With the Winter Olympics coming up in Beijing next month, some international attention will be on the sport of curling. It was originally a Scottish sport that is now popular at curling clubs across the country, including Central New York.
“All the way. Right down to it,” said Utica Curling club member Joyce Shaffer.
Shaffer is in her happy place when she’s curling. The competitive 79-year-old participates in open leagues at the Utica Curling Club a few times each week. It’s what she’s been doing for more than four decades.
“I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t curl. I’d be sitting home knitting. But, I don’t want to sit home all winter and knit,” said Shaffer.
On any given night, you can find numerous leagues with people of all ages here and it's a game that’s easy to understand. Put simply, try to get your stone closest to the button with a little help from your teammates.
“We’ve got curlers here right now, that are in their 60s, pictured here when they were in their 20s,” said Utica Curling club member Bob Caine.
Make no mistake, this club has its seasoned vets but there are always new players coming in. And if you think you’re a bit too old to start, think again. Caine, 85, plays twice a week.
“I think it’s a wonderful sport to get involved with. It is not a matter of, there’s no difference, in my view, curling as a senior, and curling as a younger person,” said Caine.
No matter if your goal is to have fun, get some exercise, or socialize, curling just may be for you. And if you take it from folks like Joyce Shaffer, curling is a sport that creates lifelong friendships.
“I feel like all curlers are like a family," Shaffer said.
A family with a love for a sport that can be played by all. The Utica Curling Club will hold an Olympic Curling Open House on Saturday, February 12.