(November 1, 2013) By Elizabeth Demers
Now in its fourth year, the 2013 - 2014 USWCA Circuit is off to a great start with 14 participating bonspiels. There is still time to enroll your women's bonspiel in the Circuit. Please contact Tracy Lawless, USWCA Circuit Chairwoman, or visit the Club Participation page.
Last year, 50 women joined in the Circuit, 30 of whom won cash prizes. Ironically, the overall winner for 2012 -2013 was Lawless, the Circuit Chairwoman. "It was a little embarrassing to win an event I was in charge of," she admits, "but my being involved in the Circuit for the past three years has boosted my enthusiasm for this program. I wanted to sign up for every bonspiel I could, not only to support the Circuit and the USWCA, but because these events are so much fun." Past winners include Shelley Pilon of Exmoor Curling Club, and Jennifer Stannard of Nutmeg Curling Club. Circuit participants can also win their regions. In 2012 - 2013, Stannard won the East, Star Pfiffner, from Madison Curling Club, won Wisconsin, and Maureen Guay, from the Saint Paul Curling Club, won the West.
The Circuit is not only fun, it fosters a spirit of "competitive camaraderie" among curlers. "Seeing many of the same women at bonspiels across the country creates a community of curlers," says Lawless. "Once you've been part of the Circuit, everywhere you go you find old friends, and make new ones. It's a great way to expand your curling universe."
While one signs up for the Circuit as an individual, to earn points participants must 1) register for the Circuit, 2) play in a Circuit bonspiel, and 3) curl with at least two Circuit members on the same team. "There are several advantages to having two Circuit players curl together," says Jennifer Stannard. "Requiring two players takes the emphasis off the individual and puts it back on the team, which is the essence of curling." Second, it creates opportunities for more women to be a part of the Circuit and share in its potential prize money. "If one woman joins to be the second Circuit person on a team and then really likes it, that's a win-win for that curler as well as the USWCA," Stannard concludes. Individuals can sign up for the Circuit with their regional chairs, Char Fitzgerald (East), Maureen Guay (West), and Lori Mountford (Central), and at the Individual Participation page.
Sponsors such as Hot Shot's, Gold Line, ESCO, Taco Bell, and Rock It Gurl, and Olympians Debbie McCormick and Pete Fenson show the support of the curling community for the event and women's curling. The entry fee for individuals is $50; prize money for the top winners has been in the $1,000 range, so the more bonspiels a curler signs up for, the better chance she has to recoup her initial investment.
Finally, the Circuit supports a higher level of competition by encouraging women's teams to play together in a season-long event. "If you are playing down for club nationals, the USWCA national bonspiels, or have other long-term competitive goals, the Circuit will help get your team ready," says Lawless. "One or two bonspiels ofter aren't enough to work out the kinks in a team before a big event. Also," she adds, "curling against these top women's teams really ups your game."