What the Ice Taught Me

Growing up in north central Wisconsin, winter reigned supreme.  Winter sports reigned supreme. We got

2002-2003 Wausau East Lumberjacks Varsity Girls Curling Team...oh dear...

2002-2003 Wausau East Lumberjacks Varsity Girls Curling Team…oh dear…

out of school early on Fridays to hit the local ski hill, the Badger State Winter Games were the highlight of the season. Kids were dropped off at school on the back of their parents’ snow mobile…heck, CURLING was a high school sport!  In the old Wausau curling barn, the ice taught me a lot of lessons that I carry with me both on and off the ice even today.  Here are top 10 nuggets the ice has taught me over the years:

  1. Honesty and integrity– the fate of a game rests on your word.  Unlike other sports, curling has no refs; the teams are left to their own devices to make the calls that could cost them the game, and at times it’s very tempting to not call a burned stone, or miss-call shot rock to benefit your team. But the thing that makes curling such a unique game is its spirit – its heart – that upholds honesty, integrity, and fair play above all things.
  2. Grace, the physical kind – you’re running, sliding, and throwing stones on an ice field for goodness sakes!  Curling isn’t a game of brute strength.  It’s a game of finesse.
  3. Grace, the feel-y kind – losing stinks in any game.  But after a curling game, win or lose, you’re encouraged to ‘broomstack’, or share drinks and laughs with the opposing team.  The quicker you learn to leave the game on the ice, the better time you’ll have.
  4. Teamwork – sure, there’s one Skip calling the game, but without the entire team of four working in unison, you’re looking at a train whose wheels have fallen off the tracks.  It’s all about team chemistry, knowing your teammates backwards and forwards and having each other’s backs game in and game out.  My teammates are like my family.  I know they have my back, and I, theirs.  Plus a good team dynamic makes the aforementioned broomstacking an ABSOLUTE blast!
  5. Communication – you know all that screaming and yelling you hear on the ice?  It’s not angry yelling. It actually serves a purpose, and a big one at that!
  6. Sportsmanship – it’s right up there with that honesty piece, but even more so.No heckling, no badmouthing, no overzealous celebrating when your opponent misses a shot, or when your team makes a shot.  It doesn’t negate a competitive atmosphere by any means, but there’s something to be said for subtly.
  7. Open-mindedness – curling’s one of those great sports where no matter how long you’ve played, if you let yourself, you can always learn something new.  Whether it be from your team, the opposing team, or that rookie who just stepped on the ice for the first time, don’t discount what you might be able to pick up.
  8. Adaptability – ice is a fickle strumpet; sometimes she’s fast, sometimes slow, and sometimes she’s fast, then slow and slightly askew. A perfectly executed shot might do the exact opposite of what you want.  Other times you’ll completely botch a shot and get lucky.  You need to know how to adapt.
  9. Practice excellence – like everything else in life, you can always improve your game.   Mistakes happen, the best learn from them.
  10. Have FUN!!! – this one goes without saying, right!?  It’s at the heart of the game, and in the heart of those who play!  If you can’t have fun, why’re you playing in the first place?