Curling cued for growth

MANCHESTER - A relatively unknown club sport, now in its third season, has been attracting more members.

The Equinox Curling Club, formed in 2010, began with just six people. In 2011, the club began with six people, but grew to 23 by the season's end. With the third season beginning at the end of last month, the goal was to have over 30 people join, according to one of the founders of the club, Jacki Lappen.

With the Winter Olympics coming up next year and curling being an Olympic event, Lappen expects interest in the sport locally to grow. Curling is a team sport played with four members per team and each member of the team takes turns at the various positions.

"One of the players is delivering the stone, two members are sweeping and one member acts like the quarterback [and] calls the strategy," Lappen said.

By putting pressure on their brooms, the sweepers create a light film of water on the surface of the rink allowing the stone to travel farther than it normally would.

The objective is to score more points than the opposing team over the course of eight ends - which are like innings in baseball - by pushing the stone from one end of a skating rink to what's known as the house at the other end, which is like a big bullseye, according to Lappen. Unlike hockey, curling is played in sneakers as opposed to on ice skates and can be played virtually by anyone.

"There's adaptive curling and there's so many ways," said curling club member Amy Herrmann. "There's wheel chair curling. There's stick curling so if you really can't down on your knees, if you have knee issues or back issues, you can use a stick which connects to the handle of the curling stone. So there's all kinds of different ways to participate if you have limitations."

Not only can the sport be played by almost anyone, but Lappen said that it is more aerobic than people think.

According to Herrmann, players walk about two and half miles during the course of a game - which typically takes about two hours.

Other members of the club expressed similar thoughts.

"It's not a hard physical sport but it does give [you a workout] with the sweeping," said member Jack Lee.

In order to become a member of the club, prospective members first have to first attend a three-hour Learn to Curl clinic - the next of which will to take place on Sunday, Dec. 9 - to familiarize themselves with the strategies, rules and equipment associated with the sport. After they have completed the clinic, they may then join the club, Lappen said.

The team members compete against one another in a pick up game style format - a fact that Lee says he enjoys about the sport.

"Being a club we don't have other teams we play against. We just play against ourselves. Everybody shows up and everybody does it. It's great," he said. "You make teams and off you go. Everybody's pretty much the same level and we just have a good time with it."

To find out more about the Equinox Curling Club or the upcoming clinic on Dec. 9 visit the club's Web site at Information about the club can also be found on Riley Rink's Web site


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