The curling team will travel to Chaska, MN this March to compete at the USA Curling College Championships for the first time since the team won the Division IV title in 2011. While only in the program’s sixth year, the Polar Bears have had a lot of success this season. They’re currently ranked third overall and first in their region.
“We’ve been really happy with the way this year has been going so far,” said Lauren Bostick ’16. “Since it’s winding down, we just have to keep that momentum going until Nationals, and then, even though we’re graduating and we don’t have much stake in what happens afterwards, of course we hope that the team will continue and grow.”
Looking forward, Silas Domy ’16 is both positive and cautious about the team’s prospects at Nationals.
“[We’re] sort of up in the air. We’ve both won and lost against most other teams we’ve played,” said Domy. “Yet I don’t think we’ve ever had four of our five best players on the same team in a competition this year.
Since only four people participate in each game, teams with stronger rosters won’t have their strongest lineup compete in every game or every tournament. This year’s team has a strong core of 10 players, representing all class years and experience levels, forming the program’s deepest squad in recent years.
“We have a very cohesive team,” said Domy. “Without that, we probably wouldn’t have a team because I think Hamilton is the only other similarly sized school that usually has a team in the entire country.”
With more committed players this season, the team has been more aggressive in its scheduling, traveling all the way to Rochester, NY and Philadelphia, PA for tournaments, which are called bonspiels. The team co-hosted the 6th Annual Crash ‘Spiel with the University of Maine on January 24, featuring eight teams from seven colleges. The team will also be hosting a one-day bonspiel this weekend in Cape Cod, which will feature eight teams from Maine, Massachusetts, Connecticut and New York.
Outside of some assistance from adults at the curling club in Belfast, ME, the team is entirely student run. Domy and Bostick have organized and led the team since their sophomore year, managing everything from scheduling, to coaching new players, to driving the team to practices and bonspiels. While challenging, the seniors note their experience as one of the program’s key strengths.
“The fact that we had two years to figure things out makes the program stronger,” said Bostick. “Of course it would be better if we had upperclassmen to guide us along the way, but since we’ve been in charge, there hasn’t been that change in leadership where things would have to start over. The development has been slow, but I think it’s really rewarding to see it come to fruition this year. Now we know what to do, and we just have to do it.”
Curling at its most fundamental level involves two teams sliding large stones across a sheet of ice, competing to have the stone that’s closest to the center of the target that’s painted on the ice. The four players on each team rotate through the roles of throwing the stone, using a broom to control the speed and direction of the stone and directing the other team members. A standard game consists of eight ends, which are sections of the game similar to innings in baseball. During an end, each team throws eight stones, and the team with the stone closest to the center of the target wins points for that end. The games are fairly low scoring. Typically neither team will have more than ten points at the end of competition.
The team holds weekly practices in Sidney J. Watson Arena, although the hockey rink isn’t the most suitable environment for curling training, as the sport takes place on differently textured ice. However, these casual practices serve as a great way for new people to try out the sport and get introduced to the team.
“You don’t have to be particularly strong or fast. You don’t need to have won the genetic lottery to be good at this,” said Bostick. “It’s just something you commit to, and you learn the technique and understand the strategy, and it’s something you can play for a really long time against all age levels.
Originally posted on http://bowdoinorient.com/article/10877 with photos