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Here’s your chance to win $1000. We are selling raffle tickets to help benefit Windy City Curling and our goal of getting a new house.

Tickets cost $20 a piece, with 13 winners being drawn at our Season Ending Banquet (you don’t have to be present to win). Only 250 tickets will be sold!

Buy online! Click this link to purchase a ticket via Paypal. Please note, a $1 handling fee will be added to cover Paypal costs. You can also contact your local neighborhood Windy City Curling member for more info.


Plog #1: “Forgiveness”

So I’ve been meaning to do a podcast for a while now. I mean, it’s been three months since I’ve written a blog, for which I can only apologize and say, “God, my life…”(Windy City curlers know the details. And no, my turning thirty a week ago, despite my joking about it, is NOT one of the reasons. I happily accept my progression of time here on Earth. Usually.)

One of the biggest hurdles I’ve recently found myself facing is this weird state of writer’s block where all of my “Oh, this would be a great blog!” ideas turn into “Actually, that would make a better podcast topic!” As such, I’ve written nothing. And since I fail at technology and WordPress plugins, the podcast has also yet to surface. But that is something I’m still hoping to work on moving forward into 2015. (By the way, Happy New Year!) To those of you out there I requested an interview of for said podcast – I’m still game if you are.

But I digress…

In an effort to rectify my lack of authoring new material, I humbly offer this placeholder: a plog.

“What is a plog?” you ask.

I have no idea. It’s a word I made up as a portmanteau of “podcast” and “log” in the same way a vlog is a mash-up of “video” and “log” (only I greatly lack whatever the Hell it is that drives people to spout their musings on YouTube in sweatpants and morning hair. You’re welcome). But, since I have a face for radio, you get this instead. Enjoy!

-Eric 🙂

P.S. – Yes, I know in the plog itself I called this whole thing, Into the House. I may not have any answers, but if there’s one thing I learned on the drive home, it’s that my ability to title something on the fly is utter sh*t. That mistake has since been remedied in favor of something much simpler.

(Eric Reithel is the resident blogger, brand-new plogger, and self-flogger for Windy City Curling. His musings are his own and do not reflect the views of anyone with a remotely normal sense of self-esteem. You can find more of them over on his Twitter @TheCraftyCurler.)

Bonspiels are More Than Just Curling

Although I’ve always wanted to, I have never had the opportunity to do much traveling.

That is one intriguing thing about curling.  When “The Big Spiel” was announced, I thought this would make a good road trip.  Rounding up a team, Windy City Curling made its way to Minnesota.

We lucked out in terms of weather.  Although, Phil was ready for anything.


We left on early on a Thursday and missed a lot of the snow storms that hit the area.  Only a couple bad spots.


The drive went pretty quick.  Lots of talk about curling, the hope of expanding our club, and some international curling (which Phil is an expert about).  The first hour of tunes went to Phil, the driver – meaning French country music.  None of us in the car, including Phil, speak French.  Most of the drive, luckly, was dedicated to 80’s and 90’s rap and hip-hop.


One of the highlights of the trip was heading to the Xcel Energy Center to see the Chicago Blackhawks square off against the Minnesota Wild.  Greg and Phil were in full-blown Chicago regalia … meanwhile yours truly is actually a Detroit fan.  So, I was rooting for Minnesota.

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For those who didn’t know, Charles Schultz (creator of Peanuts) was born in Minneapolis and grew up in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Meanwhile, outside the weather was a bit nasty.  The Minnesota faithful were a bit late getting there.  I’m guessing at puck drop, the stadium wasn’t half full.

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It was really cool having Jessica Schultz from the US Olympic Team join us for the game!  Flashing back, I was able to interview Jess about a year ago for the blog.  We kept in touch throughout the year, and she was able to join us for the game.  The weather caused her and her friend Lysa to miss the first period, but they made it just as the Wild scored their first goal of the night.

IMG_0327 (2)Pictured (left to right):  Lysa, Jessica, Dan, Phil, Greg, Greg’s friend

It was cool to get to know Jessica more.  You could tell in her eyes and smile that she just has this natural spark for life, which was really cool.  She was heading to Honduras the week after on a mission trip – she works as a Physical Therapy Assistant.  Heard more about her future, getting ready for a half marathon on more.  Truly, an awesome person.  Everyone, stop now and go buy a Rock Life hoodie.

CLUBS AND FOOD (probably a little too much about food)
The Big Spiel took place in three different clubs in the Twin Cities area.

Four Seasons Curling Club
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Four Seasons Curling Club is the home of the US National Team Performance Center and Curling Night in America.  This was also the first rink we visited in our trip to Minnesota.  (Notice in the picture how the left-most sheet is empty — let’s just say the game went quickly).  The club definitely felt new, almost having the “new car smell.”  It was a great sheet of ice, and interestingly had sponsor logos in the houses.  I’d say that this was a distraction, but out team definitely had a bit of nerves (a bit of a theme for the trip).

But, lets talk about food.  The ongoing joke leading up to the bonspiel was the search for a Jucy Lucy (a cheese-stuffed burger).  We had one at Gabe’s, the restaurant at the Club.  The Jucy Lucy is a brilliant invention, as I’ve always disliked restaurants that throw a cold piece of cheese on a burger.  Gabe’s had some truly tasty food, including the gouda fries which one of our competitors had.  The walleye fries sounded good as well.

St. Paul Curling Club

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Eight sheets of ice for 1,200 members – St. Paul Curling Club is the largest curling club in America.  Although I have very little experience in curling, this felt like the home of curling.  This two-story club features a great restaurant and bar one the second floor.  Uniquely, this club’s second-floor men room actually had a window view to the curling ice below.  I was a bit worried that I’d accidentally step too far back from the ‘privacy wall’ at the urinal …

Now, my favorite meal of the trip — even surpassing the Jucy Lucy (yes, that’s spelled correctly) and the Walleye I had at the Wild game — was poutine.

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Bacon, gravy, cheese and french fries.  This was the first time I have ever had this tasty dish, and I put the half marathon training on the shelf.  Words can’t describe the deliciousness.

Our second, Phil, had a fun experience at St. Paul.  He had wanted the chance to meet US Olympic Skip John Shuster, who happened to be curling on the sheet next to us.  I’ll link to Phil’s story, in his own words, further below.

Frogtown Curling Club

IMG_0448Pictured (left to right):  Dan, Phil, Greg, and Nate 

We were only at Frogtown for one draw, but is the home of “The Shot.”  Take a look at the link below for an article written by Greg.

Frogtown is a converted-hockey rink that now is a dedicated curling ice.  We had heard throughout the weekend that it was going to be really cold at Frogtown – the curling ice is not insulated.  But, to be honest, Frogtown felt like home to us.

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With tables, lounge chairs and couches – it just felt like home.   Pinball machines in the corners, and I swear I saw someone had a 12-pack of Blatz.  There was a few people, underneath a few blankets, enjoying the competition up close.  The previous draw, including our friends from the Houston Curling Club, were watching from the warming room.

From a venture to Surly Brewing Company, a late-night ‘magic’ find of a Mexican restaurant at 3am (assisted by Siri or all things), and a hilarious stop for beer at a place called Dancing with the Sands (where I even was answering their phones on their behalf), the trip to Minnesota was a great trip.  We never even stopped on the Minneapolis side of the Twin Cities.  And personally, I still want to visit some touristy places like the Mall of America or even St. Paul’s Cathedral (which Red Bull was setting up a giant ramp for an event later in the month).

It’s funny, Phil kept saying how cool it would be to live in the area.  He’s not the only one who thought that.  Great job TCCA, St. Paul CC, Frogtown CC and Four Seasons CC.  Great job St. Paul.

Dan Mulka may not be the best curler, but he makes a heck of a chicken parmesean.  He is the owner of Biggest Bark Marketing and works full time doing the marketing for a local waterpark.  

“The Shot” by Greg Torkelson
“Curling Next To Royalty” by Phil Darin


Notes to Self: Five Weeks of Lessons Learned by Subbing-In

So what started as a simple, “Hey. We need a sub tonight. You in?” ended up as a nearly month-long career hopscotching from one team to another. No joke. For five awesome weeks in a row, I had the honor of meeting almost ten teams’ worth of curlers simply through playing substitute. I’m kind of glad this is how I eased into my time here at the Windy City Curling Club. It allowed me to meet new friends not just through broomstacking, but in our element on the ice as well.

And now that ‘A’ and ‘C’ Leagues have concluded and ‘D’ league (which I am in) is poised to start, I find myself looking excitedly toward the future. Finally – my own team! A new band of brothers/sisters to play with for five awesome weeks! And because I never want to be the disappointment to my team (honestly, who does?) I’m always looking for lessons to learn to up my game, be they on the technical aspects or the social.  As such, after every instance of playing sub, I started taking reflective notes on my various experiences as a primer for league play.

Slight disclaimer: One of the cool things about Curling is that everyone, despite playing the same game, takes a different path in their training to get wherever they are at present. So as you read the following, please bear in mind that these expanded blurbs (in no particular order of importance or chronology) were written to me, by me. Your opinions and mileage on them may vary or completely differ. And if they do, by all means – share your thoughts! I’d love to hear about any lessons you’ve learned somewhere along the way. Which brings me to the first (which I overheard while broomstacking and remembered to jot down):

  • “Learn to teach, and teach to learn. We all need to go back to the basics at one point or another.” I still find myself slowly remembering how to properly slide out of the hack virtually every time I get in it. (You won’t believe the number of entries from my notebook I’m omitting from this list that are incredibly specific to myself about my slide. I still don’t know what on Earth, “The broom is your Guide Dog!” is supposed to mean, but I’m sure I thought it a revelation when I wrote it down at 3:00 a.m. one Thursday night…)
  • Playing Lead is terrifying, he says with humor. Knowing that my two stones were setting up the end for success or difficulty added a unique layer of pressure I was not used to. I found it interesting to note how some of my better lead-off shots were still being dealt with at the end of some ends, whereas my misses forced my team to have to work even harder to rally if the opposition was spot-on. So to you lead-off men and women out there who do your job and do it well, I absolutely salute you.
  • Playing Second is more relaxing when your Lead is on point, but extra taxing when not. Whoever said, “A good lead can be a tough act to follow,” never played Second after a great one. Thankfully, I did – and it made my job to keep the momentum going so much easier. The groundwork was laid, I just had to be sure to add to the strategy and not ruin anything already in place. I just wish this position’s shots weren’t bookended with all that sweeping…
  • I do not remotely have any where NEAR enough upper body strength as I would like to play front end. As someone who has spent most of his curling career (y’know, the whole three months of it, lol) thus far as a Skip, you sweepers have an even deeper appreciation from me. (This lesson was written down in my notebook simply as, “Sweeping sucks. Do more Push-Ups.”)
  • Playing Third is a blast. Of all the non-Skip positions, playing Vice plays to my current strengths the best: less sweeping required, more strategy talks with the Skip, being a messenger to the front end guys, and getting a lot more takeout shots (at least, in the one game I played as Vice, I felt like this kept being the call for my shots). It’s not without without its pressure, sure, but at least this pressure felt more familiar to me, and therefore more manageable.
  • Don’t put so much pressure on yourself. No one is perfect, and this is not the Olympic Trials. So you’re going to miss shots – that’s okay. You’re allowed to miss a shot as long as it also doesn’t become a missed opportunity. If you calm down and try to figure out where you went wrong, and work to do better next time, you’re still learning. And there is nothing wrong with learning as you go. Just remember to have a blast! (This one is probably more specific to just me, but if there happens to be any other perfectionists out there on the ice who find wanting to do right by their team more emotionally stressing than not, I figure it couldn’t hurt to share this friendly reminder.)
  • No one tries to miss.  So let it go, Elsa. Let it go. (This is my way of apologizing to any team I played for wherein I missed a shot. So, you know… to all of them, lol.)
  • Skipping a team of players you don’t know requires a lot of blind trust and faith in people you just met. But since nothing brings strangers together in camaraderie like a shared common enemy, this trust is easy to establish within an end of the game. (It helps when the game is more relaxed and fun, too.)
  • Going with that: when skipping, “Never let ’em see you sweat.” Especially your own team. When the chips are down, they look to the Skip to lead them. Do not ever give them a reason to think their trust was misplaced. Confidence, positivity, and a smile are infectious. Be the source of it, even if you have none.
  • I have found very few things in life that feel as empowering and awesome as a really good slide out of the hack.
  • Cosmic Curling is awesome. Needs more blacklight and day-glo paint.
  • Though we’re trying to change this, on a small level, it’s a good thing that Curling is not so saturated of a sport in the world because, when it comes to buying gear, there are no companies out there charging insane mark-up prices just because their logo is slapped on the side. You truly do get what you pay for. (At least, this is what I was told when asking about getting my own pair of Teflon-footed kicks. Applies to brushes, too.)
  • And finally, ice time is Ice Time.  Use it for whatever you want to use it for – focus on making better shots, perfect your slide, practice sweeping, create your team language, make friends and network, have fun, etc. – but above all else, do not ever take it for granted.


(Eric is a guest blogger who, if these last five weeks are any indication, could probably keep Mead Notebooks, Bic pens, RedBull and his local Walgreens in business all by himself. Feel free to follow him on Twitter  @TheCraftyCurler.)