TRAVERSE CITY — The curlers are coming. No, not those pink hair-warping rolls.
Curlers, as in curling, that Olympic sport played on a sheet of ice that resembles the lovechild of shuffleboard and bowling.
Curling-curious Traverse City resident Don Piche wanted to organize a club for years even though he knew little about the sport that draws its roots to 16th century Scotland.
Curling clubs dot towns across the Midwest and are common in Canada, so why not in northwest Michigan, he thought.
“I’ve had the guilty pleasure of watching for years,” Piche said. “I used to think, ‘I hope nobody catches on that I sat here for the past two hours and have no idea what the hell happened.’”
Piche wasn’t sure what kind of response his proposal would garner. Then 55 people turned out for a late March organizational meeting.
“Our hope is that by next winter we will be forming leagues,” Piche said.
In the meantime, the group partnered with others from across Michigan to host a clinic at Centre ICE in Traverse City. The April 26 event will feature live curling matches and hands-on opportunities for future curlers free of charge.
Most of the potential curlers at the initial meeting have little or no experience with the sport, but at least seven of them did, Piche said.
One of those experienced curlers was Tyne Hyslop, a national champion curler in a seniors division.
Hyslop moved to Traverse City from Bowling Green, Ohio, last year and noticed something important missing.
“The one thing I had to give up when I left Bowling Green was curling,” she said. “I probably have curled for 25 years at least and was a member of the Bowling Green curling team.”
Hyslop’s research of the region turned up a curling club in Lewiston, too far from Traverse City for a weekly trip for league curling, she said.