Written by Ellen Hoffman
Thursday, 01 December 2011 15:25
When you think of winter sports, ice hockey, figure skating and skiing may immediately come to mind. But there’s a new game in town, and it’s growing in popularity.
Curling is similar to shuffleboard, but competition takes place on ice. A game based on strategy, curling is making its way into Northeastern Pennsylvania via the Anthracite Curling Club.
Maria Maas, a Dallas native and speech and language pathology major at Misericordia University, has been curling for the past year. Her dad, Kurt Maas, began a year earlier, earning its rightful place as a family-oriented sport.
“It was nice having my dad play because it’s something we can do together,” Maria said.
Kurt researched curling after the 2010 Winter Olympics and learned about the Anthracite Curling Club. They were holding an informational session, which immediately sparked his interest. Although Maria didn’t immediately jump at the idea then, she became more interested after her history professor, Alison Piatt, called her out in class. Piatt is the president of Anthracite, and when she recognized the last name on her attendance sheet, she encouraged Maria to give curling a try.
Since then, Maria has been curling in a league and has made it a family affair. Aside from the father-daughter duo, her cousin also curls.
“It was a nice big family thing,” she said. “And what’s good about curling is that anyone can do it. It doesn’t really matter your athletic ability, and that’s something I really liked about it.”
Now that she has the hang of curling, Maria is looking into attending more curling tournaments, commonly called Bonspiels. She participated in her first during fall break, in Philadelphia, and although her team didn’t compete as well as she may have liked, it gave her a great opportunity.
“Even though we lost that one, it was a nice experience to see how Bonspiels work.”
Maria is keeping her eye out for other nearby Bonspiels so she may have a chance to attend, especially if they are “five and unders” – Bonspiels for people with under five years of experience.
“Now that I went to one, I definitely want to try to do more,” she said.
Her experience in Philadelphia also helped her improve her weight distribution of the stone.
“It was hard starting out and trying to get the stone where you wanted it to go, but I’ve definitely improved on my accuracy.”
Learning how to use the broom to push the stone down the ice to the targeted location is the main part of the game. So after she got the hang of it, and distributed her weight properly, it became easier.
Although Maria is only a year into curling, she is interested in spreading the word and hopes other people will get involved. In January 2011, the Misericordia Curling Club was approved. Piatt sparked the interest of others in her classes, which brought the club into action.
“It starts with student clubs,” Piatt said. “And they’re really trying to grow a college community of curlers because it’s a great way to spend a Saturday night.”
Anthracite sponsors the MU Curling Club nights and they work together by supporting each other and the new curling members. Maria is the vice president of the club and works closely with Piatt to organize curling nights for other students on campus. She and other executive board members are responsible for organizing meetings and fundraising sales to help raise money and bring about awareness. Every other Saturday from 10 p.m.-midnight curlers are welcome at the Ice Rink at Coal Street for lessons or to simply give the sport a try.
“I think it’s good because we’ve gotten a lot of younger people involved, considering Anthracite Curling is usually older people,” Maria noted. “I think getting the next generation involved in the sport is important to help keep it alive.”
Maria and Piatt both agree that curling is a lifelong sport for all ages. They encourage everyone to try it as there is little athletic ability involved.
“Curling is a sport you can play when you’re five or 105 because what we can do in curling is make accommodations for all ages,” Piatt concluded.
For more information on curling, visit www.anthracitecurling.com or contact Alison Piatt at