Bowdoin’s curling team is enjoying a strong season, with a mix of veteran leaders and first years. The team attended a tournament, or “bonspiel,” at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, NY this past weekend. 

In a round-robin style tournament, the Polar Bears won the first three rounds, setting a new best record in club history and advancing them to the semi-finals of the championship bracket.

The curling team has found success despite the graduation of two skilled senior members last year, due to a high level of interest from the first-year class. The first years’ energy and dedication to the game has impressed the older members.

“With the compensation that we’ve gotten from the freshman class and the energy we’ve gotten from just everyone in general … we’ve been able to make up for [the loss of the former seniors],” said Max Sterman ’17, who has been playing for the curling team throughout his time at the College.

For the most part, the curling team is self-guided, with organization provided by the upperclassmen. Its official coach, Douglas Coffin, helps run the Belfast Curling Club in Belfast, Maine. He provides the team with advice on both on-ice strategy and organizational set up. However, the team attends tournaments without Coffin. Despite this challenge, the players uphold their rank as second in the region. 

“Everyone is very excited to play … in some ways we get in the minds of other teams because we’re so excited to play and we’re very happy on the ice that they sometimes wonder why they’re not as happy,” Sterman said. 

Bowdoin’s curling team has been around for seven years. Curling is an emerging sport at the collegiate level, and with the high interest from the first year class, the Bowdoin curling team hopes to have skillful members who can potentially move up through the ranks and lead the team in the future. 

“Our team is pretty young, which is nice because then we can build on that and really become really a top tier competitive team,” said Kylie Best ’19, the only team member who had previous curling experience before coming to Bowdoin.

Current members expressed that last year’s seniors not only helped the team on the ice, but also provided an understanding of how to better manage the team. 

With the influx of new first years who needed training, the upperclassmen felt challenged when it came to arranging positions in the team and accommodating the first year members. 

“There’s a little bit of pressure of who’s going to be in charge just because we have so many valued and experienced curlers and only so many spots,” said captain Cole Hamel ’18. 

As of now, the team’s ultimate goal is to play hard through the remaining three tournaments in order to qualify for the National bonspiel. 

Teams ranked in the top 16 nationally get to attend the tournament, which will be held in Utica, New York this spring. Bowdoin’s team, which is currently ranked eighth in the country, qualified for Nationals last year.  

“Our record at Nationals last year was not as great as we would have liked it to be. But at the same time that was our first time going to Nationals, all of us. So we gave ourselves a little bit of leeway there,” said Best. 

After winter break, the team will attend a tournament in Belfast, Maine, on their home ice. More experienced team members hope to step back a bit in the home tournament to let the first-years get some performance time to practice. The second tournament will be held at Yale.

Hamilton is the only other NESCAC school with a curling team, making them Bowdoin’s greatest rival. 

Despite the challenges faced by the team in training and accommodating the freshmen, members feel the team has a lot of potential for growth. For them, having fun and enjoying the game is just as important as winning and competing for the top brackets and the national championships. 

“I think we’re succeeding with that challenge because we’ve been hearing … stories of kids on the team. Their roommates would talk about how our teammates … [are] obsessed with curling. To us, that means we have succeeded so far in probably the biggest challenge this season so I think I would like that to continue,” Sterman said. 

“We know we’re all there to have fun and that’s the point of curling,” Best said.