Rochester Institute of Technology’s Curling Club will have home field advantage as one of 16 collegiate club teams competing in the 2015 USA Curling College Championship being held March 13-15 at the Rochester Curling Club, 71 Deep Rock Road, Gates, off Brooks Avenue near the Greater Rochester International Airport.
Admission is free and open to the public.
The rink, the only indoor curling rink between Niagara Falls and Utica, is where the RIT team practices. Although RIT has two hockey rinks, the ice preferred in curling is rougher than ice found on skating rinks.
There are about 30 members of the RIT Curling Club, but only five members (four players and an alternate) will compete for the championship. They are: Jim Bogardus, a fourth-year visual media major from Kinderhook, N.Y.; Emily Cali, a fourth-year photography major from Fairfax, Va.; Hannah Ely, fourth-year medical illustration major from Penfield, N.Y.; Chris Haluszczak, a fourth-year industrial engineering student from Hammondsport, N.Y.; and Sean White, a first-year packaging science major from Victor, N.Y.
The team is seeded fifth coming into the competition. Although RIT students have been curling since 2006, this is only the second year it has been recognized as an official club at RIT.
“The community should know what a highly-skilled team RIT has,” said Mark Ely, Hannah’s father and a member of the Rochester Curling Club.
RIT Curling Club President Michael Nixt, a second-year mechanical engineering major from Los Angeles, says his team travels to weekend tournaments as far away as Indiana. Members take turns competing at the tournaments and points are awarded to the teams, making them eligible for the finals.
He said curling tends to be a low-profile sport, one reason because people don’t see it being played. The reaction he gets from his fellow students who learn he’s on RIT’s curling club is often: “We have a curling club program? That’s a surprise.”
Katie McMillen, a third-year physician assistant major from Trumansburg, N.Y., said people who don’t know about curling think it’s easy to play. “It’s more about technique. It’s more mental. It’s known as chess on ice.”
Teams will compete in round robin tournaments Friday and Saturday, with the championship rounds beginning at 12:30 p.m. Sunday.
Plans are also to stream the competition live at www.rochestercurling.org.
For more information about the tournament, go to http://www.collegecurlingusa.org.