Those who play in BGCC’s regular leagues are required to be members of the club. Club membership provides voting rights at our two semi-annual member’s meetings. Club members are also eligible to play as substitutes for no charge in any of our regular leagues.
Club membership includes membership in our national and regional curling associations. Membership in the United States Curling Association (USCA) provides benefits for both individual curlers and for the BGCC. Curlers receive the USCA’s publication, The Curling News, and also become eligible to compete in national events. The club benefits from USCA programs, such as Instructor’s Clinics and Ice Making Clinics.
The club participates in national governance through our membership in the Great Lakes Curling Association (GLCA), which sends representatives to the USCA Board of Directors. In addition, the GLCA organizes regional playdowns for curlers seeking to compete for various national championships. The GLCA also coordinates a circuit of bonspiels at clubs in the region.
There is also an option for club members to become a member of the United States Women’s Curling Association (USWCA). Despite the name, the USWCA is open to both women and men. It sponsors various events, including bonspiels and the annual All-American competition.
The club has access to the curling ice on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday evenings. In 2013-14, there was a beginner’s league on Tuesdays from 7 to 9, two leagues on Wednesday from 6 to 8 and 8 to 10, and one league on Thursday from 8 to 10. The number of leagues offered in 2014-15 will depend upon demand, but we anticipate that we will add a league on Thursday from 6 to 8, and perhaps run two leagues on Tuesday evenings. Leagues begin in late October and are divided into two 8 or 9 week sessions. There is a break over the holidays, and the season ends in late March or early April.
In addition, this season we offered a 6-week Jump Start league in September and October on Tuesday evenings from 7 to 9. Unlike other leagues, this league did not use the Ice Arena’s lounge. We plan to offer this league again in the fall of 2014, and may offer a second Jump Start league on Wednesday evenings if there is sufficient demand.
Curlers sign up for leagues as individuals, as teams, or as groups of 2 or 3. An Intent-to-Curl form is sent to all curlers and prospective curlers in September. Drawmasters (the club member in charge of the schedule for each league) create the actual teams based on member’s requests, and they make an effort to honor requests regarding the composition of the teams. At the same time, the drawmasters try to balance the teams in their leagues. Consequently, they may discourage teams consisting solely of beginners or teams that have too much experience, depending on the relative competitiveness of the league.
The club’s goal is to have leagues consisting of 6 or 7 teams. Six teams can play at the same time, and we aspire to not have any empty sheets. In a league with 7 teams, one team will have a bye each week. In addition, teams take turns providing post-game snacks for the league. Snack duties are generally assigned by the drawmaster.
Almost everyone misses a week of curling now and then, but it is important to both your teammates and your opponents to ensure that there are enough players on the ice every night to complete the scheduled games. Normally, it is the responsibility of individual curlers to find subs if they are unable to curl in a particular week. For those new to club, more experienced curlers can help you to locate subs. Substitutes must be paying members of the club unless alternative arrangements have been made in advance with the drawmaster.
The fee to become a member of the club in 2014-15 will be $70. This covers the full season and is billed at the beginning of the season. This fee pays the club’s USCA and GLCA dues and pays for additional club expenses, such as equipment to maintain the ice.
There are two options for league fees. Those who play in only one regular league pay $195 per half season. Those who play in two or more regular leagues pay $250 per half season. You can choose to be billed once for the entire season at the beginning of the season or in separate payments for each half season. The club rents the ice and the lounge from the BGSU Ice Arena, and the league fees are designed to cover these expenses. The Jump Start league is separate and will cost $90 per curler.
There is a $70 discount for new curlers in their first season in the club. There is a $70 discount for youth curlers.
In early September, the club hosts the annual Black Swamp Stomp Bonspiel. This is a two-day tournament that includes teams from BGCC and other clubs in the region, and even a few teams from Canada. The dates of the bonspiel correspond to Bowling Green’s annual Black Swamp Arts Festival. The club always needs lots of volunteers to assist with this event.
The club also participates in the annual All-American. This is an event sponsored by the USWCA designed to promote women’s curling in the United States. It generally consists of 3 or 4 games of curling over two days in March or April. All participants must be members of both the BGCC and the USWCA. Men are allowed to participate, but there are rules that limit male participation.
There are also some events that occur irregularly. Generally, in February, the Tuesday night league hosts the President’s Day Bonspiel. It opens the league on one evening to all curlers in the club and plays some curling games with unusual twists. We also encourage club members to grow Lincoln beards for the event. BGCC also occasionally participates in “friendly” bonspiels with other curling clubs, where members of one club compete in a one-day event against members of the other club.
In addition to curling, there are several social events on the club’s calendar. The spring member’s meeting is always followed by dinner and an award’s banquet. The club holds a Christmas party in early December. We have also participated in the Bowling Green Holiday Parade, and there is generally at least one social event held during the summer.
All club members should receive a free club name tag during their first year of curling and can order a replacement (for a fee) if needed.
BGCC also has club pins. Each new member should receive one pin, and others can be purchased. Many curlers like to trade pins with members of other clubs – so if you do decide to participate in events outside of Bowling Green, you may want to carry a few club pins with you to trade.
In 2013-14, a new club jacket was designed. These are high-quality fleece jackets. Members will have opportunities to order these jackets again in the fall of 2014.
The BGCC was founded in 1968 shortly after the opening of the Ice Arena in 1967. Club members have competed at numerous national championships, and a team from BGCC won the 1981 Mixed National Championships.
In 2010, the Ice Arena underwent renovations, and the curling ice was converted to mixed-use ice. This means that the curling club now shares the ice with skaters and can only curl from Tuesdays through Thursdays during the regular season.
The leadership of the BGCC consists of its Board of Directors. There are 6 elected members, each of whom serves a 3-year term. Two new board members are elected at the annual member’s meeting each year. In addition, the Board appoints a Treasurer, who serves on the Board, and each league appoints a representative (typically the drawmaster) to serve on the Board. The Board then selects a President, a Vice President, and a Secretary from among its members. These officers serve renewable one-year terms. There are also members who serve in positions that are appointed by the Board and report to the Board, but are not automatically members of the Board. These include heads of various committees and the club’s representatives to the GLCA and the USWCA.
Committees and Volunteer Opportunities
The BGCC is a 100% volunteer organization, and we rely upon our members to make the club function. The club is always looking for volunteers to perform a variety of roles. These include things such as planning social events and cleaning up at our bonspiel, as well as longer commitments to things like publicity, instruction, and ice-making.
The club has three USCA certified instructors, but you do not need certification to provide instruction. The club always needs help at Learn-to-Curl sessions, beginner leagues, and club members also instruct the occasional group that rents the ice (for a fee, which then goes to the club.)
Ice making is a complex process. There is a process of preparing the ice for each league, which involves sweeping and pebbling the ice. This can be done in five to ten minutes. Some of this is very simple, and help with simple tasks, like sweeping the ice with the sheepskin, is always appreciated. Pebbling the ice is very easy, but you should not attempt to pebble the ice if you have not been instructed on how to do this properly. In addition, we have volunteers who prepare the ice (using the Ice King machine) on Tuesday mornings. This generally takes from one to two hours. Using the Ice King requires more training, and most members are unable to help on Tuesday mornings. However, if you have the time and the inclination, this is an essential task, and one for which the club struggles to find volunteers.
Curling outside of the Club
A bonspiel is a curling tournament, but most bonspiels are more than just curling. Most bonspiels involve food, drink, raffles, and off-ice entertainment. Bonspiels may last anywhere from one day to over a week – though 2 or 3 days is typical.
Bowling Green hosts the Black Swamp Stomp Bonspiel in September, and most of the clubs in our region also host at least one event during the season. Many club members also travel to southern Ontario to play in bonspiels, and summer bonspiels (often called “summerspiels”) provide a rare chance to curl during the off season.
There are several types of bonspiels. An open bonspiel allows teams consisting of any combination of men and women. There are also bonspiels exclusively for men or for women. A mixed bonspiel has a very specific requirement. Each team must consist of two men and two women, and positions on the team must alternate between men and women. There are also bonspiels exclusively for youth curlers and senior curlers. Five-and-under bonspiels are geared toward newer curlers. These bonspiels are limited to those who have curled for five years or less and permit newer curlers to compete against those at similar levels of ability.
New curlers should make an effort to experience bonspiels. They are tremendous fun, and they are a great opportunity to play on different ice and to become part of a larger curling community. You will experience some excellent curling at bonspiels, but most of the bonspiels in our region are not so competitive that new curlers should feel discouraged from participating.
More competitive curlers have opportunities to compete for national championships. The GLCA hosts four playdowns each season: Men’s and Women’s Club Nationals, Mixed Nationals, and Youth Nationals. Teams compete against other teams from the region, and the winner goes on the national championship. For Club Nationals, all of the members of the team must be from the same curling club. This is not a requirement for Mixed and Youth nationals.
There are also championship events that do not have playdowns. Teams may simply sign up and go. These include: Senior Nationals (for both men and women) and Mixed Doubles. BGCC curlers are also eligible to compete in the Arena Nationals, which are exclusively for clubs using ice that is shared with skaters (as opposed to clubs that play on dedicated curling ice).
This list does not include the Men’s and Women’s Nationals (a separate event from Club Nationals). These events lead to world championship events and have their own rules and playdowns.
BGCC keeps brushes, step-on sliders, delivery sticks, and stabilizers for club use. Curlers are welcome to use this equipment, but it must remain in the Ice Arena. Most members will choose to buy their own equipment at some point, and this will be necessary if you ever travel to curl at other clubs.
There are general types of curling brushes: synthetic brushes and horse hair brushes. Most curlers prefer the synthetic brushes. Be aware that the synthetic heads should be cleaned frequently and replaced periodically. Horse hair brushes will last longer, but if a brush starts shedding hairs, it should be discarded.
Curling shoes are a major investment, and, in the long run, they can improve your game dramatically. If you are considering curling shoes, discuss your options with experienced curlers before buying. Unfortunately, there are no curling stores anywhere near Bowling Green – so nearly everyone purchases shoes online.
Curling shoes come with grippers (sometimes called anti-sliders) that cover the sliding surface when you are not delivering. Some new curlers have found these useful to wear over tennis shoes to improve their traction on the ice (particularly when sweeping), and they are relatively inexpensive and can be purchased separately. This is an option to consider if you are not ready to invest in curling shoes and find yourself slipping on the ice.
Curling is a sport with many rules that (nearly) all curlers follow. Some are universal, whereas others vary from region to region, or club to club. Here are some things that you should be aware of.
- Shake hands with your teammates and opponents before or after every game and wish them “good curling.”
- Never distract your opponents.
- Be off to the sides of the sheet and out of the way when the other team is delivering.
- If you are in the house or behind the house, stand still and hold your broom horizontally when the other team is delivering.
- Play reasonably quickly.
- Arrive and be ready to curl on time.
- Be ready to throw when it is your turn.
- Stay out of the house if you are not the skip or vice (exceptions can be made to this rule in league play on occasion).
- Vices are responsible for agreeing on the score. Everyone else should be out of the house.
- If there is a measurement, the vices are responsible.
- The vice of the scoring team generally hangs the points on the scoreboard for that end.
- Take responsibility for keeping the ice in the best possible condition.
- Sweep debris off the ice.
- Never clean a dirty broom on the ice. Leave the ice area to do this.
- Keep your hands, knees, and other body parts off the ice surface when possible. Hands and knees melt the ice and leave indentations, which can affect shots.
- Thrown the rocks in order. This is not a rule, but it ensures that each player delivers the same two rocks each end.
- Clean the running surface of the rocks before delivering. Use your hand – not a dirty broom head.
- Socialize with the other team in the lounge after the game when possible.
- Sit at a table with your teammates and your opponents – generally this should be the table that is closest to the sheet you played on.
- The norm is that the winning team buys a round of drinks for the losing team, and the losing team buys the second round
At BGCC, the vices flip a coin to determine which team gets the last rock in the first end. In some regions, this is done by the leads. At competitive events, this is often determined by a pre-game draw to the button.
Time does not allow for pre-game practice. However, many curlers do take a practice slide immediately before the game. If you choose to do this, slide without a rock and quickly move out of the path so others may slide.
The norm at BGCC used to be that curlers would “pull” rocks for their opponents. For example, the red lead would find the blue lead’s rock and set it near the hack before delivering his or her own rock. This was considered to be a courtesy, but most club members no longer do this.
The rules for breaking ties are set by the drawmasters. At BGCC, this is usually a draw-to-the-button by one member of each team. You may sweep your own team’s rock, but not your opponent’s. The first team’s rock is removed before the second team delivers. Closest to the button (and in the house) wins.
There are alternatives: A league could play a 4-rock end in which each player delivers one rock instead of two rocks. A full extra end could be played. (This is how ties are broken in competitive events.) Generally, time does not permit this, but it might be used for a league championship game.
Shaking Hands Early
The team that is behind always has the right to concede the game. This is done when the skip decides to shake hands with the opponents because he or she does not believe the team can realistically come back and win the game. This happens quite often at all levels of curling from league games to the Olympics. The decision always belongs to the trailing team, and there is nothing wrong with completing a game just for practice in most circumstances.
There are a few exceptions: Some bonspiels are “points” bonspiels and may require all ends to be completed. It would be discourteous to continue a game that cannot be realistically won if you were participating in an event that was running behind schedule or if you know that the other team must play more games in a short period of time and could use the break. Lastly, hand shakes are expected as soon as a team has been mathematically eliminated. Thus, if you fewer stones either in play or left to deliver than are needed to at least tie the game, the game should end without the remaining rocks being played (unless both teams agree to continue).
Curlers in general and the BGCC in particular are very welcoming. We love the sport and enjoy introducing it to new people. The club membership ranges in age from 15 to nearly 80. There are competitive curlers and those interested primarily in the social side of curling.
We are competitive, but certain things are frowned upon in virtually all curling clubs. No one trash talks their opponents or smashes their brooms in anger over a missed shot, and everyone congratulates their opponents when they make a good shot.
Like most established clubs, there are a few BGCC “traditions” that get introduced to new curlers gradually. “Newfie curling” is harmless, but be wary of “the Judge.” We even have our own singer-songwriter who will occasionally entertain us with his original curling-themed songs. And, we have lots and lots of trophies.