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Perfection on Ice – Check Out Curling

October 24, 2022

Inspiration, Motivation for Women Interested in New Sports, Female Athletes

Women’s Athletic Network at the Utica Curling Club

Envision the games of Archery and Darts, with their colored circles to pierce on a horizontal stand at a distance away from you, and put those same circles on a sheet of ice similar to a very long rectangular bowling lane, then get down in a squat position balancing yourself perfectly on a round “stone” and push the stone forward and you got Curling! Sound difficult? It was for me; the one sport so far that gave me some instant purple bruises on my knees mainly because my core wasn’t strong enough at times to not fall on the ice once I pushed the stone.

7 women gathered with me in a perfectly frozen arena, in the oldest Curling Club East of the Mississippi on an extra warm, 80-degree-day in Upstate New York to learn the sport. Curling, unlike other sports, is a team sport and not one I could learn on my own, I needed some sisters in business to join me. After learning the Club was established in 1868, the same years the 14th Amendment gave African Americans the right to vote, tells you how long this sport has been around in our region and how much people love it.

Utica Curling Club with Women’s Athletic Network Members

Before the Utica Curling Club was housed in a beautiful indoor facility, curling was played years before 1868 on the Erie Canal and other plentiful waterways in the region. It was a statistic I had no idea of even though I was born in the Mohawk Valley area of New York State. I grew up on a lake where I ice skated or played hockey with family and friends, but never “curled a stone” down a straight line to concentric circles with team mates “sweeping” the ice in front of the stone to get it to go (aka curl)  where we wanted. An engineer had to design this sport, I thought to myself after trying it. Precision, analytics, and science all played a role in creating this popular year-round activity.

Divided into teams of four, after we put on our rubber grippers over our shoes so we could stand on the ice without falling, we learned the art of placing our feet in the “hacks” to push off of, similar to a track block for forward motion. As we balanced one hand on the stone made of granite with its handle positioned where our “Skip” wanted the stone to slide down the 45 meter long, 5 meter width sheet, into the “House” or bullseye if you will, to score points or knock out competitors’ rocks to gain points to win the match.

We learned the game and competed against each other all in two hours. I wouldn’t say any of us perfected the sport since it takes between 5-6 lessons to be good but we sure gave it the ole girl’s try. Here are some of the comments from our curling team to enlighten you further: 

* It was much harder than we thought it would be.
* Getting over the feeling you will slip or fall on the ice is a must to play it.
* Patience and balance is needed pushing the stone, speed is needed to sweep the stone.
* Shouting is necessary to communicate with teammates on opposite ends of the ice – so if you don’t like silence you’ll like this sport.
* There is way more thinking to this sport than other sports.
* Learning to work with a team is a benefit of this special fitness activity.

Women’s Athletic Network

Half of the women who went with me said they’d try it again and half said they wouldn’t. I would try it again although I’m a sports girl who likes full on speed; but there is something to say about playing with others, using your brains and body at the same time, and participating in a sport that has been tested over time. I highly suggest learning more about Curling and looking into Curling Clubs in your region and find a way to try it or join a beginner’s league, which many have.

Then call me when you need a fourth person to play! 

Tracy Chamberlain Higginbotham – Curling

Follow Tracy’s Sports Adventures on TikTok @tracychigginbotham or the website

One Comment leave one →
  1. October 24, 2022 4:27 pm

    I used to curl in high school at the Schenectady Curling Club. I went to the Utica one for a bonspiel once. How fun!!

    So glad you tried it!


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