Six members of the Bowdoin curling team will begin their spring breaks by traveling to Fargo, ND to compete in the USA College Curling Championship from March 11 to 13. Bowdoin enters the tournament ranked 14th out of the 16 teams that qualified. Nationals will open as round-robin play, after which eight teams will advance to a single-elimination tournament.
Qualifying for Nationals required accumulating enough points at individual tournaments throughout the season, a task that proved difficult due to Covid-19-related cancellations. The team was only able to participate in three tournaments this year, compared to their usual six, which made it harder to collect enough points.
“It really came down to the last tournament [on February 20 in Bridgeport, Connecticut] to determine if we were going for sure,” co-captain Claire Pierce ’22 said. “We’re really happy to qualify, because it was a struggle just being able to compete at all this season.”
The team made it to the semi-finals in tournaments hosted in Boston, MA and Troy, NY in the fall, which bolstered their chances for qualifying for Nationals. While they were unable to advance in their most recent tournament in Bridgeport, CT, they earned enough points to secure their spot at Nationals.
However, the season was not without its struggles. The team usually practices at a curling facility in Belfast but was unable to secure ice time for most of the year due to Covid-19-related barriers and recent flooding damages.
“Our biggest challenge is that we have very limited access to real curling ice,” co-captain Isabel Krogh ’22 said. All of our practices are in [Sidney J. Watson arena]. It makes it really hard to get the actual feeling of curling.”
Bowdoin Curling is entirely student-run, so all the teaching and coaching responsibilities fall to teammates.
“We’ve never had a formal coach, and it’s always been whoever is the oldest on the team [that] teaches everyone else what they have learned in their four years,” Pierce said.
While this style of practice is usually part of the charm of Bowdoin Curling, it means that, despite qualifying in the past, the current players do not have anyone to guide them through their first Nationals experience.
“I don’t think any of the people who are going to Nationals have gone before,” Maynor Loaisiga Bojorge ’22 said. “Our sophomore year, [Pierce] and [Krogh] were supposed to go, but it got canceled because of Covid-19. So, we don’t know what to expect.”
That has not stopped Pierce from preparing for the competition as much as possible.
“I’ve been talking with our old captains from two years ago, trying to get some advice. I’ve just been looking for anything I can get from them so we can try to ready ourselves for it,” she said.
For Krogh, Nationals represent a chance to travel one last time with her team and reflect on the ways that curling has shaped her time at Bowdoin.
“It’s definitely been a huge part of my college experience,” Krogh said. “You travel with the same group of people and really get to know them. We’ve been through a lot together.”
Though the team saw success on the ice this season, Pierce believes the seniors’ biggest accomplishment was securing curling’s place in Bowdoin athletics.
“[The current seniors] were sophomores the last time we really had a team, and we just really wanted to make sure that the team would continue once we graduated,” Pierce said. “Our big goal was to build up a community of first-years and sophomores that would be able to take the reins. It really makes me happy that we’re leaving the program in good hands.”