From WCCC to WCT – Interview With Matt Galas

 

WC Curling

 

Image Credit: WCT

Image Credit: WCT

29015Matt Galas is the Vice President of Windy City Curling and a founding member. He is about to take his curling game to the next level, joining a competitive team that plays on the World Curling TourStarting with the St. Paul Cash Spiel this coming weekend, Matt will be playing lead for Team Bret Jackson. Before he left for St. Paul, I caught up with Matt for an interview.

 

Image Credit: SPCC

Image Credit: SPCC

Most competitive curlers got into the game in childhood, or their teens at the latest. Your experience has been different. Tell us about your background and what got you into curling in the first place?

I got into curling by watching the Olympics.  My love started in 2002 when it was on at 3am… which was perfect timing for me coming home from the college bars.  My roommates and I were hooked.  But it wasn’t until the 2006 Olympics when I moved back to the Chicago area that they were on again.  Thats when we setup a group outing for 24 people at Waltham Curling Club.  That experience was AWESOME and the feeling of the curling community transformed 3 of us from that group into instant members.

You’ve played in various bonspiels, and twice represented Windy City at Arena Nationals. What made you decide to take it to the next level, competitively?

It’s something I’ve always been interested in but haven’t had the chance until now.  Luckily Bret Jackson reached out to me and in all honesty I couldn’t have said yes any faster (after checking with the wife and schedule of course).

Tell us a bit about your team. How did you come to meet/join them?

Bret Jackson is the mastermind… he played last year and was looking for some new team members for a run this year.  I played against one of his clubs (Lansing Curling Club) on numerous occasions and got to meet Bret at Arena Nationals.  The St Paul Cash Spiel will be the first time we are all playing together so I’m sure there will be some growing pains but I’m definitely excited and can’t wait to get started.

Your first event is coming up this weekend. What else is on your schedule for this year?

We are booked for Curl Mesabi in December and we are looking to add one more event before that.  The challenge round is in January and then hopefully if all goes well we’ll be onto Jacksonville for Nationals.

Do you have any personal goals for this season? Any specific team goals?

Honestly, not really.  I hope that we play well and enjoy curling together and have fun while doing it.  I think past that it’s hard to set goals as a team until we start working and playing together a bit more.

Do you have any pregame rituals/superstitions?

I’m not a superstitious guy at all…so outside of the good curling handshakes I can’t say that I have anything in particular.  Now postgame broomstacking is another story…

Best moment on the ice (besides getting to play Phil)? Worst (besides having to play Phil)?

Any day on the ice (with or without Phil) is a great day.  I can’t say I have a worst day at all…sure, I’ll always remember the shots I missed or over/under swept on to lose the game, but they’re all experiences that help you become a better curler and teammate.

As for the best moment…honestly, this probably sounds a little cheesy…but there have been a couple times at Windy City when I look across at everyone playing that I get a little emotional.  Knowing how our club just started less than two years ago and seeing where it is now having 48 people playing on Sunday nights is just an awesome feeling.  And being on the ice and being a part of that is inspiring.  Now, don’t get me wrong… I hope to have another “better” moment I can point to in February but for now…I’m sticking with that answer.

Do you watch much curling? Any favorite players/rinks?

I watch it every chance I can, but its not nearly often enough juggling work and three kids schedules.  I will say I have about 40 hours of curling DVR’d that my wife continually asks why I keep.

One piece of advice you could give to any curler, what would it be?

Have fun.  Just go out there and have fun…learn as you go.  And ask a lot of questions every time you play.  Fellow curlers love to chat so buy ’em a beer and pick their brains for sure.

Thank you Matt for the interview, and good luck on the season! The St. Paul Cash Spiel runs from October 9 – October 11. Team Jackson’s first game is against Team Workin at 1:30 (Central) on Friday  10/09. Follow along at CurlingZone, and we will post updates via our Twitter and Facebook pages as well.

 

philC

Phil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

Want to contact Phil directly? Do you need a restaurant recommendation in Vegas?

prdarin@gmail.com 

LETR Plane Pull: Raising Money For Special Olympics Illinois

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Image credit: Special Olympics Illinois

 

The Law Enforcement Torch Run Plane Pull is a charity event that benefits Special Olympics Illinois. Teams of 20 compete to see who can move a 99-ton Airbus A300 12 feet in the shortest amount of time. Essentially, it is like playing tug-of-war with a massive airplane. I have been involved with this event since 2010, and this year I am proud to say that Windy City Curling is fielding a team. To get a better idea of what this event looks like, check out this video of my team from 2011:

This year’s event will take place on Saturday, September 19th at O’Hare International Airport. In order to participate, a team must raise a minimum of $1,000. Again, all proceeds from the event go to benefit Special Olympics Illinois. Last year, for example, 83 teams raised close to $150,000 for this cause.

 

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Image credit: Special Olympics Illinois

 

Our goal as a team is to raise at least $2,500. We need your help to reach our goal!

If you wish to contribute, you may do so via our team page at this link.

For more information on the event itself, check out the event page here.

 

philC

Phil Darin is Windy City’s resident armchair curler who even plays from time to time. He often loses on the ice, but he always wins at broomstacking. Would you like to hear more about curling, whisky, or gambling? Are you Eve Muirhead?

Want to contact Phil directly? Do you need a restaurant recommendation in Vegas?

prdarin@gmail.com 

One Year of Memories at Windy City Curling

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An overhead view of the first night at Windy City Curling.

Seems like just yesterday that everyone met at Windy City for the first week of curling. April 3, 2014.

And although everyone has their memorable points from the past year, I just wanted to highlight a few of mine.

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The Opening Night Cake

 

TEAM JEFF GALAS WINS THE FIRST LEAGUE

Despite personally throwing many stones through the house to actually getting stones in play, our team was able to take the first league championship.

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Windy City’s 1st League Champions: Jacob Widlowski, Dan Mulka, Simon Ganet, Elvis Presley (alternate) and Jeff Galas (skip)

 

HALLOWEEN

Although I personally spent most of the summer at work and had to miss a few months of curling, Halloween at Windy City was definitely one to remember. Well, when you see this Jack O Lantern … you know you are at home.

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Halloween Genius

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Halloween

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More Halloween

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Even more Halloween

 

NEO FROM THE MATRIX’S ‘SWEEPING’ SAVES US A POINT

I truly wish I had a photo of this, but I’m going to do my best to describe it.  And, maybe some Photoshop.

NEO

Fun with Photoshop

I was the Vice for Team Wolanik – and Andy was shooting the “Skips stones.” I was in the house, calling the line.

Our second, Nick Solka, is amazing on the broom – really putting his heart and soul into sweeping.

On this night … he slipped. Ended up on his back, in front of the stone. Now, from my angle, this all happened in super-slow motion …

He slipped in front of the stone – with him brook going flying sideways down the ice.

In a “hurting my back just thinking about it” moment – he went into a back bridge to have the stone go under him.

The stone makes it under Nick, bounces off an opponents rock and barely squeaks closer to the button for the point.

Now, if I remember right, we probably only took 2 points that game … but sometimes a shot like that can turn a severe butt-kicking into a memorable-in-a-funny-way enjoyable game.

Nick Solka was uninjured on the play.

BONSPIELS

For those really new to the curling world, bonspiels are curling tournaments.  I participated in a few different bonspiels.   The Prairie State Challenge, the ICA 5 & Under, the Big Spiel in Minnesota and the Dar Curtis.

My teams had some good luck, and had some bad luck (including one of my mens teams getting destroyed by a group of high school girls).  As arena curlers not used to dedicated ice, it took a while at each tournament to get used to our shots.  It made all of us realize how much we want our own dedicated ice.

Speaking of fundraising – have you bought a raffle ticket to benefit Windy City Curling?  Each ticket is $20, but gives you a 1-in-250 chance to win $1000!  We actually have 9 other cash prizes you can win.  For more information, click here.

Like how I worked that in?

But some of the best parts about bonspiels are hanging out with all of the other curlers, including both other Windy City members and members from other clubs.  You get to meet a lot of new people and hear a lot of great stories.

THE BIG SPIEL IN MINNESOTA

As I mentioned earlier, a few of us made our trip up to Minnesota to take part in their “Big Spiel.”  You know you are up for an interesting trip when the ride includes listening to a mix of French-Canadian country music and 90’s hip hop.

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The Pilot on the Trip to Minnesota

 

Curling-wise: our team was one game away from the finals of the 8th event.  This would be the equivalent of finishing roughly in 84th place of 96 teams.

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At Frogtown Curling Club – Pictured: Dan Mulka, Phil Darin, Greg Torkelson (skip) and Nate Bock (sub from St. Paul Curling Club)

 

Non-curling wise:  lots of food, lots of beer, lots of fun.  We all got to take in a Minnesota Wild / Chicago Blackhawks hockey game with the unbelievably cool, two-time Olympian Jessica Schultz (who I had interviewed earlier in the year for the blog)

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Pictured left to right: Lysa (Jess’ friend), Jessica, Dan, Phil, Greg, Greg’s friend

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Greg, Charlie Brown, Phil

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Linus and Dan

 

Food-wise:  This is just an excuse to put in a picture of Poutine (from Four Seasons Curling Club).

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Yummy ….

 

CLUB CHAMPIONSHIP

It’s funny how a season can turn.  Especially in the first week.

Curling in the club championship with Team Richardson (Josh Richardson, Chuck Justis and Dan Burrows) – we were down early in week one.  This includes a 5 point deficit at one point, and a 3 point deficit with two ends to play.  Thought the championship was out of reach.

We forced the extra end, took the game and never looked back.  We ran the table to go undefeated.

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2014/2015 Inaugural Club Champions – Pictured left-to-right: Chuck Justis (vice), Josh Richardson (skip), Dan Mulka (second) and Dan Burrows (lead)

 

IN CONCLUSION
A lot of hours, a lot of miles, and a lot of fun  From that first week a year ago until now, I’ve been hooked on the sport of curling.  For those who I’ve met on this journey so far – THANK YOU!  To Windy City Curling – THANK YOU!

For those looking for new stories and new friends – it’s time to join Windy City Curling.  Whether its a Learn to Curl or our Rookie Leagues … you will be the envy of your friends.  Stay tuned to WindyCityCurling.com for more events where you can get involved.

Trust me, it’s well worth it.

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The Club Champions of our Inaugural 2014-2015 Season: Team Richardson!

Congratulations to Windy City Curling’s inaugural Club Championship League winners, Team Richardson!  The Richardson rink swept the Championship League, 6-0, to take the title for our 2014-2015 season. Well played, gentlemen!

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Pictured (left to right):
Chuck Justis (Vice), Josh Richardson (Skip), Dan Mulka (Second), Dan Burrows (Lead)

Final Team Rankings
– 2nd) Team Torkelson (4-2)
Greg Torkelson
Anthony Steinmiller
Kevin Runge
Mitch Gerdisch

— 3rd) Team Stewart (4-2)
Greg Stewart
Anthony Intini
Doug Morrissey
Joe Placek

— 4th) Team Dooley (3-3)
Mike Dooley
Kurt Vogt
Noel Luchinski
Kelly Hemmingway

— 5th) Team Orisek (2-4)
Tim Orisek
Matt Moore
Kevin Vogt
Steve Bell

— 6th) Team Reithel (1-5)
Eric Reithel
Phil Darin
Jim Sakelakos
Donna Sakelakos

— 7th) Team Sweeney (1-5)
Paul Sweeney
Simon Ganet
Kent Steele
Brian Jenner

Congrats to all of the teams who played, and thank you for an incredible 2014-2015 season!

Just one more league left until we break for the summer… So sign up today!

Interview with WLRA’s Shane Gustafson

Windy City Curling’s own Eric Reithel was recently interviewed on WLRA 88.1 FM, The Start!

Broadcasting live from Romeoville, Illinois, WLRA gives the students of Lewis University the chance to create and broadcast their own radio shows for all to hear. News Director, Shane Gustafson, sat down with Eric to record an interview all about our club, our sport, and how new players can get involved.

You can listen to the entire interview above.