Guest post by Martha O'Connor
On March 18-20, 2016, twelve intrepid Bucks curlers headed to the Schenectady Curling Club in Schenectady, New York, for the Elisabeth Childs Challenge, the Grand National Curling Club women’s five-and-under bonspiel. The theme was “Geek Chic Weekend," and all curlers were encouraged to let their geek flags fly! There were lots of Harry Potter references, super heroes, and even an epic show down between a Star Wars team and a Star Trek team. I forget who won (maybe I’m not as BIG a geek as I thought?), but the Star Trek team did win the first end. (“We drew first blood.”)
The Bucks County Curling Club teams were:
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Does This Count as Our Gym Credit?
Jesseka Kadylak Leonard
None of us came home with hardware, but it was a GREAT weekend spending time with other curlers while enjoying good curling and fun t-shirts and costumes. I did come home with a few new club pins for my collection. And, in what was an unusual draw schedule, one Bucks team was eliminated from the spiel by another in a Bucks vs. Bucks showdown, and another was eliminated by a Philly team, our sister club.
But, what DID we win?
BROOMSTACKING! Pins will last only until you lose them, but broomstacking memories last forever.
Guest post by Ian G. Sheffer
Snow, Ice, freezing temperatures. These are usually the things from which one seeks refuge during the dark months of winter, but of course curlers know better. We head north for the warmth of camaraderie and the thrill of the next bonspiel. And so the Bucks County Men's 5-and-under rink "All Bucked Up" -- with Dave Schmel skipping, "Good Ian" Sheffer at vice, Kevin "Captain Draw" Brady throwing second and Bert Tyler leading off -- headed north to the Rochester Curling Club in Rochester, NY.
The 77th annual Francis Dykes Memorial Bonspiel drew 40 teams from across the GNCC, with curlers coming from as far as the Panthers Curling Club in Miami, Florida. With this many teams, the tournament started on Wednesday night. Though our first draw wasn't until 9:00 a.m. Thursday, we headed up on Wednesday morning.
After winding through scenic Bucks County, we stopped for lunch at Aiello's in Whitney Point, NY. Located on the corner of Main and the other street in town, Aiello's has been serving authentic Italian cuisine for over 50 years. Having stopped there on the way to another spiel in Utica the week before, Dave was already chatting up the owner and fitting in like a regular.
Well rested from our evening at the exactly-as-luxurious-as-it-needed-to-be Best Western Inn at the Rochester Airport, we took the ice for our first draw against a Broomstones/Merrimack rink. Even with the pressure of being on the featured webcast sheet, we came out ahead. As happy as we were to chalk up a win, we were perhaps just as excited that a win put our next draw time at 9:00 a.m. the following day, allowing ample time to make sure that our brooms were well stacked!
Friday's game was against a team with strong roots at Broomstones. A spirited game left us the wining side again, and with some time before our next draw, Saturday at 5:30 p.m. With some time to kill and lots of curling going on, Dave took the opportunity to take the headset and provide his signature color commentary for the webcast.
During the Friday afternoon scrape of the sheets, we decided to head out into the city, to The Strong National Museum of Play. Home to exhibits ranging from doll houses to video games, the Strong was a blast. Our skip particularly enjoyed the Pinball machines. I was partial to the giant-sized Super Mario Brothers game and original arcade version of Pong, complete with knobs to move the paddles and 1970s yellow cabinet. We even got to see the earliest known Monopoly board, painted in the hand of inventor Charles Darrow. A fun time behind us, we headed back to the club to catch the late draws, cheered on the Philly rinks, and then home to rest up for our next draw.
Our Saturday afternoon draw against the Rochester rink "Legion of Broom" was perhaps the most stressful of the whole weekend. We'd beaten a team with matching shirts earlier in the week, but when The Legion won the flip, chose colour instead of hammer, and started throwing their stones out of the usual 1-8 order, we knew it was going to be a game more serious than most. A shirts team? Sure, we could take on a shirts team no problem. A home team with a rock book? Well, that's another thing entirely. We held on though, joking among ourselves to keep the mood light, and soon it became clear that though they were very serious curlers, we weren't exactly hacks in the hack. By the time the last skip's stone was up, their only way to hang in was a long double across the most of the house. Only one of their rocks was able to remain a counter, and we were on to Sunday at the Dykes.
Nine a.m. brought some definite nerves (no large Belgian waffle at the hotel breakfast bar for Dave today), and we headed to the club a bit early to get ready for our game. The Stoffer rink from Schenectady were clearly serious (I learned after getting the latest issue of The Curling News when I got home that they were the champions of the Schenectady 10-and-under Men's spiel), but they were a fun team to be in a game with, so we all breathed a sigh of relief. It was tight all the way, and in an early end we had just about every rock in play in a draw-fest of a dogpile at the back of the house. This managed to eat up enough of our time to cut us to our second seven-end game of the weekend, and the pressure was on. Fortunately, our skip came through in a clutch with an in-off double to take us into the A event finals. Our hearts were racing as we stepped off the ice to wait for the next draw.
We tried to rest and unwind as best we could, and as best we knew how. We all of course had a drink to take the edge off, and to hold us over until the ceremonial shot of Drambuie in honor of the piper. Eventually the pipes and drums worked their way to the club and it was game time. We would be up against the Fitzpatrick rink from Broomstones. They had matching shirts, too. We were all clearly nervous, but the tone in the warm room was relaxed, and we all quickly got the sense that it was going to be a fun game no matter what the outcome. Cheers to the spirit of curling.
With the drone of the piper carrying through the club, I got the lump in the back of my throat I always do with live bagpipes, and we took the ice. The first end was tough, but we all had the sense that this was not an un-winnable game. Broomstones took two in the first with the hammer. Not ideal, but an "acceptable outcome." End two, however, brought a much different outcome. Our second to last stone of the end over-curled unexpectedly. Our intrepid skip was drawing against four, so the timing was less than optimal. We came around the other side on our next shot, trying to avoid disaster, but it didn't go our way, and Broomstones was now up 6-0. Sure, I've come back from behind like that before, but an end like that takes the wind out of your sails more than a bit. We kept pressing though. Our skip did his best to boost our spirits with some spirits, and ordered a round of Jameson shots for us at the end of the fourth. We managed to find a few points in the sixth, scoring at least the moral victory, but after we only got one in the seventh, it was clear what needed to be done. Handshakes were had, and we headed off of the ice.
It's not an easy thing to loose the A event finals at the Dykes. It takes work. There's a hell of a lot that goes into it as a matter of fact. There's the run-up weeks and months where you play in league nights as much as your schedules will allow. There are the spiels you try to get into to warm up for competition with your team-mates. There's the long drive there (and the seemingly longer one back). There's the countless hours put in by the volunteers at the host club. There's the countless hours put in by the teams just like you who have the same idea to throw their hat in the ring. There are the matches you actually play in the tournament, where you fight and hope for the TV shot to actually hit the broom. There are the new friends you make after some games, and the old ones you catch up with after others. There's the heartfelt support of your family and friends, and your club watching back in their warm room, cheering you on. There's the ice crew, working in the wee hours to give you a surface to play on. There are your teammates, who are now much closer friends than they were the week before. There's the work you put in, getting better at the roaring game as best you know how. Oh, and one team or another gets their name on a plaque at the end of it. When you sit back for a second and think about it all, it's enough to keep you smiling like a fool through any number of ends, regardless of whose name ends up on the trophy at the end of the day.
Bucks County curlers are a fun and friendly group of folks. But who knew we had a budding lyricist amongst our ranks? Our very own Bert Tyler was struck by the songwriting muse recently and came up with a festive curling theme song (with thanks and apologies to Tennessee Ernie Ford, who wrote the original 16 Tons and to John Denver, who wrote the golf parody, 18 Holes). Now who's going to lend us his or her vocal chops to get this recorded? Dave...?
(sung to the tune of 16 Tons)
I'm on the hack, and what do I see?
My skip's yelling something and he's pointing at me.
I start my delivery but something goes wrong
I'm flat on my face 'cause my gripper's still on.
You throw sixteen stones, and what do you get?
Another day older, and colder and wet.
Now Satan is calling, but he'd better beware
'cause Hell's freezing over and I'm heading there.
I'll try this again. This is gonna be right.
I grab a red rock and line it up tight
My delivery is perfect, it's curling and true
And then I find out that we're throwing blue.
One more time. This is gonna be great.
I'm gonna show off my takeout weight.
It's on the broom. It's straight and hard.
It's really too bad the skip called for a guard.
The stones I'm delivering are really a sight.
They're inside, they're outside, they're heavy and light.
And then I throw one that really looks sweet.
Stops right on the button but on the wrong sheet.
I'm getting worn out by end number six
My legs are like rubber and I gotta (urinate).
My toes are frozen and my hands are all cold.
I'd sell my soul but it's already sold.
For the first time in Bucks County Curling Club history, we will be hosting the Women’s All-American Bonspiel, sponsored by the United States Women’s Curling Association. The All-American is a fantastic way for our club’s women curlers -- especially novices -- to enjoy a friendly and competitive in-house bonspiel experience without having to travel.
The USWCA helps cultivate friendly relations between women curlers and their clubs by promoting and preserving the traditions and spirit of the game. They have sponsored the Women's All-American Bonspiel at curling clubs throughout the country since 1966 and will provide the winners of our spiel with special pins. What a treat to be able to now offer this event at Bucks!
The Women’s All-American will take place on two consecutive Saturdays, February 27 and March 5, and registration is open NOW. Don’t miss out on what is sure to be a great time. I hope to see all you lovely Bucks ladies there.
(So that I can kick your butts.)
(In a friendly way!)
The 2016 Cracked Bell Bonspiel hosted by Philadelphia Curling Club was this past weekend (Jan 8-10). We had two Bucks teams entered into the draw and we stepped onto the ice together to play separate opponents Friday afternoon and both teams won their first matches. Saturday morning came and we both lost our second draw leaving us a one game break instead of three. We stepped onto the ice at two forty-five in the afternoon and again we both left as winners this set both teams for the Sunday morning early draw third event semi-finals. So early we rose and headed to the club for an eight a.m. draw. Team Pring was first to win with an early handshake meanwhile Team Philips played it out a full eight and took the win. The stage was set for Sunday afternoon and all Bucks curlers were guaranteed pins. Team Philips consisted of Joe Philips (skip), Cindy Bush (vice), Greg Danks (second), Jill Cardamore (lead). Team Pring consisting of Matt Pring (skip), Ian Sheffer (vice), Matt Gartner (second), and Kevin Brady (lead). It was a well played game by both teams with Philips being the better that day and earning the handshake after 7 ends.
I would like to thank all the Bucks folks who came out to support the club teams even though they weren’t playing. We had a great showing at the PCC and everyone noticed. One of the best things was being in the warm room, and not eavesdropping, but passively listening to people saying good things about our club and our members. People were asking about the bonspiels that we host and when they were. Some teams were planning on making one or both of our bonspiels. This was due to the positive way in which we represented Bucks and ourselves. Good job everyone.
Ian Alexander was our diligent host ensuring every minor detail was perfect. He even stayed the course after a few broken dishes tried to get in his way of finding pretzels for a table during broom stacking. There were 58 other PCC volunteers who helped make the event a good time. Preparing, serving, and cleaning up meals for a large group of people is a large investment of time and energy which they all did with great enthusiasm. To the Philadelphia Curling Club we at Bucks wish to say thank you for all your hard work and for making our visit enjoyable.
Who said curling is a winter sport? Bucks teams have been hitting the road!
The trail started with team “We drink to forget, so we pay in advance” at the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club’s Golden Gate Bonspiel in Fremont, CA. The team consisted of skip Zac Gery, former Bucks member Bob Foley, who now resides in Portland and is a member of Evergreen Curling Club, Dave Schmel, and Tim Wood.
The team did well in pool play, finishing tied for best record and placed second after tiebreaks. Then they rattled off three straight wins to bring home the second event medal! The final shot was in an extra end (after “strategically” blanking the 8th end) on a impossible draw to the button on heavy ice (the compressor had failed) It was a true team shot with Zac nailing the pin with Dave and Tim pounding it home. It had the crowd and broadcasters going wild!!!
The next away spiel was the Blazin Brooms of Blaine, a big 48 team spiel at the Four Seasons Curling Club. This spiel had great curlers, many national playdown teams, and Olympians Pete Fenson and John Benton. Needless to say the competition was stiff.
The team from Bucks consisted of skip Dave Schmel, vice Lyle Kerrick, 2nd Keith “Wiz” Wisbauer, and lead Barb Murphy. The team was graciously hosted by our occasional guest curler “Minnesota Pete” Alwin and his wife Angie. They were incredible hosts and have our utmost thanks.
It wasn’t the easiest go of it, but the team played three good games. While only winning one, valuable experience and friends were made, in fact one team from Chicago signed up for the Big Buckin Spiel right on the spot! The biggest irony came in the third game, when we played Pete’s team in a L-Out game. We jokingly had our bags packed in case we had won!
Now.. the road will move to Pittsburgh where many of our locals will be. While flying officially under the PCC flag, Bucks Curlers Mark Wheeler (last year’s 6th event winner), “Bad Ian” Alexander, and Nancy GVDH will be fielding teams. Flying under the Bucks flag will a team consisting of Erica Snarski, Dave Schmel, Matt Schultheis, and special guest from Potomac Spencer Stevens. looking to defend their C Event title from last year. Neville Island will never be the same!!
Thanks to "Super Fantastic" Dave Schmel for contributing this post.
The Competitive Tuesday Night League is holding up to the name. We’re going into the final week of regular season play and Team Schmel has already locked in a playoff spot depending on what the other teams do will determine if it’s the 1 or 2 seed. A win and they seal the number one seed. A Team Schmel loss and a Team Gery victory gives Team Schmel the second seed.With a Team Schmel(18pts) loss and a Team Alexander(14pts) victory over Gery then Team Schmel still holds onto the number 1 seed. Teams Niedrach, Gibson, and Alexander are all tied with 14 points and a victory will only give them 3 points.
Team Gery, Niedrach, Gibson, and Alexander are all in a win and in situation. An 8 end loss and they’re out, but here’s where it gets really exciting if both games go to skip stones, which we have had 2 games go to skip stones the same week in week 3, the outcome of who gets in between Niedrach, Gibson and Alexander is very interesting. Team Gery is a lock if they go to skip stones no matter what the outcome. If it does come to skip stones Team Schmel and Gery will be the 1 and 2 seed order depending on the outcome of Team Schmel game. If team Alexander wins a skip stone game against team Gery then the playoff picture will be Schmel, Gery, Alexander, and the winner of Niedrach vs Gibson. Here is the fun playoff scenario. If team Alexander loses to team Gery in skip stones then they will have 15 points, leaving the playoff standings Schmel, Gery, winner of Niedrach v Gibson, and the fourth seed. Now it gets crazy. If Niedrach/Gibson goes 8 ends win/loss winner stays loser goes and fourth seed goes to Alexander, however if Niedrach/Gibson goes to skip stones you end up with a tie for the fourth seed with team Alexander and the skip stone loser from the Niedrach/Gibson draw. In this case Team Gibson has a better record against Team Alexander with 2 wins during the regular season and Team Alexander holds 2 wins over Team Niedrach.
Now I don’t know about you but I got a little dizzy just figuring it all out and had to take off both shoes to help with the math. This Tuesday is shaping up to be a crazy night for the playoff chase. Good curling everyone and have a good week as well.
Check out the complete standings on the Tuesday Night League page.
Thanks to Calendar Matt for the guest blog entry.
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Friday was a festive day of curling, cards, chickens, and more here at the Crooked Billet. Check out some photo highlights below. Good curling, everyone!
The Crooked Billet kicked off on Thursday evening with two strong draws featuring some fantastic competition. Many of the games were nailbiters, coming down to the last few stones to determine the winners. We're updating the brackets in real time as much as possible on the Crooked Billet page, so check in there to keep tabs on how your favorites are faring this weekend. Competition starts again this morning bright and early at 9:00 a.m. We hope you drop by to catch as much of the action as you can!
For those who are visiting the Bucks County Curling Club for the first time, please note that while our ice is dedicated, our club is still located in an arena. We suggest that you dress a little more warmly than you otherwise might if you're planning on hanging out and watching the games, as the viewing area is right on the ice. But don't worry -- our warm room is quite toasty.
Also, remember to don your most spectacular headwear this evening for our hat contest. Winners of this highly subjective sartorial endeavor will be handsomely rewarded!
It's T-minus two hours until the first draw of our first annual Crooked Billet Bonspiel, and we couldn't be more excited to welcome 128 of the GNCC's finest curlers to our club for a weekend of good food, good fun, and good curling. We've been working hard to perfect our ice, prep a bevy of foodstuffs, and insulate our aluminium benches for maximum backside comfort. I'll be updating the blog daily with spiel highlights, so check back frequently!
Hi there. I'm Michelle, your blogmaster and a novice Bucks curler.