Curling may seem like a strange way for a human beings to spend their spare time -- like cataloging 19th century poisons or collecting Barbie dolls if you're not age 12 and a girl -- but there's nothing any football worshiping Texan can say that will faze a member of the Dallas/Fort Worth Curling Club. They've already heard it.
"The first reaction is kind of like, 'What, like you see on TV during the Olympics on ice with brooms you sweep with and the rocks?" said Nick Myers, the club's special programs director.
The Dallas/Fort Worth Curling Club, only one of three in the whole state, has been in continuous operation for the last 12 years and if you don't believe it, you can see for yourself by going showing up at 5 p.m. Sunday at Dr Pepper StarCenter in Farmers Branch. For $20, they will teach you how to throw a couple of stones and sweep your way to glory.
Myers said the club started around the time of the 2000 Winter Olympics in Salt Lake City and held its first intramural match at the Dr Pepper StarCenter in Duncanville. The club began with three or four members but has grown to around 40.
"Some people got together, I believe, at a coffee shop and they saw it on the Olympics ... and decided they'd like to see if they could get a club going in the area," Myers said. "They talked to the Dr Pepper StarCenter and they were able to get a sheet of ice and draw some circles and some lines and they were able to get some curling stones from the U.S. Curling Association."
The most common frame of reference for most sports fans may be the shuffleboard tables they see at their neighborhood bar, but Myers said that curling's element of control gives the game a greater degree of strategy and teamwork.
"Once you start sliding [the stone] down the ice with your hand, you can't touch it or anything like that," he said. "So as you push out and deliver the stone and let go of it, you use the brooms to sweep in front of the rock to help the rock go further and straighter. Depending on what turn you put on it, it could make an arc to the right or to the left. That rotation on the rock and the arc is called curl and that's where the sport gets its name from."
The strategy can also go much deeper than just knocking an opponent's stones out of the circle, he said.
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"It's like chess on ice," he said. "It's very mental, strategy wise. The game is about 80 percent mental and 20 percent physical ...The mental part is positioning your stones so that your opponent's stones can't get to the center of the circle."
Myers said the game might be a far cry from softball or flag football, but goal of the Curling Club is really the same as any intramural sports league.
"Everybody gets along and are really good friends," he said. "It's customary that over the years that the winner of a game buys the losers a round of drinks whether it's beers or soda, and for me, I've been curling a long time and some of my fondest memories is going to a curling club in the middle of a blizzard just to play a game when I was growing up in Minnesota. There's a lot of fond memories that come from it."