It’s a sport that typically only gains attention during the Winter Olympics, but curling is becoming a more popular sport, locally.
It’s a pursuit that looks a little like shuffleboard on ice, with a splash of household cleaning.
And, there are opportunities to try your hand at it at AdventHealth Center Ice, at 3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd., in Wesley Chapel.
That’s the home of The Tampa Bay Curling Club (TBCC), which offers league play.
It’s also where people who are interested can give it a try, in Learning to Curl sessions.
“It’s a great sport because it doesn’t matter how old or how athletic you are, anyone can curl,” said John Drysdale, a hockey and curling coach at Center Ice. “A lot of people even do it as a date night — I know my wife and I do! It’s a very social sport, too. You can come out and chat, and interact with everyone, so it’s a very cordial atmosphere out here.
“So they come out thinking it looks easy on TV, and everything looks easy on TV, but they find out it’s also a blast to play.”
When Center Ice started the curling club in 2017, it came with a huge distinction: the largest curling club in the Southeast, even if Drysdale can’t remember the exact number it started with. However, the club has reached as high as numbers as 16 teams and 150 players.
“It’s something different,” he said. “It’s something unique and, in the time anyone does it — an hour to an hour and a half — they realize just how fun it is, too.”
The TBCC gains new members all the time, usually after they get hooked thanks to Learning To Curl classes hosted Saturday evenings before league play begins.
Cost is $30 per class, and Drysdale says he sees a lot of people trying it as a fun group activity, only to want to join the club, once learning about it.
“I guess it is a little like bowling,” Drysdale admitted. “A lot of teams, they’ll get here a little early, go up and get something to eat and drink at (the restaurant) Top Shelf, and then you come down and play.
“Then after the match, you go back up with all the teams and eat and drink some more maybe, then leave around midnight and the whole thing is very social — and a lot of fun.”
The Learning to Curl classes touch on the basics of curling, along with safety, etiquette and techniques. Teams of four slide a 38-pound to 44-pound stone, or rock, down the sheet that is 150 long and 16 feet wide, to the target, or house. Brooming techniques are taught, too, as they are used to speed up and slow down the stone.
While Learning to Curl is a very popular activity at Center Ice, Drysdale does admit every time the Winter Olympics coverage pops up, curling interest also increases.
“The Winter Olympics creates a boom (in participation) because there’s a lot of curling coverage during the Olympics, and sure, they probably showed it ironically back in the day, but it’s (well-watched now). People see it and they’re like, ‘Oh, I want to try that,’ and then realize, ‘Hey, it’s right here in Wesley Chapel!’”
Which is exactly how Mike Valentine, of the curling team, Athletic Calves, came from Clearwater to curl.
“It’s hard to find in Florida,” Valentine said. “I took a couple of classes of Learning to Curl and just got hooked. … (People) have no clue, really, (about curling) and you have to explain it to them. Sure, you’ve seen it on the Winter Olympics, but it’s harder and more fun than you see on TV.”
Other curlers didn’t need the Olympics to spur their interest.
Lutz resident Charles Lauricello, with the club since nearly the beginning, said: “I love curling because it’s like chess on ice.
“You’ve got to strategize a lot,” he said. “I don’t think people realize how much strategizing goes into curling, but I love it.”
Tampa Bay Curling Club
When: League play and practice is on Saturday evenings.
Where: AdventHealth Center Ice, 3173 Cypress Ridge Blvd., Wesley Chapel
Details: The Tampa Bay Curling Club promotes and supports the growth of the sport in the Tampa Bay and surrounding area. It provides education and training to curlers 15 years or older via instructional programs and league play. All experience levels are welcome, however, it is recommended curlers bring their own brooms and shoe sliders. Participants are encouraged to dress warm.
AdventHealth Center Ice also hosts Learning to Curl sessions prior to league play on Saturday evenings. Cost is $30 per class and new curlers are recommended to attend at least three sessions before joining the club.
Cost: $1,000 per team per season ($25 per player per game), plus there is an annual membership fee of $85 per player.
Info and registration: Visit TampaBayCurling.com, or email .
Published on September 14, 2022