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CLUB NEWS // ZAMBONI TRAX Curling on the Mississippi


By Brad Whitlock, U.S. Curling News columnist, brad.whitlock@outlook.com


or the notorious three feet of “negative ice” on the sheet nearest the boards. Tose distractions are nothing, though, when


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compared to the novelty of curling on the Missis- sippi River. We’re talking barges floating by, ice being “harvested” next to your curling sheet, and darn chilly temperatures. Now those are chal- lenges an arena curler can get into – and they do so mightily at the Cedar Rapids Curling Club (CRCC).


We’ll Curl Anywhere For them, curling on the Mississippi River in


the wintertime is just another in their many ef- forts to bring curling to the masses in Eastern Iowa. Te iffy ice conditions and distractions aside, Phil Burian, club president, says cheerfully about their participation in the Mississippi River Ice Fest last January, “it was a beautiful day – 15 degrees, sunny and no wind.” Tis is just the way their club operates – they


like to have FUN! And, they love to spread the word about curling by outreaching to the com- munities in and around them. Obviously, they’ll curl pretty much anywhere


that will have them. Tey even flooded some ten- nis courts last winter in nearby North Liberty and curled outdoors in the evening, under fire- works, to promote the sport and their club. Tey have also made inroads to the communi-


ty through charitable events. Tis summer they ran a very successful United Way fundraiser that netted close to $6,000 for the charity. Corpora- tions in the area entered teams in a mini-spiel


rena curlers bemoan when their ice has an errant Zamboni track (or two), a leſtover divot from a hockey skate,


format that started with club members teach- ing them how to curl. Coaches were assigned to each team and stayed with them throughout the bonspiel. Te entry fee for each team went to the United Way and the club generated a lot of good- will. “United Way made money while our club made friends in the community,” says Burian. Curling for Credit


Lon Peper, vice president, tells of another foray


into the community underway through the local community college. “We’re offering a five-week curling class for continuing education cred- its at Kirkwood Community college this fall.” Adds Kari Kozak, events coordinator for CRCC, “We’re trying to reach the college students in the area. We have at least six colleges within driving distance of the rink.” As expected, they were very busy during the


Olympic crush earlier this year. “March and April were insane,” she explains. “We ran 13 Learn To Curls and nine corporate events. And, it hasn’t stopped. We already have five corporate events scheduled for the fall.” As with most arena clubs, getting ice time is the challenge. Cedar Rapids normally gets one


night a week from their arena to curl. Kozak negated that issue for the Olympics by booking ice time months in advance knowing that the club likely would have a huge influx of people and they would use up that time. “Secret ice time” she calls it and it turns out she was right. Tey pushed through 1,000 people in those two months and used every single time slot she had booked. Community Vibes


Te local television cable company took notice


of the club’s recent summer bonspiel – Te Ced- arspiel – when they broadcast the finals through- out the Cedar Rapids area. It was a very profes- sional production, Burian said. “Tey brought in scaffolding and the whole works to make sure they did a good broadcast of the event and the sport.” Te only thing they were missing was people


who knew curling and could do the play-by-play. So, much to Burian’s chagrin, he became one of three announcers for the event (the other an- nouncers were Adrian Evans and Gwen Engen, also CRCC members.) Rumor has it they all had a lot of fun in the end. Tey’ve even got the attention of the local


Convention and Visitors Bureau whose website features CRCC in a nice video under the “Tings to Do in Cedar Rapids” category. Although Cedar Rapids is a fairly young club


(started in 2013), they’ve found ways to connect to their community and are hoping for a big, long-lasting impact with their efforts. Tey’ve curled outdoors on the Mississippi River and curled at night under fireworks. What’s next for Cedar Rapids Curling? Surely they’ll come up with something to have fun – maybe curling in the Antartic? Aw, heck – what about the moon? Don’t put it past them. Q


As part of our coverage of arena club curling, I


like to profile occasionally arena clubs who are do- ing interesting and innovative things. If your club is interested in talking about your activities or ef- forts, please drop me an email at brad.whitlock@ outlook.com.


USA Curling (( 17


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