New Marquette Curling Club sees growth in popularity in first year

FROM LEFT, CRAIG WISEMAN learns as he watches seasoned players, Anthony Fattore and Hans Gottsacker sweep a stone towards the target during a curling club session at Lakeview Arena in Marquette. (Corey Kelly/Mining Journal photo)

MARQUETTE — The newly formed Marquette Curling Club is rocking it during its first year of operation, thanks in part to generous support from Northern Michigan University, Lakeview Arena and the Delta Rocks Curling Club in Escanaba.

A student reportedly approached NMU President Fritz Erickson last year about a need for a curling club in Marquette. Erickson agreed and was able to secure the funds to purchase 16 stones to get the ball rolling.

“NMU really pulled through on that, which is really awesome,” MCC Supervisor Kevin Kohtala said.

Lakeview Arena is giving MCC a discount on ice time this year and the Delta Rocks Curling Club is lending the group essential equipment, such as brooms, teflon sliders and hacks.

The club meets from 8 to 10 p.m. Eastern time Sundays at Lakeview Arena on the Olson Rink. There is a drop-in fee of $5. Interested participants should plan on wearing warm, loose-fitting clothing, light gloves and shoes with a grip. MCC provides participants with all the necessary tools to get started — stones, hacks, Teflon shoes and instruction.

Curling requires different ice conditions than ice skating or hockey. In addition to instructing, Kohtala helps “set the rink.”

“For curling in a arena, you Zamboni it, dry shave the ice, where you actually take the top layer off to make it a little bit more tacky, then you pebble the ice,” Kohtala said. “I then take a copper-headed pebble, backpack full of water — hot water preferably — and the hose shoots out tiny bits of water. That makes it so the rock is gliding on top of a thousand tiny little beads of water instead of sliding on a straight surface.”

The club’s following is slowly building.

“Right now we are trying to get the word out there to get people involved. Every week we have more and more people come out that heard about it from a friend of a friend and want to do it, or have done it,” Kohtala said.

The sport is accessible to many different types of athletic abilities, organizers said, and the club is welcoming to newcomers.

Professor Alec Lindsay of NMU’s Biology Department decided to bring his research lab students as a bonding activity.

“I just told them that we were going to have a ‘surprise’ outing tonight,” Lindsay said. “They were pretty geeked when they got here.”

Graduate student James VanOrman had this to say about the surprise: “All we knew was we were to bring a warm sweater and get ready for anything.”

Kohtala hopes that one day interest in the sport will grow large enough that the club can become a competitive college team. MCC plans on meeting well into April but currently has no official end date to its season.

Contact Lakeview Arena for meeting times and information or email Tony Rabitaille at Idigcoho@aol .com.