Anyone who has ever wanted to try a sport that has been featured during coverage of the last two Winter Olympics will have that opportunity on Oct. 3 from 2-6 p.m. when New Jersey’s only dedicated curling facility hosts an open house.
Eric Blassneck is the membership chair at the Plainfield Curling Club. He started curling shortly after seeing it during the 2002 Winter Games and has been hooked on it ever since.
Blassneck said, “During the past two Olympic cycles, we have had huge numbers of people show up to try curling during the Olympic Games. But this open house lets people try it right at the start of our year. If they like it, they can learn the basics, join the club and play the entire season.”
According to a press release, experienced curlers will provide instruction and the club will supply all the equipment that is necessary to get on the ice. Participants should wear or bring warm clothing that is either loose fitting or stretches — sweats are a good option. A very clean pair of sneakers is also required and should be brought in a separate bag rather than worn to the club.
After the open house, newcomers will get further experience and preparation for league play by signing up for four Learn to Curl sessions. The Learn to Curl program runs throughout the month of October. At the end of it, participants will know the basics of throwing the stone, sweeping and game play.
“Even the very best players are always learning new things on the curling ice,” Blassneck said. “But after our Learn to Curl program, novice players have the confidence they need to participate in games and really start to enjoy the sport.”
“Both the sport and our club are very welcoming to newcomers,” said club President Dean Gemmell. “The overwhelming majority of the people who come to our open house and complete our Learn to Curl program join the club.”
Currently, the club has more than 150 members and league play occurs every weeknight, Saturday night and Sunday morning from the end of October through the beginning of April. The club also hosts four bonspiels —curling-speak for tournaments — throughout the year.
“Curling is both an athletic challenge and a lifetime sport,” Gemmell said. “It is certainly not as easy as the elite players at the Olympics make it appear, but it is a game that offers a way for every skill level to participate. It can be a terrific recreational pursuit for people from 8 to 80 and beyond.”
The Plainfield Curling Club is at 133 McKinley St., South Plainfield. For more information about the open house, visit the website at njcurling.org, contact the club at 908-668-9460, or email Eric Blassneck at EmanBC@aol.com or Dean Gemmell at firstname.lastname@example.org.