Curling looks easy.
The one consolation I can take away from a stint as a Traverse City Curling Club team replacement player is that there were no falls. A few close calls, but no biting the ice.
Having never played the sport before, there were low expectations. And they were met.
After a short tutorial on the basics, fellow novice Al Zelinski and I joined club organizer Don Piche and Paul Kolak to face off in the club's final event of the summer season at Centre ICE Arena.
My first shot sailed past the house — the large blue circle that you try to slide into from over 120 feet away. That was a pretty typical personal outcome for the evening. It wasn't until the third end — similar to an inning — that my stone rested in the scoring area. By the sixth, both came to rest in the house — and one of them was actually one of three points we'd earn in the 7-3 setback. "Good job, bro!" came from Piche on the other end of the ice sheet.
The sport itself is both enjoyable and humbling. It requires some basic athletic skills such as balance, coordination and touch. Keeping up with the stone while sweeping requires footwork and minimal amounts of foot speed and endurance. You'll be sweeping up to three times for every time you throw the stone, unless you're the team's skip.
Everyone supports everyone else, even the novices who aren't really adding all that much to the team. The opposing teams — in our case, Jamie Grace, Neal Sweet, Dave Wilsey and Ron Williamson — don't openly root against each other and are very supportive.
"You don't really need a referee," Piche said. "It's a community."