WARRENSVILLE HEIGHTS — Curling is a sport for Olympians, and Paralympians, and everyone in between.
“It’s a lot of great exercise, workout and the camaraderie, everyone’s super supportive,” said Kymberleigh Romano, a new curler.
With a 44-pound stone in hand, Romano launches across this sheet of ice in 40-degree temperatures.
“The key is to dress in layers, but you will see people curling in short sleeve T-shirts when they really get sweeping hard,” Romano said.
Romano has watched the sport of curling on TV during the Olympics, but with the added time during the pandemic, she and her boyfriend decided to try the sport for themselves.
“This last year has been a real challenge, not being able to get out and be active like we used to be. And so this past winter, when things started opening up again, we had found online a new curler clinic here,” Romano said. “We loved it so much that we signed up for the full season and we've been curling ever since. So I'm about six weeks in at this point and I curl on Thursday, Fridays and Sundays.”
With just the right amount of recreation and competition, Mayfield Curling Club was established in 1962 and moved to a new facility in Warrensville Heights in January.
“It's a good all-body workout. And again, it's all ages. It doesn't matter what kind of shape you're in. You can really get something out of it and be good at it,” said Susan Frankel, the president of the all volunteer-run curling club.
Frankel said they’re currently down about 20 members because of the pandemic, but the club is seeing more new people, like Romano, come try the sport for the first time. Pre-pandemic they would host large New Curler Clinics with hundreds of people. Following CDC guidelines, they have adapted to hosting smaller sessions because of the pandemic, and still get a strong turnout.
“I think people miss their friends and this, it's a really special club where people are really friendly and, you know, egos are left at the door and people are very warm and inviting. And I think people just really gravitated towards that and we all needed each other is really what it was,” Frankel said.
Like many of us, the pandemic took a toll on Romano’s mental health. Curling has become her new escape.
“By coming here, you know, two, three times a week, it's definitely increased my motivation. It has something that drives me through the week. And even if I have a bad day at work, I now have some way as a stress relief to kind of get out, be social and get some exercise,” Romano said.
In trying something new, Romano found out more about herself.
“It's definitely always nice to kind of experience new things and try something new, push your own boundaries and learn new skills. So I've never curled before, but I joke with my boyfriend, it was something that I apparently had a natural talent for. And so it's been a fun experience to find something new that I never knew about myself,” Romano said.
She said it's a pandemic discovery that has turned into a new passion. Romano said she plans to continue curling for years to come.
“It's definitely been an entertainment factor for us and also something that is going to transcend beyond the pandemic and become a part of our everyday kind of life,” Romano said.