September 16

SU’s curling club looks to build off last year’s surprising success

first_img Facebook Twitter Google+ Published on October 31, 2019 at 12:21 am Contact Will: [email protected] Sliding a stone across ice onto a targeted area often appears a simple act, but to the members of the Syracuse University Curling Club, it’s a chess match.“The game is both not only physical, but it’s a lot of mental as well,” junior and club co-founder Paul Mokotoff said. “I’m trying to plan out the strategy for the end from the first shot.”In 2018-19, SU’s strategies propelled the club to nationals in its debut season. Since its inception in the spring of 2018, Syracuse’s curling club has grown and can now field two teams. The curlers are working to make their second consecutive nationals appearance, the now-12-membergroup travels every week to Utica for practice for its season that begins on Nov. 8 in Boston, Massachusetts.The club was founded in March 2018 in a Utica Curling Club hallway, where Mokotoff was curling with a friend, a member of Hamilton’s curling club team. It was there where Mokotoff was introduced to Professor Rebecca Schewe of the sociology department. Mokotoff and Schewe founded the club and had it operational with seven total members in time for the Club Sports Fair that September.Being a new club with limited participation can make recruiting difficult, Mokotoff said. During the first year, 35 people signed up, but only one committed to the club, joining Mokotoff and his six friends. That’s how the club went from seven to eight members.AdvertisementThis is placeholder textWith their initial eight members, the SU curling club began playing any team they could. Usually, that was the other four schools that operated out of Utica — Hamilton, Colgate, SUNY Polytechnic and Cornell. USA Curling permits SU to play each of these teams no more than six times per season to earn points toward its nationals bid. A team earns four points for a win, and two for a loss.Courtesy of Chris Lorenz Sophomore Chris Lorenz said having one team hurt SU’s ability to qualify for nationals, since they can’t compete in as many matches as bigger clubs. To earn extra points, club members would volunteer at bonspiels, often working concessions.“It’s a weird scoring system,” Lorenz said, dressed in a navy blue shirt picturing Otto the Orange with a broom in one hand and a curling stone in the other.Syracuse was winning most of its matches, but it wasn’t accumulating the same number of points as other programs. But on Feb. 3, Syracuse beat MIT in the final of the Cape Cod Spiel, clearing the points threshold to clinch a spot in nationals. The top 15 teams in the country are invited, Syracuse made it as the No. 14 seed.“I mean everybody frankly was really excited that we made it,” Schewe said. “And I think that went nationally. Everybody was coming up and shaking our hands and saying congratulations.”Syracuse was knocked out of contention when it failed to win any games in its initial round-robin stage, losing to Wisconsin-Stevens Point, Yale and RPI. Its tournament wasn’t over, however, as SU was placed in the consolation bracket, and won every game there, beating Harvard and Midwest powerhouse Minnesota.As Syracuse club curling enters its second year of existence, the members look toward the younger generation of incoming freshmen and sophomores to lead the team to the ultimate prize at nationals. With seven new freshmen on the team coming into this year, Syracuse can finally field two teams at bonspiels. No more volunteering necessary.But questions for the program remain. As the founding members of the club graduate in the upcoming years, someone will have to step into a Mokotoff’s leadership role. Mokotoff, when asked about handing the team off to the next generation, said it had been something he’s been thinking about since the end of last season.“I need to hand the club off in a condition that it can be replicated by someone else,” Mokotoff said, “And I have an extremely high bar set for myself. And so I know that it’s important to keep that bar high.“Because clearly, the curling club can do some pretty great things.” Commentslast_img read more