Big improvements in store for 2017-18 season

Curling in the Brainerd area is on the rise, as the Brainerd Lakes Curling Club starts its 11th season with a growing membership, expanded leagues, improvements to the curling arena and plans to host a national tournament.

The club launched its 2017-18 season with a Community Curling Night, where the public was invited to visit the club, check out its leagues and programs, and give curling a try.

The club’s fall leagues run through December. A major change this year is the addition of two new leagues: an Open League on Sunday afternoons and a Doubles League Sunday nights. The club also offers the following leagues: First Timers Mini League on Mondays, Men’s League on Tuesdays, Women’s League on Thursdays and Open Leagues on Wednesdays and Fridays.

“We expanded our leagues this year to give new and existing curlers more opportunities to get involved,” said Mary Jo Hamilton, who chairs the club’s Board of Directors club. “We added the Doubles League for two-person teams, and the First Timer’s Mini League is for those who want a taste of league play without the pressure of competing against experienced teams and committing to an entire season. We think that’s going to be very popular for those who are new to the sport.”

The most exciting addition to this year’s schedule is the U.S. Curling Association’s Club Nationals tournament, Feb. 11-17. Some of the top club teams from around the country will be in Brainerd competing for a national championship.

“This is a great chance for our club and our community to get some national exposure, so that’s very exciting,” Hamilton said. “And it’s a great chance for the public to watch some very good curlers compete. The tournament is also during the Winter Olympics, so interest in curling will be very high.”

During the off-season, improvements were made to the club’s interior, including upgrades to the kitchen. And a season-long fundraiser last year allowed the club to buy a new set of stones.

Although memberships are required for curlers to compete in league play, anyone can try their hand at curling during the Open Curling sessions on Saturday afternoons. Members are on hand to provide instruction. Individuals or groups can rent the club for private parties or events as well.

“We’re really looking forward to another great season,” Hamilton says. “We’ve been growing each year and attracting more and more members who are really enjoying themselves as they learn a new lifelong sport.”

Located in the Crow Wing County Fairgrounds, the Brainerd Lakes Curling Club is a 501(c)3 non-profit organization. The arena was constructed in 2012 with a $1 million donation by Fran Holden. It now offers a full range of leagues and two annual bonspiels (tournaments). For more information, visit www.brainerdcurling.org.

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