The Shot that Brings You Back

Screen Shot 2014-04-29 at 10.44.29 AMI’ve been watching curling for probably a good 16 years.  If you’re like me, it was an addictive sport to watch during the Olympics at really odd times of the night.  Back in college, it would be a good distraction on that late-night-due-the-next-day paper that you really didn’t want to be working on.

And, if you’re like me, after the Olympics, you forgot about the sport.

Well, this past year … I decided to look up a Curling Club.  And came across Windy City Curling and a learn to curl.   I thought it would be easy, as I’ve played hockey for a good 20 years and knew my way around the ice.

We started out with a broomstacking session, which could be the greatest thing in sports.  Broomstacking is socializing with your fellow curlers, usually with a tasty beverage or two.    Then began the off-ice instruction about the basics of the game.  To be honest, I was ready for the ice.  I was the arm-chair curler, knew everything from several years of watching on TV.

Then we hit the ice.  True fun, but I didn’t know how much finesse that this game requires!  Sending a few screaming through the house, than over-adjusting and having stones burned.

It became my turn to be the skip.  Although we were rotating positions, I got to skip the final end.  We were keeping score, and tied going into the final end.  I took advantage of the time as skip, and tried to be as vocal as I could.  When else do you get to yell at people, and its expected.

I was seeing the movement of the stones, and my team was on FIRE.  We ended up with 4 rocks sitting in the house.  Probably all about 8-12 feet out.  It was my first throw, and I also had the hammer.

You get to a point in sports commonly referred to as being “in the zone.”  Everything else blurred out, the sounds around me muted, and the house looked HUGE.  I released the rock, and it was heading right for the house.  HOLY COW … HOLY COW … HOLY COW … the rock looked perfect.

It ended up settling about 10 feet out.  With the way everything was set-up, the opposing skip would have to curl to the button.  A simple knockout would have still left us up three.

On the outside, I remained cool, calm and collected.  Curling etiquette to a degree is like the etiquette that you show as being a goalie.  Save it for off the ice.

On the inside, I was doing backflips!  I’m imagining fireworks going off on the ice, heck, start playing the national anthem!

I look back, and the opposing skip had already released the next stone.  Once again, the silence creeped back.  Perfect weight, perfect handle.  Seemed like it took 20 seconds for the stone to make it to the house, perfectly curl around for shot rock.  About 6 feet out.

On the outside, I still remained cool, calm and collected.  On the inside, NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!  As you probably have noticed, I am a very competitive person.  I don’t like to lose.

So, the pressure is on.  Had to throw a in-turn handle to even have a shot.  My previous rock and the other skip’s shot rock were looking like beach balls.  I didn’t have a good take-out shot, because I could easily knock out my team’s stones with the way everything was set-up.  Had to draw to the button.

I released my stone, and I wasn’t in the zone.  The first second after release, I didn’t feel it.  Dropped my head for a second, as I was bummed.  Felt like the right weight, but just too far outside.

I looked back up, and the hammer was curling!  Wow, this looked like a legitimate shot! Could it?  Was it?  I couldn’t tell, but the coach from Windy City looked up.  I couldn’t hear it, but I could tell what the lips were saying.  GREAT SHOT.

I kept it cool, calm and collected … as both myself and the other skip went down to the other end of the ice.  I had drawn to the button!  My team won!

I shook hands with the other team, and walked over to the other skip.  “You had an unbelievable shot … that was awesome!” is what I told her.  I’m guessing she was about 10 years old, so she is going to grow up to be an awesome curler.

Myself and the older curlers returned to broomstack, and I just sat back with a big smile on my face.  I didn’t gloat (well, until now.)  I just knew that I would be coming back.  Now, I am curling on the league with Windy City Curling.  Fun times, friendly competition, and I’ll never forget the shot that brings me back.