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Kevin Hieronymus

Swept away by curling

Sheila Heth of Princeton went to her 40th class reunion at Ottawa High School last summer. While catching up with old friends, the topic of conversation came to the sport of curling. The more they talked about it, the more Heth became interested.

She was invited to attend the annual open house held by the Waltham Curling Club in Triumph, which happens to be the oldest curling club in the state. She stayed for the full four hours, and her words, was hooked.

Or do we dare to say, swept away.

“I signed up as a new member and for two mixed leagues,” Heth said. “I was taught the techniques, and then I practiced for hours before the season started and throughout the season whenever I could. Curling is a lot of fun, but it is also about finesse, strategy and camaraderie. It is also really good exercise.”

What is this game of rocks and brooms all about? Here’s a good description in a nutshell.

Curling is a sport in which two teams of four players each slide 40-pound granite rocks (also called stones) down a sheet of ice toward a target at the other end. Each team tries to get more of its stones closer to the center of the target than the other team.

Heth and her teammates recently placed second in the 4th event at the 2013 Blackhawk Women’s Bonspiel in Janesville, Wis. Sixteen women’s teams participated in the three-day event.

She plays lead for the Waltham squad, which throws the first two rocks of the end and then sweeps the next six. The lead must be a strong sweeper.

Teammates are Dawn Wilson of Ottawa playing skip (team captain, which deploys team strategy), Tara Keeling of LaSalle playing second (throws the third and fourth stones of the end) and Sharon Boda of Utica playing vice (has to be good at draws and sets up throws made by the skip.)

Heth says she was a good athlete in high school, but coming through in the early 70s she was a little too soon for Title IX. She was limited to participating in the old GAA (Girls Athletic Association), the precursor to competitive IHSA sports girls have enjoyed the past four decades.

This year’s open house is slated from 12 to 4 p.m. Dec. 7 in Triumph. Heth encourages anyone looking for something new and fun to come give it try. You might just become swept away.

Giving thanks: Take time out on this holiday to be thankful for what you have rather than be concerned what you don’t have. I’m thankful for each and every one of you who have read my column the past 27 years. Happy Thanksgiving to you all.

Kevin Hieronymus is the BCR Sports Editor. Contact him at khieronymus@bcrnews.com