Who says that selling spots for a bonspiel can’t be like a rock concert! The Great Smokey Mountains Curling Club in Knoxville, TN recently sold out all the spots for their 24 Team Bonspiel in less than 11 hours, through PayPal. Not bad for the Club’s 6th Bonspiel!
With the success of the 2002 Olympics in Salt Lake City, curling found its way to Knoxville, TN. In 2004, it became an official club. Sandra Takata, the Club’s VP and formerly from Etobicoke, Ontario, enjoys being part of the close knit family.” We have a nice mix of curlers, a third originally from Canada, another third from the Northern states and the remaining members from the local area. For people who didn’t grow up with the sport, first there’s an interest in being able to walk on ice and then, they learn the sport and have a lot of fun,” Takata comments.
Their first bonspiel attracted 22 teams and created awareness by emailing multiple curling associations. A number of Canadian teams came down for the event, held during the first weekend of June. “There was a certain novelty to be able to play in shorts and t-shirts,” Takata states. Since then, they’ve worked closely with Knoxville Tourism to help promote golfing, hiking and shopping at nearby outlet malls. The historical district has proven popular to visitors. The bonspiel finishes with a banquet at the Yacht Club.
While the Olympics in ’02 provided the foundation for starting the club, the recent Vancouver Olympics has helped in providing the growth. “We had a couple open houses during the games and had over 400 people check out the rinks,” Takata shares.
Great to see curling successes in the South!