Although the 2022 Winter Olympic Games have come to a close, members of the Augustana community can still be found curling here in Sioux Falls. Curling became a medal sport in the Winter Olympic Games in 1998, and according to Willette Capers, can be thought of as “shuffleboard on ice.”
Capers, the assistant dean of students for diversity, equity and inclusion, said she was excited to learn about curling in Sioux Falls. She had grown up watching it in the Olympics and thought at the time, “I’m going to try that one day. I’m going to be good at it.”
Capers is a member of the Sioux Falls Curling Club along with many other Augustana faculty and staff members. Capers’ team, The Golden Curls (after “The Golden Girls”) is made up of Emily Zimmer (applications and scholarships coordinator), Jenna Bump (director for housing operations) and Kelsey Thomas (assistant director for customized programs).
Another curling team is made up of professors Lindsay Erickson (math), Lisa Babcock (psychology), Daniel Perry (math), Michael Rueter (Spanish) and Carrie Olson-Manning (biology).
The teams play once a week at the Scheels IcePlex, and each curling game lasts about an hour and a half. According to Erickson, their curling games have six ends, which are similar to innings in baseball.
Capers, Babcock and Erickson all said they got involved in curling by attending one of the Learn to Curl events that the Sioux Falls Curling Club hosts.
Although she had never curled before, Erickson was eager to get involved after attending her first Learn to Curl event five years ago.
“I had a blast and have been doing it every season since,” Erickson said.
One of Erickson’s favorite parts of curling is the comradery it inspires. According to Erickson, there is a universal tradition in curling called broomstacking, in which the winning team buys the losing team a beer after the match. Erickson said broomstacking is a great way to get to know fellow curlers and encourages an environment she describes as “lighthearted.”
“You can be competitive on the ice, and when you’re off, it’s really spirited and fun,” Erickson said.
Babcock began curling about seven years ago, and said one of her favorite things about curling was that it was a great way to meet new people.
Another one of her favorite aspects of curling is attending curling tournaments, or bonspiels. Babcock has attended several bonspiels in Fargo and the Twin Cities, and she said they are great opportunities to connect with other curlers and play in official curling facilities.
Capers, Babcock and Erickson all recommended that anyone interested in the sport should attend a Learn to Curl event.
“If you’re interested in trying it, do it, because it’s super easy to pick up, and it’s really fun,” Erickson said. “It’s not an intimidating sport at all. The people who do curl are the friendliest people and super encouraging.”
The spring curling season starts in March and goes until May.
“It’s truly all ages,” Babcock said. “All abilities can get involved, and for anyone who is interested in it, I definitely encourage it.”