Club brings first competitive curling tournament to Lincoln

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Video by Hannah Schmidt

On Friday night, eight curling club teams from six states met for Lincoln’s first ever competitive curling tournament. 

The Nebraska teams present — Creighton University, Wayne State University and the University of Nebraska-Lincoln — were accompanied by teams representing the University of Oklahoma, North Dakota State University, Denver University, the University of Minnesota and the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point. 

UNL Curling Club social chair Tucker Loosbrock attributed this out-of-state participation — which, for the squad from Wisconsin-Stevens Point, required an eight-and-a-half-hour drive — to the uniquely cooperative culture of the sport. 

“It’s a gentleman’s game,” Loosbrock said. “There is no trash talking or rooting for the other team to fail. It’s definitely very cooperative.”

Loosbrock, a mechanical engineering major who had never tried curling before he joined the UNL Curling Club, did not participate in the two-day tournament Friday and Saturday at the John Breslow Ice Hockey Center. Rather, he and club president Logun Gunderson ran the tournament from off the ice.

“I do really wish I could be out there, but we have to make sure everything goes smoothly,” Loosbrock said.

Between weekly practices, monthly tournaments and Sunday trips to Omaha for in-state practice matches, making sure things go smoothly for the UNL Curling Club can be a challenge. 

Club Coach Nancy Myers helps lighten that load.

Myers facilitates events, practices and fundraising — one of the most daunting tasks for the club. 

The club’s fundraising, managed by its executive team in coordination with Myers, regularly faces obstacles to the team’s budget. The stones — the 42-pound objects that are slid across the ice during gameplay — cost $320 per stone, and each set contains 16 stones. 

“Until last year, we had two sets,” Loosbrock said. “Last year, we made a huge fundraising push through donations to buy another two sets.”

“They were used, but in good condition, and we had to drive them from Milwaukee,” he said.

On the first night of the tournament, family and fans of each of the eight schools packed into the Breslow Center. At the entrance was a white picnic table with a sign reading “Suggested Donation: $5” next to a jar of folded and crumpled bills. There were crewnecks and t-shirts for sale, each printed with the UNL Curling Club logo.

Among these fans were David Weed and Brandon Rickard, who came to the tournament without connections to any of the teams. They were just there to watch some curling.

“I’ve only ever seen curling on TV during the Olympics,” Weed said, “and I thought it’d be awesome to come out here at least once during my four years of college to check out the UNL Curling Club and see what it’s all about. 

“It’s pretty cool, and I wish I could be out there right now.”

Luckily for Weed, he might be able to get out on the ice sooner rather than later. 

The UNL Curling Club has 26 total members, 18 of which are on one of UNL’s two competitive teams. They added nine members this year. 

“We welcome anybody to come try out curling,” Loosbrock said. “The beginning of the fall is our busiest recruiting season.”

The tournament wrapped up Saturday afternoon with UNL2 winning the fourth event final against the University of Minnesota. UNL1 lost in extra ends — curling’s equivalent of overtime or extra innings — to North Dakota State University, placing them in second place.