FISHERS, Ind. — For the past 30 years, I have spent most of my Friday nights on the sidelines covering high school football and basketball games for 13News.
In honor of the Olympics, last Friday I took a break to try something new. We headed to the Fuel Tank in Fishers. It's the home of the Indiana Ice Hockey team.
It is also the home of the Circle City Curling Club.
The ice was packed with players of all ages sliding 42-pound stones across the ice. And then there are the sweepers. These players swiftly sweep in front of the stone to keep it going.
I met 79-year-old Frank Wilder. He absolutely loves this sport,
"It's fun. I love the strategy. I love pool and working all the angles. The balls and the stones are the same to me," Wilder said.
The USA won Gold in curling four years ago, and now the sport has become very popular. Local teams are forming all over the country. In fact, the demand for ice time has become a challenge.
Jeff Heck has been a part of the Circle City Club since 2007.
"Our club is growing! We were up to 130 members before the pandemic. We are growing again now that we are coming out of it. And we are opening our own facility next fall up in Anderson with dedicated, full-time ice. Excited about that," Heck said.
Heck is one of those players who tried the sport and got hooked. Most Friday nights during winter, you will find him on the ice.
"I played a lot of sports growing up here in Indiana, and it's different. It's like nothing else I have ever done. It's the strategy, the finesse, the power – you name it, it's got it," Heck said.
If you have ever watched it on TV, you probably said, "That looks easy!" Well, I gave it a try. Let's just say, I felt like a clown out there.
It does take a special kind of balance and flexibility to be good at it. My first few tries were very embarrassing and provided a few laughs for the others.
It's a thinking person's game. You have to be on your game. Heck put it into perspective.
"You are thinking three to four shots down the road, you have to drop a 42-pound stone in between two other stones about a hundred twenty feet down the ice. It's kind of like golf. You hate it, you hate it and then you make that shot and you say, 'I am coming back!' Same with curling," Heck said.
Next time you're looking for something new to try, give curling a chance.
"Come on out. We have several learn-to-curl classes. It's like 30-40 bucks and we teach you everything," Heck said. "All you do is wear clean shoes and flexible clothing and we provide everything else."
I'm pretty sure you will be better than me. I'll be watching from the sidelines. After all, that's my real job on Friday nights!