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VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR


Like many club leaders, Mary Jo Hamilton can be found around the club working on a variety of projects, including (above) getting the committee organized to recover broom heads on the brooms used by community members.


2012, a facility with four sheets of dedicated ice opened. Te facility is used for curling from Oct. 1-March 31, then used for Fairground projects (his- torically a successful formula for Midwest curling clubs). Construction costs were funded by a major donation. Mary Jo added her


own fundraising skills as well. She headed the project to raise dollars for the club’s new rocks and new junior rocks. A yellow T-shirt, “Let’s Rock” campaign, solicited a $400 donation for one new rock (cost net of old rock trade in). Te campaign reached its goal in 10 months. Today, the Brainerd Lakes Curling Association is a thriving club with


201 members. Te BLCA successfully hosted the 2018 USCA Club National Championships. Doug Wolf ’s letter of support included these kudos applied to Mary Jo:


“Our leader, our inspiration, our friend. I’ve never met anyone like her – she gets things done, leads by example, fosters an inclusive environment and makes everyone feel comfortable, all while putting the club’s interests first.” Toni Czeczok’s letter added: “Mary Jo had the vision to host the Club


Nationals, and then when our bid was selected, chaired the event and used the ‘Minnesota Nice’ theme. She organized an officiating class, ceremonies, food, and more, and was at the club daily from 6 a.m. to make breakfast for the ice crew.” Mark Pfeifer’s nomination form included Mary Jo’s key role in develop-


ing a youth program at the club, leading several club committees, and hav- ing new curlers on her teams in two leagues. Here are more kudos mentioned by these three folks: Motivator of other


volunteers; cool style of leadership; runs spiels and more; heads First Tim- ers’ League; helped form Doubles League; instructor at club and at local schools; oſten cooks for others; and rental event coordinator.


Mary Jo happened to stop in at the USCA office in August – visiting a


relative in Wisconsin –which gave me the pleasure of a direct interview. She has an easy, confident friendly manner, which belies the drive she must possess to account for her success. Mary Jo Hamilton was born in Houghton, Mich., and raised in Hum-


boldt, Iowa. She first curled in Brainerd, then two years in Marshfield, Wis. She is an alumna of Iowa State University, where she majored in German. She received her master’s degree in library science at the University of Iowa, and rounded out her formal education with an MBA from St. Tomas Uni- versity in Minneapolis. Mary Jo’s husband, Mike Smith, also is an enthusiastic curler. Mary Jo


has four children. (“My son, Ethan Hamilton, volunteered as a timer the whole week at Club Nationals.”) I asked Mary Jo to comment on her award as USCA Volunteer of the


Year: “I feel strongly that (our club’s success) has been and is a club-wide effort.


We had a philosophy – you have to pay it forward. Don’t worry about your decisions – just consider how can you make it better for the next person who comes on board. It’s not about you – how can you make your club function better? We did a lot of debriefing at projects’ conclusion.” How did you find out about your award? “I was at a Friends of the Library


board meeting. Mark Pfeifer came up to me and asked me to read a bunch of papers—my nomination papers! It was really nice –no one blabbed in advance!” How very fortunate for the curlers of Brainerd, Minn., to have such a font


of energy, wisdom and determination as a member of their club! Congratu- lations, Mary Jo Hamilton. Q


USA Curling (( 13


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