Not just an Olympic sport: Curling

Teammates Rukavina and Cassidy pose for a team picture.

 The popularity of curling seems to grow when the winter Olympics are in session, but in reality, curling still goes on during the three years between the games.

Even though the closest curling arena is about an hour away, there are still many community members that make the trip to Centerville to curl.  Many of these people are teachers.

          Some students are aware that Spanish teacher Marc Rukavina is very dedicated to curling, but most probably were not aware that autos teacher Jeron Cassidy is on Rukavina’s team, or that Psychology teacher Anthony Boerger started curling when he was in middle school or even that many other staff members have tried curling with Rukavina, including principal Tom Chambers, social studies teacher Kris Wrobel, health teacher Shawn Moretti and elementary gym teacher John Thurow. 

            These people became interested for many different reasons.  Some because they had a friend that was involved, others because of the Olympic games and even more because it is what everyone around them was involved in.

            “Everyone likes winter sports up there (Rice Lake)” said Boerger who curled in middle and high school and his freshman year on the UW-Eau Claire curling team.

Although many teachers have tried it, not too many of them stuck with it.  This could be for many reasons.  It is a big commitment to be involved with a team.  The season goes from December to March.  Also, since the closest arena is an hour away, you have two hours of driving to get to your match.  On top of your driving time, each match lasts two hours, or more. 

            “Sometimes our games don’t start until 8:30,” said Rukavina.  “After the match you are expected to socialize with the team, which means that (sometimes) I don’t get home until midnight.”

Rukavina and Cassidy are on the same team for the curling league that they compete in on Wednesday nights.  Both Rukavina and Cassidy have quite a few years of experience curling in a league, as Rukavina has been participating in a league for 10 years and Cassidy for six.  They have been playing together on a team for quite some time.

On their team, Rukavina is the skip and Cassidy is the second.  For the people out there that aren’t very familiar with curling, there are four players per team; the positions are lead, second, third and skip.  Each person gets to throw the rock (this is the point where the person is seen in a lunge position with the rock) two times per game.  The four positions have different responsibilities.  The lead and second have to have strong sweeping skills and have good judgment.   The third (sometimes called vice skip) needs to be good at communicating, as he needs to be able to relay information to his teammates.  He also needs to be able to execute many different types of shots.  The skip is the team strategist; he needs to have a vast knowledge of the rules. 

The skip is a team leader, but not everyone likes the added pressure.

“The skip has a lot of responsibility,” said Boerger.  “When you mess up, the team messes up.”

Many curling players start to mature once they get a little older because they are able to handle the mental part of the game.  Some people claim that the game is 80 percent mental.  Players are able to improve once they become more mature.  But this doesn’t mean that people can only curl when they are older.

“We see 7 year olds all the way up to 70 year olds curling,” Cassidy said.

Wrobel agrees entirely.

“Curling is a great lifetime sport.” said Wrobel.