And now for something completely different. Author and pro beach volleyball player Travis Mewhirter joins the show to discuss that sports’ growing pains since joining the Olympics. How alike are the two sports? Well, beach volleyball joined the Games around the same time and features self-formed teams in a tour-based system. They even had a player boycott in the 90s. We’ll learn about their successes and challenges and how we can apply them to curling.
Bobby Torres from the Curling Club at Penn State joins us to discuss his recent Growth of Curling Survey. It’s a fascinating look at how real curlers feel curling clubs can improve. We talk about learn-to-curl opportunities, marketing to the next generation and the unorthodox ways his club is attracting new members. Also, Jonathan and Ryan settle-up on their bad beer bet with the Game of Stones podcast.
If your curling club doesn’t have an email newsletter, it should.
This doesn’t mean that you occasionally email the members of your club to let them know that registration is open or that snow has canceled that night’s games. A good email newsletter does inform, but it also strengthens the connection between members and the club and turns your potential members into new curlers.
Social media is a great tool that allows for authentic communication between your club and the community, but email marketing is where you can turn casual followers into members. According to OptinMonster, 60% of consumers have made purchases as the result of a marketing email, compared to 12.5% on social media. In addition to this, curling clubs are already at an advantage because “hobbies” and “sports” have some of the highest open rates and click through rates across all industries.
It’s easy to start including email as part of your curling club’s marketing plan and use it to help grow your membership numbers.
We have two special guest hosts this episode: Ontario-turned-England curler Rob Retchless and English junior curler Felix Price. Rob talks changing affiliations to England, Ontario’s curling scene and prioritizing life and family over curling. You may remember Felix from our etiquette episode. He’s back to help Ryan make fun of Jonathan, preview the World Mixed Curling Championship and talk about licking rocks.
We take you around the curling world in interviews with Trevor Gau of Triangle Curling Club, Joël Retornaz of Team Italy and J.D. Lind of Team Japan. Find out how Triangle went from curling on hockey ice to their own dedicated facility and the get a taste of the state of the sport in Italy and Japan. Thank you to Trevor, Joël, J.D. and the folks behind the scenes at Curling Night in America, including Terry Davis, Rick Patzke and Price Atkinson for helping make this possible.
By Mark Steinwachs of Rocket City Curling Club
Welcome to my inaugural post for Rocks Across the Pond. It’s interesting starting a new blog. What do you say to hook the reader from the start? What will make them want to read past the first few lines? I can tell you one thing, it’s probably not a series of questions. So, let’s get right into it shall we.
For the first (of hopefully many) Rocks Across the Pond blog posts I want to take time to talk something crucial to every curling club … volunteering. Don’t roll your eyes at me, I know you’ve heard it all before. But the reason you’ve heard it, and I’m leading with it now, is because it’s critical for clubs.
For those of you new to the sport (and some of you that have been around but need a reminder) I’m about to tell you something important. Curling is far more than just the time you are on the ice. I’m going to say it again for the people in the back.
Curling is far more than just the time you are on the ice.
What does that mean (And we’re back to questions. Sorry.)? I’m going to take a look at this from the perspective of an arena club. Before you can throw the first stone we need to:
- Pebble, nip, and brush the ice
- Set the hacks
- Get out scoreboards
- Get the stones in place
- Set up tables
- Grab the club gear
- Put up sponsor banners
- Still get a few minutes of pre-stacking in (we curlers are social creatures)
- Oh yeah, and if you play in a rink where the houses aren’t painted in you need to mark those out too.
Ice time is at a premium and it isn’t cheap. It’s a struggle to find ice and get decent times. Every minute counts. If you are playing in a league or coming to a drop-in session it is imperative you arrive early to help set up and stay late to help tear down. This. Is. Not. Optional. You need to build this into your curling routine. Each club will have a time they start setting up, but if you don’t know 20-30 minutes is a safe bet (I’m personally a 30-minute guy).
One arena club I play for has four sheets (three of which are used for our Sunday league and the fourth is a weekly Learn to Curl.). The six teams that play the early game set up. The six teams that play the late game tear down. That’s twenty-four people per! Amazing!
But (we all know this never ends well) of the 24 that should be playing, probably a team or two will only have three playing that week. Then because real-life happens another four or so people will have things that stop them from being there early. From 24 we are down to 18(ish). Still, we’re good!
Something funny happens at this point, and I’ve never been able to figure it out. From the 18 left, there will be four to six people who are always there early (me being one of them). The rest will filter in between the time we are supposed to start setup and when we are finished.
Maybe you’ve gotten there early and it didn’t seem like you were needed or you just always run a little bit late to everything (I don’t buy that, FYI) or you think there are too many people (that’s never the case). Sorry to break it to you, but nope.
What I’m getting at is there is no reason (other than the aforementioned life-happens kind of stuff) not to be at the rink early to set up or stay late to tear down.
There is a saying that floats around: “If you’re early, you’re on time. If you’re on time, you’re late.” If setup is 30 minutes prior to the game, guess what? That means you need to be there and ready to start setting up at that time, not walking into the rink, getting a drink, using the restroom, getting changed, etc. Doing all of that can eat up 10-15 minutes of precious ice time.
After 700-something words, where are we at? (Besides learning that this guy likes asking questions). Looks like we haven’t really talked about teardown. Methinks that, and more, will be for the next post.
If you’ve read this far, you know that curling is far more than showing up and throwing stones. Everyone who plays has a responsibility to the club (and yes, the sport) to take part in everything that makes the game happen. If you didn’t realize that, well, now you know.
Until next time…
“When hell freezes over, I’ll curl there too.” — Author unknown
Saskatchewan has long been one of curling’s hotbeds. But is the sport in trouble at the grassroots level there? Brady Lang from 650 CKOM in Saskatoon joins us to talk about the state of curling in Saskatchewan, what’s contributed to the decline in number of curlers there, what’s being done to reverse those trends and the optimism that’s been inspired by Robyn Silvernagle. Editor’s note: 30 minutes after the recording of this podcast, Ryan realized that Brady and Jonathan were saying “Ski-Doo.”
We are joined by Felix Price from Team Sugden (the junior team Jonathan coaches) to talk about curling etiquette. Three generations of curlers discuss when and how to teach it to new curlers with in-depth discussions on pace of play and the burned rock rule. All this plus the latest curling news, including the end of the Curling World Cup.
We give a lot of love to the USA Curling Arena Nationals and recount all of our previous failures at it. We then preview every team at this year’s event and interview Travis Geiser of the Chester County CVB and Dave Rosler & Dave Kolibaba of Ocean State Curling Club. If you enjoy this podcast, please leave a review and tell your friends to check out the show. Good curling to everyone in West Chester!
Topics: We preview the World Mixed Doubles Curling Championship with England’s Anna Fowler. Anna and her brother, Ben, are the first English team to be accepted to the British Curling program. She talks about how she got into curling, what she likes about mixed doubles and what it took to become part of Team GB. Also: Big names at this year’s championship, how mixed doubles grows the sport and how the discipline is evolving now that it’s part of the Olympic program.