Adventures in Curling: The Hoosiers Who Love It
INDIANAPOLIS--You may have never given any thought to curling. But, maybe you should, says Jeff Heck, a skip (sort of a team leader) with the Circle City Curling Club. At least three clubs play in Indiana, and you can actually make it to the Olympics from one of those clubs.
"It's just cool for some reason and I don't know what that reason is-why you see it on television and it just makes you watch-I don't know. That's a great question that I really don't know the answer to," said Heck.
"It's that Olympic sport that's played on ice with the brooms," said Natalie Tangen, Heck's number two on his team. It's the sport where you try to slide a large, round granite stone from one end of an ice rink to the other, and have it land in a round area called "the house". And, you keep it straight by sweeping in front of it as it slides.
"Once you play, you're hooked. You'll absolutely love it," said Heck. "So, you've got a 42 lb. piece of granite, sliding about 130 ft. down the ice and I want it to stop at a particular spot. So, it's kind of fun."
Those 42 lb. smooth-bottom stones, with a handle on top, cost about $1,000 a piece.
"This granite. There's only one place in the world it comes from. It's an island off the coast of Scottland and the actual island looks like a curling stone. I kid you not," said Heck.
Heck and his teammates wouldn't rather be anywhere else on a Thursday night, than sliding down the ice in peculiar footwear, and launching the stones toward their destination. Neither would their counterparts in two other Indiana cities that have curling clubs-Ft. Wayne and South Bend.
"They have so many folks that have joined their club (South Bend), that you play nlike every three weeks," said Heck.
In Indianapolis curlers range in age from 13 to over 70, and include a team from Butler University.
"It's a really fun strategy game that keeps you active and helps you meet all kinds of cool people," said Tangen. "It just kind of is something fun to do that's a little bit different."
"Believe it or not, we're a USCA member club. You can get to the Olympics from this club right here," said Heck. But, not this year. But, there will be a team at the Arena Nationals competition in Utah, in March.
But, it's not just the competition that gets curlers excited about getting out on the ice.
"It's like the 19th hole in golf. When we play in Fishers, there's a Ram restaurant across the street. They're a national sponsor. We'll send 30 or 40 people over there. It used to be on a Friday night. It's a blast. It's the people. It's the sport. It's everything."
PHOTOS: Chris Davis/Emmis