The past decade for the sport of curling has been a period of significant growth in the United States. With 149 of 165 clubs reporting membership rosters so far in 2011, USA Curling reports close to a 19 percent increase in total membership in the past year. Even better, since the 2001-02 season, USA Curling’s membership has grown 53 percent from 10,805 to 16,512!
The excitement of the 2010 Olympic Winter Games coupled with TV exposure on NBC’s networks has created a significant jump in membership across the U.S., according to figures tabulated by Sandy Robinson, USA Curling’s controller and numbers maven.
Fifteen new clubs became members in the past year — a 9 percent increase — with the Grand National region accounting for eight new clubs. Of the 149 clubs reporting, 105 reported a membership increase, equating to more than 70 percent. The sport has now found a home in 38 of 50 U.S. states.
It has become a common theme: Olympic coverage of curling creates curling craze across the U.S. As NBC embraced curling on its networks and aired every draw of action from the 2010 Olympic Winter Games in Vancouver, the sport once again was a winner in the hearts of newfound fans eager to pick up a broom and throw a stone.
The problem for some, however, is finding a place to curl when no club even exists in your entire state. The eager folks in Atlanta, embraced that challenge. They went to Facebook and created an interest group and then traveled to Knoxville, Tenn., and held a curling camp. Even more excited now, they went back home and formally started a club, got accepted by the Grand National region and became USA Curling members.
Same goes for the folks in Florida, who wanted curling to return to the Sunshine State. After the 2002 Olympic Games, Florida enjoyed a brief period of curling but the club in Sarasota soon dissolved. The excitement continued after the Vancouver Olympics and Coral Springs, Fla., gave curling a new home. It helps that many Canadians have flown the coop to the warmer south to help the sport once again be present. The newly-formed Panthers Curling Club calls the Saveology Iceplex.
Did you know that the beautiful state of North Carolina now boasts three curling clubs? That’s right, in addition to the Triangle Curling Club in Raleigh, which has been around since 1995, there are now clubs in the Charlotte area (Charlotte Centre Curling Club) and Wilmington (Coastal Carolina Curling Club). Jump the border and you’ll find South Carolina’s lone curling club — the Palmetto Curling Club in Taylors, just outside of Greenville. Who said curling was just a northern sport?
I don’t know about you, but I am still dreaming of the Honolulu Curling Club. Who wants to volunteer to do some scoping out of the ice facilities? Yeah, me too…
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