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Bowdoin Orient: Curling team finishes regular season on top

Curling team finishes regular season on top

February 15, 2019

Kayla Snyder
SWEEP ME OFF MY FEET: Claire Pierce ’22 and Maynor Loaisiga ’22 sweep as Ella Crabtree ’22 throws a stone. The team will go to nationals over Spring break.

The curling team ended its regular season in Utica last weekend, finishing third out of 24 competitors. Now, the top five members will continue to the national competition in Wayland, Massachusetts over spring break, where the team is seeded seventh. The team has doubled in size since last year, contributing to its successful season.

After the U.S. men’s curling team won gold in the 2018 Olympics, the sport became more appealing to new players, and Bowdoin’s own team has doubled in size since last year. This uptick in members has been seen in both teams and clubs across the curling community this year.

“We have had an upward growth which has been amazing,” said captain Kylie Best ’19. “All of our team, except for myself, did not curl before college, so for us to be so successful with a bunch of relatively inexperienced people is fantastic.”

At the Student Activities Fair last fall, the team received over 75 sign-ups. Out of the 75, over 20 students became permanent members. Uniquely, the team consists of social members who go out on the ice to have fun and those who want to become more competitive at the sport and frequently participate in the tournaments.

“At the beginning of the season, we ask the entire group who wants to be considered for the [national competition],” said Best. “Some are only interested in the social aspect, which is totally fine. This way, those who are more interested in being more competitive can express it early on.”

Looking toward the national competition, the team expects to hold its own against northeastern competitors. Teams from the Midwest tend to be stiffer competition as they have smaller teams that have been curling longer.

“The hope is to win,” said captain Zack Leblanc ’20. “Last year, I think we had a little bit of a disappointing finish; we finished 10th or 11th. This year, [we’re ranked] seventh, [and] I think we can do a little bit better just playing as well as we can.”

In addition to the increase in new members, the team also added a volunteer advisor, Jonathan St. Mary ’67. He is the first community member to enter a mentorship role for the team. With many years of curling experience, St. Mary has competed in the Francis Dykes Memorial Bonspiel and Men’s Grand Nationals.

“He had some really good pointers about strategy, which has been something that has hurt us in the past,” Best said. “We just don’t know a lot about strategy, and it’s very difficult.”

St. Mary was especially influential in teaching the influx of first years curling technique. His expert advice is helpful for newcomers who have no prior experience with the sport.

“It’s been really helpful to have someone who knows what they are talking about give some pointers,” Best said, “rather than have people who haven’t been curling very long teaching people who haven’t been curling at all.”

This weekend, the team will host a learn to curl event at Flight Deck Brewing Company. No experience is necessary, and members of the team will be demonstrating the sport and putting on a mini bonspiel for the community.

“There are actually some people in Brunswick [who] are looking to bring a new sort of ice facility to the area that would be both a hockey rink and a curling facility,” Leblanc said. “So they’re putting us on to demonstrate community interest.”

The team will teach curling from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturday. The event is free and open to the public.

2018-2019 Results

*updated 8 February

Philadelphia College Spiel

One team, record 1-2. Win against Colgate, loss to Yale, RPI.

Broomstones College Bonspiel

Bowdoin I record 3-2, wins against RPI, MIT 1, MIT 3; losses to Harvard & MIT 3. C event winners.

Bowdoin II record 1-3, win against Harvard, losses to Penn, Oklahoma, MIT 3.

RPI Schenectady College Bonspiel

Bowdoin I record 0-3, losses to Colgate, RIT, Hamilton.

Bowdoin II record 3-1, C Event winners. Wins against RPI I, RPI III, MIT. Loss to Yale.

Belfast College Crash Spiel

Bowdoin I record 3-1, A event runners-up, Wins against UMaine, Unity, MIT. Loss to MIT.

Bowdoin II, split team with RIT, record 2-2. C event winners. Wins against UMaine and Unity, losses to MIT and RIT.

Yale College Bonspiel

Record 1-2, Win against Syracuse, losses to RPI, SUNY Poly.

Cape Cod Bonspiel

Bowdoin 1 record 2-2, wins against Castleton and Unity, losses to MIT and SUNY Poly. B event runners-up.

Bowdoin II record 1-2, win against Cornell, losses to Syracuse and SUNY Poly.

Utica College Bonspiel

Bowdoin I record 3-2, B event winners. Beat Castleton, SUNY Poly II, and Hamilton. Losses to SUNY Poly I, RPI I.

Bowdoin II record 1-2, beat Yale II, lost to RPI II, Colgate II

Bowdoin College’s curling team is growing fast

Curling isn’t a sport you hear much about in the U.S. outside of the Olympics, but Bowdoin College’s curling team has seen huge growth over the past four years. The team started in 2010. Four years ago, there were just 5 players. But this year, Bowdoin has 18 registered members, and a few more who are checking the sport out.

BRUNSWICK, Maine (NEWS CENTER) — Curling isn’t a sport you hear much about in the United States outside of the Olympics, but Bowdoin College’s curling team has seen huge growth over the past four years.

The team started in 2010. Four years ago, there were just 5 players. But this year, Bowdoin has 18 registered members and a few more who are checking the sport out.

Some players are drawn to the team because they saw the sport on TV during the Olympics. Others are looking for leadership opportunities, or just want to try something new. But Senior Max Sterman thinks its the friendships that blossom on the team that makes people stick with it.

“We are a high-energy team,” Sterman said. “Everybody enjoys being with everybody else. We enjoy what we do on the ice. We enjoy what we do off the ice.”

Being on club curling is not without sacrifice. The team practices 4-5 hours per week. Thursday nights, practices often don’t start until 9 p.m. because ice time is at such a premium. The curlers travel an hour and a half each way to the Belfast Curling Club on Sundays to train with more experienced curlers, and to get on actual curling ice.

Hockey ice is colder than curling ice, and in order to make the stones slide, you have to “pebble” the ice. That means, spray small droplets of deionized water all over the surface. Tournaments, or bonspiels, as they are called, can sometimes be 9 hours away.

| RELATED » Heroes of the curlers at Bowdoin College

Sophomore Kylie Best, who is the women’s captain of the team, says all that hard work is worth it. “Curling just attracts really kind, really fun, really interesting people. It’s very much a sport of camaraderie.”

Part of the reason, perhaps, is that it is a “gentleman’s sport.” Players shake hands with their opponents. You congratulate the other team when they make a particularly good shot, and, according to team co-captain Cole Hamel, “Traditionally, the winning team buys the losing team drinks. But that doesn’t happen in college curling.” We are told college curlers go out for coffee.

Bowdoin Orient: Five from curling team will travel to Nationals

March 2, 2018

Five members of the Bowdoin curling team will travel to compete at the 2018 College National Curling Championship in Eau Claire, Wisconsin next week. Having ended the season ranked fourth in the nation, the team hopes to do well enough in the starting pool to advance to the championship bracket.

In order to advance in the tournament, the team needs to finish in one of the top two spots out of the four teams in their round robin pool. The teams are Bowdoin, St. Norbert College, SUNY Polytechnic Institute and University of Oklahoma. The top two of each of the four brackets then advance to the championship bracket.

“Top six is the goal. We’ve done it before and I don’t see why we can’t do it again. This year, the team that we’re taking is a lot stronger than any team we’ve taken before, so I’m fairly optimistic,” said captain Tom Ezquerro ’18.

This is the team’s third consecutive and fourth overall time competing at nationals since it was established seven years ago.

“Two seniors are going, so I hope they will end their season in a way that they’re proud of and in a greater way, that the rest of us end our season in a way that we’re proud of,” Kylie Best ’19 said.

While the team has never won the tournament, captain Cole Hamel ’18 says the growth of the team—it has gone from five to six players in 2015 to over 20 this season—has contributed to the team’s success. Since the team gets one point for playing in a game and another for winning, their overall ranking goes up depending on how many teams they send to a tournament.

Matt Swiatek ’20 believes that a point system that rewards participation has helped make the team more inclusive.

“Even people who haven’t been on the team for very long we’ll still send to competitions because we know they can get points even if they don’t play at the highest level. They’ll get points simply for competing,” said Swiatek.

However, Ezquerro notes that curling on the college level has become more competitive recently, making Bowdoin’s success at tournaments more important in getting a bid to nationals.

“The other side of it is [that] curling at the collegiate level has become more popular, so we’re vying for the same amount of points with more teams, so the point qualification is a little bit more challenging this year. There’s anticipation for a lot more teams to join next year as well,” said Ezquerro.

According to Best, the team’s fourth-place ranking is not just a product of the team’s growth, but also due to their increased competitiveness.

“We definitely made a concerted effort to be more competitive this season and I think that shows in our ranking,” she said. “This is the highest we’ve finished since 2010. So I do think that we have more of a drive to be competitive and I think that has shown itself in how our season worked out.”

Since most members of the team never curled before joining, practice starts at the most basic level. While the team has a liason at the Belfast Curling Club in Belfast, Maine who provides advice and support, it has no coach. New members learn first at the Watson arena–where the ice is pebbled to make it suitable for curling– before heading over to the Belfast Curling Club for Sunday practices.

“It’s basically just getting people familiar with the ice, familiar with the weird movements and weird body positions that go into curling, making sure they get as much practice as possible,” said Hamel.

Outreach for the team has continued into the second semester, with the curling team holding a “Learn to Curl” event this past weekend. The event encouraged Bowdoin students and members of the community to get acquainted with the sport.

“It was for people who had never curled before, so they could come and just see what curling is all about. It was very exciting.” said Hamel.

According to Ezquerro, 52 people, including students, professors and their families, and other staff members showed up to the event.

The team has also been enjoying other forms of publicity from the Bowdoin Magazine to an Instagram post showing President Clayton Rose curling with the team.

“My hopes from that are that we get more people interested,” Best said. “In terms of recruiting, it would make me so happy if somebody said “I came to Bowdoin because I wanted to curl.’”

Five from curling team will travel to Nationals

Bowdoin’s Curling Team—Its Largest Ever—Plays Nice

January 26, 2018 by Rebecca Goldfine

Bowdoin Curling leaders: Kylie Best ’19, Thomas Ezquerro ’18, Cole Hamel ’18, Zachary LeBlanc ’20, and Isabella Vakkur ’20

Bowdoin Curling leaders: Kylie Best ’19, Thomas Ezquerro ’18, Cole Hamel ’18, Zachary LeBlanc ’20, and Isabella Vakkur ’20

Curling is sometimes referred to as “chess on ice,” according to Cole Hamel ’18, who is co-captain of the Bowdoin Curling team.

While the winter sport might look deceptively simple — players take turns sliding heavy polished granite stones across ice, attempting to get their stones closest to the target — teams win based on strategy as well as skill.

It is that mental component, as well as the “spirit of curling” — its camaraderie and friendly competitiveness — that has helped propel curling into an increasingly popular club sport at Bowdoin.

“You’re not just trying to crush your enemy,” team treasurer Zachary LeBlanc ’20 said. Ezquerro added, “No matter if we win or lose, we’ll be the same team, laughing and joking.”

When Hamel and Ezquerro joined the team four years ago, there were only five players. This year, thanks in part to the duo’s promotion of curling on campus — including more team bonding activities, a stronger social media presence and sharp team jackets — there are twenty-eight players. A little more than half are women.

“For a Bowdoin sport, that it’s co-ed changes the attitude and the mentality,” team secretary Kylie Best ’19 said. “It’s not an aggressive, high-pressure sport.”

There is no advantage to being large or small, being a woman or being a man. And that “accessibility is appealing,” said Isabella Vakkur ’20, the team’s communications director.

Despite most of Bowdoin’s players not having played before coming to college (only Best played in high school), they are a strong competitor on the college curling circuit. The Bangor Daily News recently reported on a weekend curling tournament, or bonspiel, in Belfast, Maine’s only dedicated curling facility.

Harvard, Yale, Bowdoin, MIT, University of Maine, and Unity were some of the eleven teams competing.

Bowdoin was defeated by “a team of experienced curlers largely made up of graduate students from Yale,” the BDN reports. Bowdoin came in second.

But Hamel said the defeat doesn’t rankle. “We may not always win, but we never lose,” he said.

Sharing the spirit of curling

Kylie Best with her French curling teammates

Kylie Best with her French curling teammates

Kylie Best ’18 did not let being abroad stop her curling practice; she joined an intergenerational team in France — all of whom received complimentary Bowdoin Curling t-shirts. In return, Best received a “Curling Club de Lyon” sweater. Bowdoin Curling co-captain Thomas Ezquerro ’18 spent part of the winter break in Buffalo, N.Y., helping the local curling club there get up and running in its new indoor facility. “I felt that this was a great way to give back to a sport that I love so much and also help out my hometown community,” he said. And Zachary LeBlanc ’20 recently advised a friend at Brown University who was inspired by LeBlanc’s social media posts to start a team at his school.

Artlicle originally published on Bowdoin News:


College curling teams chase national points in Falmouth

FALMOUTH – You don’t need to be a rocket scientist to appreciate curling. But maybe it helps.

Greg Dooley is looking to compete in the USA Curling College Championships for the fourth straight year – while earning a Ph.D in astrophysics from MIT.

“Curling gets me out of Cambridge and is a really fun activity. It’s social and I get to meet up with friends. I come back to school on Mondays feeling refreshed,” he says. “But I also like the strategy that is involved. There is a good amount of thinking about where you place the stone, how you’re going to call the sweep, and the communication back-and-forth with each other. Once you’ve curled for a while you realize how important all that is.”

See a photo gallery from Saturday’s competition

Dooley made the journey with his teammates Saturday to the Cape Cod Curling Club in Falmouth to compete against five other colleges in a one-day bonspiel. Matches began at 8:30 a.m. and lasted until 4:30 p.m. as teams vied to accumulate merit points that could send them on to next month’s nationals in Minnesota. Also participating were teams from Bowdoin College, RPI, Yale, Harvard and Boston University.

The event was hosted for the third straight year by Bowdoin, even though team members had one of the longest commutes at more than four hours. But traveling great distances is not uncommon for competitors who have become hooked by a sport that most people see only when the Winter Olympics roll around every four years.

Many of the same schools who were in Falmouth will head to Utica, N.Y., next weekend for a bonspiel. In a season that began in October and ends later this month, these collegiate curlers will compete across the Northeast.

“These kids are amazing,” said Bill Gallagher, a Cape Cod Curling member who helped organize Saturday’s event. “We donate the ice time, but they coordinate everything as far as getting the schools here.”

As a club sport, none of the teams have official coaches. Instead, the more experienced curlers serve as team leaders.

In curling, a player slides a heavy stone down a long sheet of ice as teammates use brooms to sweep the ice, thus causing the stones to curve or curl toward a circular scoring target. Sixteen stones are thrown in each round, which is called an end. Points are awarded at the conclusion of the end, depending on which team’s stone or stones is closest to the scoring area, called the house.

Teams earned two points for each match win at Saturday’s bonspiel, with the losing team collecting one point. Total team points for a season that ends in mid-February will determine the 16 teams that qualify for the nationals.

Bowdoin entered this weekend’s completion ranked third nationally, while RPI was tied for first. Yale, Harvard, BU and MIT were all within the top 16 heading into the weekend, but none were yet assured of a trip to Minnesota.

“We’re on the bubble,” said Dooley, whose MIT team is ranked 14th. “This weekend and next weekend are very important. We need to play well and win some games.”

Curling remains something of a niche sport, even on campuses that field teams. None of the schools competing on Saturday have more than 20 members in their program, while MIT has just seven this year and Harvard sent only three curlers to Falmouth.

But those that compete are devoted to a sport that many started playing only in the past few years.

“I began curling when I came upon a learn-to-curl program at Yale. I was hooked from day one,” said Allison Goldberg.

A Phoenix native, Goldberg is studying for her Ph.D in pharmacology, yet she finds the time most weekends to attend bonspiels.

“It’s a really welcoming sport,” she said. “You can start at nothing and work your way up. Everyone you meet is so enthusiastic. It’s definitely an up-and-coming sport at Yale.”

Bowdoin teammates Silas Domy and Lauren Bostick organized Saturday’s bonspiel. Most bonspiels run through the entire weekend, but a lack of available ice time limited Saturday’s competition to one day. Therefore, games that can last up to 2 1/2 hours were reduced from eight ends to six, and a championship round had to be scrapped.

“It’s a less stressful event without the finals, but it’s still fun,” Domy said. “Everybody is still looking to accumulate points to qualify for the nationals. It’s a really nice environment here, but we’re competing and we want to win.”

Still, there are unlikely to be any dust-ups at a bonspiel.

“Curling is a pretty social sport,” Bostick says. “We have these weekends when we compete, and then we have lunch and dinner together. But the competition can get intense.”

Domy, a government and environmental studies major, calls curling “psychological chess.”

“There are just a million combinations of what can happen,” he said. “There are a lot more variables than in other sports.”

This much seems certain: Curling demands commitment. Bowdoin doesn’t have a curling rink on campus, so the team drives 90 minutes to Belfast, Maine, for practices and home competitions. They figured to make it back on campus after Saturday’s bonspiel at around 9 p.m.

“But after our success this year we’re gaining something of a following,” Domy says. “It’s pretty cool, actually.”

Originally posted on with photos


Curling excited for nationals in Minnesota after strong season

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 with photos

Seven schools battle in Maine College Curling Crash ‘Spiel

BELFAST, Maine — The sixth annual Maine College Curling Crash ‘Spiel took place at the Belfast Curling Club over the weekend and featured 24 hours of intense curling competition among the seven colleges/universities that attended.

Teams from the University of Maine and Bowdoin served as tourney hosts and played curling teams from Harvard, Yale, the University of Pennsylvania, Boston University and MIT.

During Sunday morning’s finals, Harvard bested Penn in the “A” event, Yale beat MIT in the “B” event and Bowdoin I defeated Bowdoin II in the “C” event.

Bowdoin is preparing for the United States Association Curling College championship on March 11-13 in Chaska, Minnesota. Bowdoin won gold in Division IV of the college nationals in 2011.


Originally posted (with photos) on:

Video: Bowdoin Curling Team Wins Silver in Championship ‘Bonspiel’

Bowdoin College’s curling team is brushing brooms and throwing stones on its way to regional and national prominence. This season the team won the Maine State Championships and came in second in its division at the regional games, losing to Harvard University.

Nationals weren’t held this year – which Bowdoin won in its divisionlast year – because of funding issues with College Curling USA.

Captain Carl Spielvogel ’13 said his team’s “very happy with our results because we moved up from the very bottom of the bracket, in years of experience, and lost to the top [bracket].” The current team, which Spielvogel founded last year, consists of Jay Tulchin ’13, Andrew Hancock ’13 and Jimena Escudero ’13.

Spielvogel has also been instrumental in getting a college league started in Maine, according to a recent story in the Bangor Daily News.Now Bates and Unity colleges both have teams. And in early March, 10 teams from around New England and New York traveled to the Belfast Curling Club in Belfast – Maine’s only curling rink – to compete in the Maine college league’s first bonspiel, as curling tournaments are called.

Escudero, who joined the team this year, said the 23-hour bonspiel of nearly nonstop curling was the highlight of the season for her. “It was great to meet and socialize with curlers from all over the region, and as it was the first time I really saw curling in action, I feel like I learned more about the game than I had in all the weekends leading up to it.”

Spielvogel says he anticipates the team will be a strong contender next season. “Next year we’ll be training hard to qualify and make it to nationals. With ice time granted twice a week to us at Bowdoin (thank you Bowdoin!) and ice time at Belfast, we’ll be ready to hit the ice in October to practice drills.”

Originally posted on with photos.

Curling prepares for home bonspiel

After winning a national championship in its first season last year, Bowdoin’s club curling team is looking to repeat its early success. More than halfway done with its season, which ends in April, the team has its sole home competition this weekend.

Individually, the athletes have been practicing regularly, traveling an hour and a half to Belfast, Maine, every Sunday for ice time. Due to the long commute, the players curl individually whenever they have time. Some curl midweek in leagues, while others practice over school breaks against other programs, such as Harvard, Boston University, Colgate, and MIT.

The team is looking forward to its two biggest events of the season: the Maine Collegiate Championships and Easterns. Last year, the Polar Bears took first in the former bonspiel—the name for curling competitions—and are looking to repeat this weekend.

Despite the squad’s excitement about the upcoming events, there are some noteworthy changes to this year’s curling calendar. Instead of Nationals, the divisions will be split up into Eastern, Midwest and Central. Most curling events include D-I, D-II and D-III competitors, with both undergraduate and graduate competitors. Curling is unique because teams may be comprised of curlers from different schools, so players from MIT, Harvard, Bowdoin, and Unity College get to know one another and spend time together.

There is a lot more to curling than may meet the eye, according to captain Carl Spielvogel ’13.

For one, it’s all about stance. Curlers spend a significant portion of their time balancing on one foot as they brush the ice, in order for the stone to travel down the surface. Spielvogel said that loose clothing allows for optimal movement. In addition, players must memorize where on the ice the stone will curl the most depending on its weight, and how to use the ice to their advantage.

Spielvogel said he enjoys curling because “it is all centered around sportsmanship.” Before the match, players shake the hands of all their teammates and their opponents and say, “Good curling.”

The biggest challenge thus far has been an interest in curling, as the team currently consists of fewer than a dozen participants. There are several events that the team could have competed in, but the team has found it difficult to attend due to travel and expenses.

Originally posted on with photos