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Growth warrants regional name change

Te Dakota Territory Curling Association: Experiencing A Curling Renaissance

By Bobbie R. Todd, U.S. Curling News writer

club is the Drayton Curling Club (Drayton, N.D., founded in 1901 as Daco- tah Curling Club), the NDCA began its road to existence in 1913. Given the state of North Dakota’s proximity to Canada, it is not surprising that curl- ing clubs have existed in the area for more than 100 years. In fact, the North Dakota Curling Association (NDCA), predecessor to the Dakota Territory Curling Association (DTCA), officially got its start in 1915. According to the Toronto World newspaper, the NDCA got its begin-


nings in or around 1913 when R. D. Waugh, then-Mayor of Winnipeg, was at a meeting with some North Dakota business leaders and asked them why they did not have a curling association. While the North Dakota business leaders had been contemplating organizing a curling association for some time, they were not sure how to implement the idea. Aſter the meeting, Mayor Waugh and his staff worked with Grand Forks business and com- munity leaders in order to truly launch the sport of curling in the area. Te inaugural club in Grand Forks was formed and started with two sheets of ice. Te sport became so popular that the number of sheets ended up being expanded to seven. Additionally, other clubs sprang up throughout the state over the next couple of years, and in 1915, the NDCA officially came into existence with headquarters in Grand Forks, and Dr. G. M. Williamson in- stalled as its first president. From the early 1910s on, the sport of curling grew within the state of

North Dakota, especially in areas north of Highway 2. Unfortunately, when the economy took a turn for the worse in the Depression Era, some curl- ing clubs were forced to close. Tese closures and the general state of the economy led to a decline in curling in North Dakota until a resurgence around the 1950s. Roger Smith, league coordinator for Capital Curling Club (Bismark, N.D.), remembers the “great growth” that North Dakota curling experienced around this time. “Tere was an influx in North Dakota when Canada went to socialized

medicine and medical professionals moved,” stated Smith. “When those medical professionals moved, they brought curling back with them. Curl- ing clubs started popping up all over the state again.” Smith has seen interest in the sport both rise and fall over the years in North Dakota. Aside from the growth in the 1950s, Smith also recalls the

he North Dakota Curling Association, which presently covers North Dakota and South Dakota, can trace its origin back to the early 20th century. In fact, while North Dakota’s oldest curling

sport shrinking as people moved clubs (and sometimes towns) during the 1980s. Several clubs dissolved during the 1980s, but around 1995, when it was determined that curling would regain its Olympic sport status, there was a significant upswing in interest throughout the state.

According to Smith, that increase has contin-

ued as “Millennials have come of age and chosen curling as their sport of interest.”

One major aspect of growing the sport of curling is that of starting a

club, and starting a club requires having a good core group of people. Frank Podoll, a curler from Fargo-Moorhead Curling Club (Fargo, N.D.), believes that is the most important part of growing/expanding a club. Podoll also believes that “youth leagues are very important to growing a club” as well as capitalizing on the Olympic Winter Games since “every Olympic cycle, numbers increase,” he said. His club uses both novice leagues and mini leagues to help retain the people who come out to their open houses and learn-to-curls. “Once you get people started, they’ll stick with it,” he says. “Curling is definitely on the upswing.” says Podoll. “Tere has been lots of growth in the last 10 years.” And, that growth has been occurring in more than just North Dakota. In the past decade, several clubs have cropped up in South Dakota, including in Sioux Falls, Rapid City, and, most recently, Aberdeen. Adam St. Paul, president of the Aberdeen Curling Club (Aberdeen, S.D.)

wasn’t quite sure what to expect when he decided to start a curling club. Aſter St. Paul contacted some folks from the Bismarck, N.D., club for help, Smith and several others answered the call by helping St. Paul put on a learn to curl event. St. Paul thought he’d be lucky if 20 people showed up; howev- er, more than 100 attended the first two Learn-to-Curl sessions. Originally, St. Paul had wanted to wait awhile longer before officially starting the club, but Smith convinced him to capitalize on the goodwill the Learn-to-Curl sessions had brought. St. Paul listened, and in 2014, he and a core group of about 16 or so others who were dedicated to bringing a curling club to the area founded the Aberdeen Curling Club. With the number of clubs in South Dakota on the rise, the North Dakota

Curling Association decided to change its name to the Dakota Territory Curling Association earlier this year. Te new name, suggested by St. Paul, was a hat tip to the Dakota Territory, which originally consisted of what is now North Dakota, South Dakota, and parts of Montana and Wyoming. While the DTCA currently only consists of clubs in North and South Da- kota, given the recent growth that has occurred in South Dakota, the ques- tion now is: Will the region end up expanding to include clubs in other areas that were part of the original Dakota Territory? While this remains to be seen, the future certainly looks bright for the Dakota Territory’s curling renaissance.Q

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