Traverse City Curling Tournament This Weekend Promises to be the Bomb-spiel

Traverse City Curling Tournament This Weekend Promises to be the Bomb-spiel

Looking for a competitive sport that can get you in shape, help you flex your mental muscle and introduce you to a lot of cool friends?

Curling could be just what you’re looking for.

The sport is taking off in Traverse City, which is home to the first ever Cherry Bombspiel curling tournament, taking place April 24-26. The event is being put on by the Traverse City Curling Club (TCCC), which will officially turn one year old over the weekend. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Michigan is the main sponsor of the event.

Don Piche is the club’s president. He said an initial open house last year attracted over 500 people to check out the sport. Teams from other established curling clubs in the state showed up to teach and it was immediately clear to Piche and others that “this is something people want to do.”

One year later, the club has introduced over 2,000 people to curling. It boasts 85 established members, although Piche estimates that there are probably over 100 curlers who regularly come out to play at the Centre Ice Arena, the club’s current home.

Piche thinks Traverse City is a ripe spot to become a curling destination. He said the community is very open to new ideas and residents take pride in thinking outside the box when it comes to entertainment. Plus, curling can be played with co-ed teams, all skill levels can find a way to play, and there’s a mental aspect to the game that players enjoy.

“It’s such a fun game,” he said.

Jack Jamieson is a 20-year-old Traverse City resident. He played football, wrestled and ran track in high school, but curling was his first foray back into sports since graduating. He’ll be playing in the tournament and said he enjoys the laid-back nature of the game and the people who play it.

“It was easier than I expected,” Jamieson said. “Everybody there is extremely friendly and cool to talk to.”

He also likes curling’s accessibility and that you can be competitive even if you haven’t been playing your whole life. He said he gets better every time he plays and that the challenge keeps him coming back.

“You can throw 20 bad rocks, but throwing one really good one makes your night,” he said.

Interlochen resident Thomas Johnson has been playing since late last year. The 54-year-old will help out as part of the ice crew during the tournament. He started as a way to stay in shape during the winter. He’s done that and more, losing seven pounds over the season. Johnson is happy about the physical improvements he’s seen through curling that will allow him to resume biking and running now that the weather is getting nicer.

He loves seeing people of all ages take part in the sport, noting that teens to eighty-year-olds are all part of the club.

“It’s a sport that everyone can do if they want to,” he said.

Husband and wife duo George and Susan Townsend play on a four-person team together.

“We liked it instantly and it’s a lot of fun,” George Townsend said.

“It’s nice that we can do it together,” Susan Townsend added. “It’s something we can do as a couple.”

Both say they enjoy the mental aspect of the game and that no night is ever the same.

“The game is very cool,” George Townsend said. “The strategy is very cool.”

“The ice is different every night, so you’re trying to make the ice work to your advantage,” Susan Townsend said. “There’s a lot of finesse to it.”

The club’s culture keeps them coming back. There’s a lot of camaraderie amongst players and the couple have made curling friends. They said many people, including their team partners, drive an hour or more just to play.

That doesn’t come as a surprise to Piche. He said curling as a sport continues to grow and there’s no reason national trends won’t hold true in the region. He points to recent numbers showing that 20,000 curlers are now registered in the United States. The U.S. Curling Association counts 167 curling clubs in 40 states, with additional efforts to start curling clubs underway in at least five additional states.

“The growth in this game is there,” Piche said.

Check out awesome curling action in Traverse City starting this Friday. If you like what you see, sign up for the TCCC’s Learn to Curl classes in May.

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Photo credit: A Healthier Michigan

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