Circuit Winners Enthusiastically Eye Upcoming Season

(October 10, 2014) by Elizabeth Demers, USWCA Circuit Committee

Teamwork and camaraderie characterized the 2013 - 14 USWCA Circuit race, with teammates tying for the winning spot in 3 out of the Circuit's 4 regions.  Overall and Wisconsin region winners Lori Karst and Dawn Nonn have curled together in the past, at various levels of competition.  Circuit membership added a competitive edge to their game.  Karst said, "We looked specifically for Circuit events, and for events we had not been to before, and even found ourselves talking to Bonspiel coordinators to convince them to put their events on the Circuit."  To win the Circuit, curlers accumulate points, but only the points from an individual's top three finishes count. 

In the Central region, teammates Tracy Lawless and Elizabeth Demers curled together in five spiels and posted three first event finishes, but come up short in a Circuit showdown in the Sippy Spiel first event final.  

Jean McCann split her bonspieling energy among several Circuit teams and coasted to West region victory with impressive point totals.  

Perhaps the most electrifying winners in the Circuit this year were from Cape Cod, where four women from a single team won the East region.  Carol Arakelian, Mary Colacchio, Cathy Offinger, and Linda Pistilli "first got together as a foursome two years ago for the GNCC Senior Women's Championship in Utica," remembers Arakelian.  "We realized we traveled well together and decided to commit together for the next season.  Jennifer Stannard encouraged us to join the Circuit and we made the commitment together, as a team - all for one or none at all."  To their surprise, they won the first event.

All of the regional and national winners are excited for another year on the Circuit, with its promise of new adventures, new bonspiels, new friends, and a renewed spirit of competition. 

There is still time to enter your bonspiel in the Circuit! Go to the USWCA Circuit Club Participation page for entry forms and information.

(To see the entire article, go to the About page and click on the link to the Curling News.)

Banner Year for the 2013-2014 Circuit

(May 15, 2014) By Elizabeth Demers, USWCA Circuit Committee

A quiet revolution is taking place in women's club curling, as more curlers than ever are discovering the joys of competing on the USWCA Circuit.  Eighty-four women joined the Circuit in 2013-14, up 68% from the previous year.  Demographically, the heart of the Circuit beats in the East and Wisconsin regions, which have the highest number of individual participants as well as the most member bonspiels.  This year, 16 bonspiels in all four regions helped make the Circuit a resounding success.

The East region dominated the event in total number of curlers with 38, while Wisconsin, whose curlers triumphed in overall individual points totals, had 28 participants.  The tiny Central region, with 8 women enrolled, earned second place, and the West region, with 10 curlers, came in fourth.

Prize money is based on bonspiel entry fees, individual entry fees, and sponsorship money.  This year's sponsors included international curling supplier Goldline, Taco Bell, Pete Fenson, and Erffmeyer & Sons, Co. Inc. (ESCO).

Participating in the USWCA Circuit benefits curlers as well as host bonspiels.  While individuals can win prize money, most women join the Circuit to hone their skills, to gel as a team, or to compete against the best women club curlers in the country.  For bonspiels, being a part of the Circuit brings added exposure for their events, makes travel to distant spiels more alluring, and attracts top curlers both regionally and nationwide.  For example, circuit teams won all three events at Albany Curling Club's Dutch Shoe bonspiel in February 2014. 

It's not too early to enroll a bonspiel in the 2014 - 2015 USWCA Circuit!  Early Bird pricing for member clubs will be in effect until the end of August 2014.  It's also not too early to enroll yourself or your team.  (To qualify for points, each team must have 2 Circuit members and curl in a Circuit bonspiel.)  Please go to the Club Participation page and/or the Individual Participation page for more information.

Pop and Sizzle - Circuit Race Heats Up

(February 6, 2014) By Elizabeth Demers, USWCA Circuit Committee

With more players than ever and a bounty of eligible bonspiels, the USWCA Circuit has provided a new level of exciting competition for the 2013 - 2014 season.

Several bonspiels that elected to be part of the Circuit in 2013 - 2014 have seen a boost both in registrations and in level of play.  Kettle Moraine's Ellen Dowd observed, "If a person is a member of the Circuit, you know they are dedicated curlers and therefore are accomplished curlers, which does bring up the level of competition.  We think the benefits of being in the Circuit are bringing quality curlers to our bonspiels plus increasing the number of people participating.  We had 20 competitive teams in our Fall Fling, which supports this."

The Circuit has seen a phenomenal 68% growth in individual participation in the last year.  Demographically, the heart of the Circuit beats in the East and Wisconsin regions, which have the highest number of individual participants as well as the most member bonspiels.  But the Circuit race isn't defined by region, as the midseason points totals show - curlers in the tiny Central division top the leaderboard, with Wisconsin and the East women in hot pursuit.  By its very nature, the Circuit invites travel and exploration, bringing eastern teams west and vice versa.  Nutmeg teams went to Wisconsin for the inaugural Madison Schmecken Spiel, while a Madison team returned the courtesy call at the Nutmeg Crystal Snowflake in Connecticut.  Circuit organizers expect this trend to grow especially in the shadow of the Winter Olympics.  With US curling heating up on the Road to Sochi, women curlers have "the eye of the tiger" as they eye club spiels across the country, sweeping their own Circuit road to glory.

USWCA Circuit Is More Popular and Bigger Than Ever

(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."

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