even though I only started last year, and I’m considered a “newbie,” it’s like riding a bike and it came back quickly. Two weeks ago I curled in the opening social time at our club (Cape Cod Curling Club) and I was nervous. A special thank you to my other newbie curling friend, Tom, who booked ice time for us to practice before I played a game. Sometimes I over think things and after a six month break I was thinking, “How do I slide? What foot goes out first? How hard do I throw the stone? How do I aim? And so on….” Anyway, it was great to practice then curl in opening social time and now I am playing regularly with the Thursday night Ladies League.

Last night was my second week back to curling with the league and I love it. It is such an incredible and unique sport that I continue to be amazed. I’m playing Lead and enjoy the position, but towards the end of last year I liked 2nd better as you did more take outs and had the opportunity to place stones in the house and not just throw guards. Don’t get me wrong, as there is an important role for each of the four players, but I like the variety of shots with the 2nd spot. 

I played fairly well my first two weeks, but I am also eager to fine tune my throws. A teammate reminded me that you need to think about the weight of the throw, placement, and the ice. Another way to say this-You need to think about the speed, force, and direction of the stone you throw. Of course you have to do what your Skip tells you to do. The Skip places her/his broom where you should throw the stone and provides the right handle to use. Not to brag, but I throw to the broom pretty well and can place the stone. Of course we are all human and I don’t put the throw of the weight (heavy or light) together every time, but I am learning. I am also astonished at some of the shots the more experienced players make. They “draw” the stone to sit in front of the opposing team’s stone, knock out two or three stones at a time, and even place a hammer (last stone of the game) stone in a specific place in the house to win the end. 

With respect to the etiquette with the sport of curling, I must admit I am still learning. An opposing team player pulled me aside last night and shared some etiquette tips. Little did I know that I can’t move around to get ready for the sweeping. Yes, I am also a tennis player so I was doing a little back and forth motion and getting “psyched” for the throw and to ready to sweep but…. But, it is distracting to the thrower to do this. So noted and I am now calmer as I wait to sweep. I also learned that I shouldn’t be in the front of the hog line (was standing on it) when the other team throws. It’s ok for me to be there when my team is throwing, but only the team with someone throwing the stone should be there. Opposing teammates should be on the other side of the hog line.

I like to read and watch videos to help me learn more about the sport. Here are some links and information about curling if you want to learn more too:

Curlers are competitive yet very kind. We always start a game shaking everyone’s hand (should use gloves for health safety issues) and say, “Good Curling.” Then at the end of a game curlers shake hands again. Great sportspersonship! And of course it is fun to sit at the assigned table (by sheet) after the games are finished. Opposing team players socialize and talk about their play. I must admit the women at my table last night also talked about food, family, significant others, jobs, curling clothing, and I, of course, shared my step count of 7,685 for the evening (7 miles of exercise with moving and sweeping). 

I’ll post some curling pictures next time.

Until then-Good curling all.

Thursday, March 31, 2016

My Last Saturday League Curling

This past Saturday was my last league night for the season. I played pretty well and it was a fun night with our Skip putting on the bunny ears I brought for Easter. Also a friend from my condo complex had his son visiting and he took some great pictures of me curling and I will share some here.
As I sit to write this curling blog I am astonished at just how far I have come since my Learn to Curl class late October-December. Was it really only five months ago that I was getting comfortable on the ice, trying to learn about sliding the stone, figuring out what the Slip wanted me to do and actually doing what I need to do to be part of the game. There was a Slide and Delivery Clinic at the Cub that helped me with my delivery techniques too. There were only three participants to an instructor and he video taped us too. The take aways from this clinic were invaluable to me and my team even commented on my delivery improvement.

What makes the sport or game of curling so much fun and why have I become so excited about it? I think I love the different aspects of the game – the sportpersonship, the strategy of where to put the stone, the team aspect of the game, finesse of sliding to deliver the stone, and sweeping. I do love to sweep too! People have called me the Mad Sweeper as I look pretty intense when I sweep. I do some weights each week but the perhaps we should conduct a study of how sweeping assist with upper arm (bicep/tricep) strength.
At the end of our game we sat at our table and I was bought a drink by the opposing second. Yes, this tells you that we lost but it was close to the last end!
I ended up talking about my physical education and health education background.
This led to the handshaking tradition discussion. I do wear a curling glove so I use it when I shake hands at the beginning of a game. Everyone shakes and says, “good curling.” It’s a shame as we were told to use the hand sanitizer as many were sick. So this is how we starting the discussion of using hand bumping instead of the hand shaking. Hand bumping would be much healthier than the handshaking or perhaps we should require gloves?
We will have to wait to discuss the curling handshake/fist bump at the annual meeting? So until next year I will use my glove and try to spread the word about the need to eliminate the curling handshake so we can be heathy curlers.

How about a CULRING HANDLE WAVE? Like the Skip indicating the handle?

Thank you Saturday League and also Thursday morning open curlers. You have helped me become a better curler and I have falling for the sport. David, Will, and Caroline I do hope we can play together as a team soon. You made my first league experience one I shall never forget. Thanks for putting up with me, making me laugh, and especially being my first real curling team.

So until the next time I curl, and it will be awhile as our club closes till the fall, let me say…

“Good curling one and all!