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.