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// FLASHBACK: 1998 OLYMPIC WINTER GAMES In Te Good Old Days “I’d like to think all of us back then helped spearhead some of the early


USA Curling efforts,” Schoeneberg says. “As we had successes, people came to know more about the sport and it helped raise the awareness.” “We were probably at the beginning of the movement that has brought


curling to where it is today,” she adds. Now, there are fans, TV coverage, and events like the Continental Cup held in the U.S. (where 50,000 fans attend in a weekend). Conditions for the athletes were different, too. Back then, there was little


or no funding. Many of the curlers were working full-time jobs while trying to get time off to compete as well as to train. “I think that started the period of increased expectations. We were expected to intensively train, work hard at it, travel around the country, and travel around the world to compete,” says Schoeneberg. “It was tough,” she continues. “Telling your boss you’re going to Europe again. Or, I’ll be out again next week. Employers tried to be accommodating, but balancing work, with family, with travel was dif- ficult. Tere were no Home Depot-type programs like some of the athletes can take advantage of now. I probably missed my dad’s birthday at least 10 years in a row.” Tese days, she says, thank goodness there is at least more support. But,


either way, then or now, Schoeneberg declares, “It’s a big commitment to be an Olympic-level athlete.”


Capable Teammates Schoeneberg, a USCA Hall of Fame member, led a team of very capable


curlers to Nagano. Erika Brown, the vice skip, went on to the 2014 Olym- pics as skip. Debbie (Henry) McCormick, the second, skipped the USA’s 2010 Olympic team and was a member of the 2014 and 2002 teams. Lori Mountford, her lead, was inducted into the USCA’s Hall of Fame last year for her curling achievements. Stacey Liapis, the team’s alternate, went on to the 2002 Olympics and played against Canada in the medal round with McCormick and their teammates. Te formation of the team was Steve Brown’s doing, reveals Schoeneberg.


“He suggested we get together and make a run to get to the Olympics.” Schoenberg knew Coach Brown already as she was oſten the sitter for


their kids when he and his wife would go curling. Tose kids? Erika and her brother, Craig, who went on to compete in the 2014 Olympic Winter Games. Additionally, Mountford and Schoeneberg attended high school together in nearby Poynette, Wis. Tey had been curling together at the Madison Curling Club when Brown suggested they do something big. “Ev- eryone knowing each other so well and being from the same club made for good team chemistry,” says Schoeneberg. Hard-Nosed Competitor


Prior to the 1998 Olympics, Schoeneberg had a number of successes, in-


cluding two silver medals at the Women’s World Championships in 1992 and 1996. So, when the Olympics came around, she was ready to rumble. Really ready. “I felt really good going into the event,” says Schoeneberg. “Unfortu-


e d


f g


nately, some things didn’t go our way and it took the wind out of our sails.” Ultimately coming in fiſth place, Schoeneberg laments, “I thought we could have medaled there and it was a disappointment from that aspect. Tings just didn’t go as planned. I’m a competitor, and I wanted to win.” “But,” says Schoeneberg “the Olympics was an experience of a lifetime


for me that most people don’t get.” For Schoeneberg, being laser-focused on the competition at hand in-


cluded leaving her mom and dad behind. “We made a family pact,” re- members Schoeneberg. “It was nerve-wracking for them to watch me play.


Which meant it was nerve-wracking for me while playing. So, it wasn’t fun for them or me. We agreed they would stay home and I would call them with updates.”


Post Olympics Shortly aſter the 1998 Olympics, Schoeneberg stopped curling for the


most part. But she still loved being around sports. Not too long aſter her Olympic experience, she was chosen to be curling


coordinator for the 2002 Winter Games in Salt Lake City. Although it involved a move from her native Wisconsin, Schoeneberg


says she loved the job. Te people organizing the curling competition didn’t really know a lot about curling, offers Schoeneberg. In fact, the event man- ager was actually a gymnast. “So, I was able to provide them some, I think, valuable assistance. “ In that job, Schoenberg recruited volunteers who knew curling to fill


such roles as officiating and teaching people about the game. She worked with the World Curling Federation to ensure the venue was set up appro- priately for curling. She also worked with all departments of the organizing committee, including food and beverage, logistics, event services, law en- forcement, transportation, accommodations, etc. Finding herself perfectly suited for the job, Schoeneberg says, “I was able to utilize the curling con- nections I had made at the national and world level to get it done.” She also loved Utah. “Probably the most underrated state in the U.S. And, I made a lot of close friends,” remarks Schoeneberg. Adept at the job, Schoeneberg was asked to be the overall competition


manager for curling at the next Olympic Winter Games in Torino, Italy, in 2006. She followed that up with a trip back to Italy when she was asked to perform similar duties at the 2010 Men’s World Championship in Cortina. “It was an easy decision when they told me it was in Italy,” she said. Even though she loved doing the event organizing, it took its toll. Among


other things, it required moving to the event location for an extended pe- riod. “I would probably do it again if asked, though, depending on where it was,” she confides. “I might go back to Italy or Europe. I especially enjoyed my time there. Tere are so many different countries there that are easily accessible by car or air.”


Happy in Madison For now though, as she approaches 60, she takes things a bit slower.


Schoeneberg manages a sports memorabilia store called Name of the Game. Based in Madison, Wis., they sell all things related to the Wisconsin Bad- gers, Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers. Being an avid fan of all three, she’s in heaven. “My commute is one mile,” she raves. “I love it!” And, Schoeneberg says proudly, “My store gets run just like an event!” Her family time is spent mostly with her mom, Kathleen, and three sib-


lings – Tom, Maureen, and Patrick – as well as the nieces and nephews that come with them. And Schoeneberg adds, “Two great-nephews!” She also cherishes her good friendships that she has made around the


world, some of which go back 30 years or more. Friends are important to her, but, you have to be a Badgers/Packers fan to hang out with Schoene- bergs. Clearly, Schoeneberg eats, drinks, and sleeps sports. “I’m a big sports fan – I love any sport. I was in a sport that wasn’t a big one at the time. I have the utmost respect for anyone who is trying to do their sport, regardless of what it is. I admire the commitment that athletes make,” she asserts. Schoeneberg’s fellow curlers admired her own hard-nosed competitive-


ness during her playing days. “She set the bar high, pushing teammates and competitors alike to be the best they could be,” states Ann Swisshelm, two- time Olympian. As Debbie McCormick summarized, Schoeneberg “was tougher than nails.” Q


USA Curling (( 13


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