Bowdoin’s curling team won the college state championship over the weekend, and now, with a 6 and 1 record, has its sights set on College Nationals, to be held in two weeks in Chicago.
This quirky and arcane Olympic sport has gained traction at Bowdoin over the winter. Each week, the team’s devoted students have packed their brooms and traveled an hour and a half to practice and compete. No stranger to the thrill of competition, Emily Neilson ’11, goaltender for Bowdoin’s three-time NCAA champion field hockey team, provides a closer look at Bowdoin’s curling team.
Several students from have found a new way to spice up the Maine winter-by joining Bowdoin’s new curling team. Every Sunday afternoon, a van takes them the more than 70 miles to Belfast to train at the only curling facility in Maine.
It was sophomore Carl Spielvogel’s idea.
“I had never done it before,” he says. “Watching the Olympics last year with friends I thought, you know what, we should start a curling team.”
Spielvogel called Douglas Coffin at the curling facility to discuss forming a collegiate curling league, prompting Coffin’s immediate offer to coach the Bowdoin team. Following Bowdoin’s lead, Colby and Unity College have also formed teams that practice and play on Sundays in Belfast.
Coffin hopes curling fever spreads further across Maine. “I would like, in time, for there to be a league among University of Maine-Orono, Husson, Unity, Colby, Bates, Bowdoin, College of the Atlantic and Maine Maritime Academy,” says Coffin. “That’s going to take some time, but this is a real start.”
Each Sunday, the Bowdoin team spends as much time studying strategy as they do playing. Spielvogel says the challenge is maintaining the necessary mental focus and balance for the precision involved.
“It is so complex that if even a hair falls into a stone’s trajectory, its path will change,” says Spielvogel.
Brushing the ice in front of the stone controls how much or how little a stone’s trajectory will “curl” around the blocker stones, hence the sport’s moniker.
In late February, Bowdoin is poised to send at least one curling squad to the Boston Collegiate Curling Tournament to compete against Harvard, Boston University, MIT and Hamilton. Four members of the curling team will head to Chicago in March to represent Bowdoin at the National Collegiate Curling Championship. Spielvogel will be on that team along with Margot Haines ’13, Andrew Hancock ’13 and Jay Tulchin ’13.
Spielvogel says many people are surprised to learn a Bowdoin curling team even exists. “Mostly they say, ‘We have curling here?’ I think people find it’s cool when I explain it.”
The team welcomes those interested to give it a try. There is no cost, and the team will provide the equipment as well as beginner lessons.
“We’d love to teach people of any age and sports experience how to curl,” says Spielvogel. “All you need is a jacket, some warm clothes and we’ll all hang out on the ice.”