Six students from DHS traveled to Seattle during the week of Jan. 27-Feb. 1. These students weren’t just taking a vacation; they were attending the Junior Curling National Championships.
Senior Alexis Schroeder and her sister, junior Sidney Schroeder, are a part of Midland Curling Club’s girls’ team. The two other girls who make up the rest of the team are Kayla Beaureagard of Lewiston, Mich. and Claire Visconti of Mayfield, Ohio. The girls finished seventh out of the 10 teams, winning three games.
Seniors Wes Pedersen, Aaron Carlson and B.J. Kent are part of the boy’s team. Junior Brandon Wichman went along, too, as an alternate for the boy’s team. The boys also placed seventh of the 10 teams, winning four games.
In curling, there are four positions. There is a lead, who is the person throwing the first two rocks. A second, who throws the second set of two rocks. A vice, who throws the third set of two rocks and who is responsible for stepping in when it’s the skip’s turn to throw. A skip is the last person of the team to throw the final two rocks. A skip has an important job to do for their team when they’re not throwing. They are responsible for creating a sort of ‘target’ for the team members when they are throwing. They also set up the correct handle which takes skill and correct execution for its intended purpose.
A handle determines which way the rock will spin when it is thrown down the ice towards the set of rings named the house. The vice does this as the skip is throwing their rocks.The target as well as its handle will ultimately decide where the rock will end up when it stops moving. The sweepers are the team members who are neither throwing at the time nor skipping.
There are typically eight to 10 rounds of a game, called ends. The object of the game is to get the team’s rock or rocks nearest to the center of the house, called the button, as possible to obtain points. Many times the skip or vice must be tactful in setting up the correct target and handle to knock the opponent’s rocks away from the button to open a space for their own.
While all of this is a lot to take in, the junior curlers have got it down pat.
“We were one shot from beating the team that [eventually] took gold,” Carlson said.
As Carlson looked back on his Nationals experience, he had one thing in mind he would like to change if he could.
“There was one game against a Minnesota team that didn’t go our way,” Carlson said. “I would want to play that game again and really focus on my delivery.”
Alexis took a different approach when reminiscing.
“I really wouldn’t change anything that happened at Nationals,” Alexis said.”The year before when we attended Nationals we played very poorly and ended up finishing in last place. This year was so much better. We won three games and there were so many people that were impressed with how we played and especially impressed with how much we improved.”
Alexis is the vice for the girl’s team and she had a bit to say about where she and her teammates come from.
“I think other teams and coaches were excited to see how much we had improved, because Michigan [and] Ohio [are] the most under-appreciated and least recognized regions in the USCA, the United States Curling Association,” Alexis said. “It made me and the rest of my team so happy to be able to represent our region so well.”
The teens didn’t spend the whole time in Seattle on the ice though, there was a considerable amount of down time when there weren’t any games going on.
“My favorite part about Nationals was meeting all of the other curlers my age from around the country,” Alexis said. “Our team became great friends with the girls’ team from Alaska and we ended up spending the whole week together hanging out and cheering each other on during the games. It’s so cool to me because, how many people can say they have friends from Alaska?”
Though the teams had different experiences, it seemed that there was something for them to take back home. Whether it was good memories, new strategies or simply curling gear, each team’s members look ahead for next year’s National Championships in Devils Lake, N.D.