Like many Americans, Lawrence resident Jeff Heck always looked forward to watching curling during the Winter Olympics. After watching the ice sport during the 2006 Winter Games in Turin, Heck said he was fascinated and called USA Curling to inquire about the possibility of starting a club in Fishers.
“At the time, the stones cost $1,000 apiece and it took 16 to field two teams,” Heck said.
“Also, you had to find a place that would allow you to paint the houses in the ice and everything that went with it.
“So I said ‘Thank you’ and went on with my life.”
In 2007, Heck saw an ad promoting a learn-to-curl event at Pan Am Plaza in Indianapolis. He attended and was hooked. Circle City Curling was founded in 2007 by Butler University and the former Indiana World Skating Academy. Heck became president in 2008 and served in that role until 2010. He was president again in 2013 and 2015. He has also served as treasurer, vice president, league commissioner and board member. of the club.
Now he’s just an active member.
“We are a 501c3 nonprofit organization, and our mission is to promote and grow the sport locally,” Heck said. “Right now we are renting ice time at the fuel tank at Fishers. Ice time is hard to come by, so we can only play one night a week, which for us is Friday nights from 6:30-10:30 p.m.
Because the Winter Games in Beijing begin this month, Heck said the club received a lot of attention and had to adjust its Friday schedule.
“We have our league game for our members from 6:30 to 8:30 a.m. and then in the last two hour slot we offered to learn how to curls, which is an introduction to the sport,” Heck said. “When you attend a (learn to curl event) you will get off-ice instruction/history, followed by on-ice instruction and a game.
“We provide all the necessary equipment. Participants just need to dress for the interim in their mid-40s and wear clean athletic shoes and loose clothing.
Heck said the club offers anglers the chance to learn an unfamiliar sport that also boosts the local economy.
“It provides revenue to local restaurants because a lot of curling is what’s called ‘broomstacking,'” Heck said. “Basically, when we’re done playing, we go out to eat and drink at a local establishment. If we run two leagues in one night, that means 60-75 people are spending money in the local community. Curling is a very, very social sport. It also offers the opportunity to bring national and regional curling events to town.
Heck said he hopes the club can host Curling Night in America at some point.
“This is an event where great teams from around the world come to the United States and play for a week at a facility,” Heck said. “It’s usually done in the summer, filmed, and then aired in the fall. The host city would obviously benefit from hotel stays, restaurants and notoriety.
Heck said the age of the club’s players ranged from teenagers to players in their eighties. He said sport is for everyone.
“If you have trouble with your knees or just can’t bend over to deliver a stone, you can use a delivery stick,” Heck said. “You stand up, step forward and push the stone, kind of like a puck delivery. We also have wheelchair delivery sticks. It is open to all. »
Heck said the main goal of the club is to promote fun and eventually provide a club team with an Olympic opportunity.
“Because we are a member club of USA Curling, we are part of the Great Lakes Curling Association. Our members can form teams to play in U.S. regional curling championships as well as national events,” Heck said. “If four men or women make a team, or one man and one woman for mixed doubles, and win the right tournaments, you can go to the Olympics from our club.”
The club is also a popular starting point for beginners.
34-year-old Carmel resident Mark Einselen started playing in October 2021 and said he’s been enjoying it ever since.
“Everyone at Circle City Curling Club has been very helpful to me in learning how to curl,” Einselen said. “I get useful tips on how to improve my technique every night. The more experienced players are very patient with me. The club intends to make curling accessible to new members. There are a lot of rules of special curling lessons, and they are very forgiving as I learn. The “Let’s Curl Clinic” and mini-league that followed gave me a pressure-free opportunity to gauge my interest and test my skills on the ice.
Einselen said he likes curling to challenge his mind and body.
“I forget about other stressful things when I’m curling because it takes both mental focus and physical control,” Einselen said. “When I’m not throwing stones myself, I’m sweeping for my team members. It provides variety and allows me to actively participate in every part of the game. There is a surprising amount of critical strategy in curling, and the challenge of understanding the dynamic conditions of the ice ensures that I am never a passive observer. .
Two years ago, Tyler George visited the fisherman’s club. George is a member of the United States men’s team gold medalist Olympic curling team in 2018. He organized a meeting with the public.
“It was a great night. He brought the gold medal, posed for photos and chatted with those who came out,” Heck said.
Circle City Curling is working on opening a facility in Anderson where it can play seven days a week instead of just Fridays.
“We found a space that fits our budget and will begin construction and renovations soon,” Heck said. “It will be a three-leaf setup and allow us to grow. We won’t be locked into a particular night and time, which means we can curl seven days a week, and hopefully we’ll grow the sport five times. We will be able to offer high schools to form teams and play, but also to universities.
“We can offer corporate team building events, and I would like to start a wheelchair curling league. The future looks bright. »
To learn more, visit circlecitycurling.com.
How to play
A curling rink is approximately 150 feet long and 15 feet wide. At each end large circles – or “houses” are painted on the ice. The object is to get more of your colored stones into the house closest to the center of the rings than your opponent.
Each team has eight stones and four players. The positions of a team are leader, second, vice and skip. Each player throws two stones alternately.
Once the stone is released, the skip reads the ice to see if the stone is on target and checks the speed. When the lead throws, the second and vice walk beside the stone and sweep in front, depending on the reading of how the stone slides on the ice. The stones will wrap, which means moving in a certain direction. Players can make a stone go straighter by swiping. The sweep melts the ice in front of the stone a little. When the stone stops, the other team throws their first stone. The process continues until all stones are thrown and a score is tallied.