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// 2016 VOLUNTEER OF THE YEAR


Making connections – one hug at a time


Traverse City’s Don Piche named 2016 USA Curling Volunteer of the Year


forming connections. It was his drive and dedication to connect people to a new passion in Traverse City that helped the club get off the ground and become successful in just two short years. “Don is not only the founder of our club, but the lifeline of


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our club,” said fellow board member Jillian Riecke in her letter of support. “He is the reason Traverse City Curling Club is on the map, and I couldn’t be more proud of his accomplishments.” Te news came as quite a surprise for Dr. Don, who runs Per-


formance Chiropractic with his wife, Dr. Julie Brons. “Quite frankly, I was taken aback,” Piche said about learning


the news of his selection as the fiſth person to be honored with USA Curling’s award for volunteerism. “Our board did a great job of breaking the news and celebrating as a team. I tend to have a hair-trigger on my tear ducts … they were rather active.” Like many new curlers in the past 10-15 years, Piche first fell


in love with our ancient Scottish sport while watching the Olym- pic Winter Games on TV. Aſter the 2014 Olympics concluded, Piche hit the ground running, making calls to fellow Michigan curling clubs to ask questions. “Jason Hall in Kalamazoo was a great help and invited me to


come and watch how they do it in their arena … and they needed a sub!” Piche said. “I did one slide out and the next time out of the hack I delivered my first rock. I had no idea what the handle stuff was about really, but I did lay that first one in the 4-foot... OK, the call was for a guard, whatever that meant. I get out once a week, through the fall and winter, with a couple of pals who are now hooked. We are Team Granite Asylum. I know what a guard is now. I have had a chance to do a couple bonspiels, too.” When the newly organized Traverse City club put an ad in the local paper for volunteers to help at the club’s first open house,


ersistent. Inspirational. Positive. Te En- ergizer Bunny. Tese were just a few of the words used to describe Don Piche’s Hercu- lean efforts that have earned him the 2016 USA Curling Volunteer of the Year Award. Piche, who helped found the Traverse City Curling Club in Michigan, is all about


60 people showed up. “It became kinda real. I will not drop that ball,” Piche said aſter that first success. “Mind you, I have NEV- ER curled before all this – just saw it on TV during the Olym- pics. I love the community and the fact that we have old farts like me curling with what I call the ‘craſt beer generation.’ When I really look at it, I see new people drawn to the game not because the game is so amazing (although it is), but because our society needs community. Humans thrive on connections, both internal and external. Curling is just a tool to bring people together, in community, and develop relationships.” Te Traverse City club formed in 2014 and officially became


a full United States Curling Association (USCA) member dur- ing last year’s Members’ Assembly. Te passionate curlers call the Centre Ice Arena home thanks to the efforts of Piche and many others. “While I may be personally receiving this award, the reality


is that there have been many board and club members who have caught the vision that a few of us created,” Piche said. Once the vision became clear, as clear as it can get when you have no idea what you’re doing, they jumped in. To be recognized as a club that is growing the sport of curling in our country ought to make everyone associated with the Traverse City Curling Club awfully proud.” Piche can be found at the curling club well more than eight


hours a week, more if there are events going on or special proj- ects to be worked on. “I’d hate to think how many really,” Piche said of the num-


ber of hours he spends at the arena each week. “We have a great board and are getting our stride, dividing and conquering much better. We are working on some delegation as our processes and vision become clearer so now it is probable five to eight hours a week…and I am probably lying.” In addition, Piche spends time at the arena volunteering as a Level III ice hockey official. “His days (no matter the season) are filled with meetings at


our local ice arena, with board or committee members, with me- dia, or with community members as potential sponsors for our club or annual Bombspiel,” Riecke said. “When he isn’t meeting,


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