It seems safe to say that if you’ve been doing something for 50 years, then you must be pretty darn good at it.
That’s certainly the case for the annual SummerSpiel at the Cape Cod Curling Club. At a time of year when most were heading to the beach or partaking in the other summer activities the Cape has to offer, the club was hosting almost 150 of its closest friends, who came from all over the country (and beyond) to help launch a glorious 50th anniversary celebration of the SummerSpiel. That celebration will last more than three weeks.
“Fifty. Wow. Who could have imagined that?” said Anne Dewees, who co-founded the Cape Cod Curling Club with her husband, the late Dr. David Dewees. “We’ve come a long way since our first bonspiel.”
Indeed. This isn’t just the 50th anniversary of the SummerSpiel; it’s the golden anniversary of what has grown to become the largest offseason curling competition in the world.
The mixed competition got the 50th anniversary stones moving on July 11. When the four-day event was over, San Francisco had claimed the Dewees Trophy with a victory over South Shore, skipped by Cape Cod Curling Club member Chuck Barnes.
The tight game wasn’t decided by the last stone, but it came pretty darn close. The score was deadlocked at 5-5 after six ends and remained that way heading into the eighth thanks to a blanked end that allowed San Francisco to retain the hammer.
South Shore was sitting two in the final end when Chuck delivered a beautiful shot that chipped out a San Francisco stone in the four-foot and left South Shore counting three. San Francisco vice skip Aaron Johnston (throwing skip stones) responded with a perfect hit-and-stick that knocked South Shore off the four-foot and left his team with the counter biting the four-foot.
Chuck sized up the situation, then took aim at the San Francisco stone biting the four-foot. If he knocked it back far enough and stuck, South Shore would be counting three again, and the game would be determined by the hammer. Everyone watched as Chuck’s shot headed toward its intended target, hit it, and pushed it back, just as Chuck planned. But that plan unraveled when the stone he hit didn’t move far enough and instead came to a stop deeper in the four-foot.
No hammer needed. Game over. Final score: San Francisco 6, South Shore 5.
San Francisco wrapped up its victory shortly after Broomstones 2, with Cape Cod Curling Club member Jamie Hutchinson at vice skip, defeated Orange County in the second event final, and Highland/Inverness (Cape Cod Curling Club members Kenny Thomson at skip and Barb Thomson at lead) topped Mississaugua (Cape Cod Curling Club member Katie Murphy at lead) in the third event final. Both games were blowouts.
The only other Cape Cod Curling Club members to advance to Sunday were Kathleen Harlow, who played vice skip for fourth event winner Pittsburgh/Dallas-Fort Worth/New Pond; and Cathy Offinger, who subbed for the same team in the title game.
The field included two all-Cape teams—one skipped by Mike Minior, the other skipped by James Zuber—and a Cape Cod/Philadelphia team skipped by Cape Cod Curling Club member Nathan Adams with former club member Courtney Lee Beauregard at vice skip. Other Cape Codders were scattered throughout the 36-team field.
But as any reader of this column knows, curling isn’t just about what happens on the ice; it’s also about renewing friendships and making new ones, camaraderie, and a sense of community. To that end, it was uplifting to see former Cape Cod Curling Club member Carrie Gentile among the many familiar faces.
Carrie, who now lives in upstate New York and curls wherever she can, played lead for Bala during the SummerSpiel. “It feels really great to be back,” Carrie said. “It’s like a big family here.”
Her teammate, Bala vice skip Edie Blain of Ontario, Canada, also had words of praise for the Cape. “I love Cape Cod,” said Edie, a 40-year curling veteran who was playing in her ninth SummerSpiel. “This is such a beautiful place.”
Couldn’t agree more, Edie. The Cape is beautiful, and so is curling. The traditional crown of seaweed that was placed on the head of winning San Francisco skip BriAnna Weldon at the end of the mixed competition was a signal that there is more summer curling on the way. Much, much more.
The winners and finalists in the top three events in the mixed SummerSpiel (skip, vice skip, second, lead):
First event winner: San Francisco (BriAnna Weldon, Aaron Johnston, Sean Franey, Amanda Calhoun).
First event finalist: South Shore (Chuck Barnes, Kendall Walker, Andy Flynn, Michelle Landry).
Second event winner: Broomstones 2 (Dayton Neill, Jamie Hutchinson, Bryan Fink, Emily Neill).
Second event finalist: Orange County (Alex Leichter, Jennifer Leichter, Fred Leichter, Nicole Aaron).
Third event winner: Highland/Inverness (Kenny Thomson, Sammy McDonald, Mike Jack, Barb Thomson).
Third event finalist: Mississaugua (Charles Stuart, Judith Stuart, Bryan Stuart, Katie Murphy).
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The ice crew didn’t get a break when the mixed competition ended; they had to get the playing surface prepared for the ladies competition, which started almost immediately after the mixed finals wrapped up.
Twenty-four teams hit the ice to compete for the title, with Clamdiggers, a collection of players from around the country skipped by former Olympian Ann Swisshelm, defeating 3B Plus One (Three Blondes Plus One Brunette) in the first event final on Wednesday, July 17. 3B Plus One, skipped by Tracy Lawless, was also a collection of players from around the country.
The title game was tied 5-5 after five ends. The eventual champion took four in the next end and stole one in the seventh to essentially put the game away, but the teams decided to continue playing until 3B Plus One ran out of stones.
Cornwall won the second event, Thistlettes prevailed in the third event, and Utica 1 took the fourth (points) event.
Like the mixed competition, the ladies field featured two all-Cape teams (skipped by Diane DiMassa and Renee Voorhees), with more Cape Cod players scattered among the other teams.
Going above and beyond the call of duty was Barbara Sheerin who, in addition to her duties as event co-chairman, stepped in as an emergency substitute four times during the event. Now, that’s the spirit of curling.
The winners and finalists in the top three events in the ladies SummerSpiel (skip, vice skip, second, lead):
First event winner: Clamdiggers (Ann Swisshelm, Jennifer Stannard, Becca Hamilton, Jenna Martin).
First event finalist: 3B Plus One (Tracy Lawless, Donna Pearson, Lisa Johnson, Ann Kirkpatrick).
Second event winner: Cornwall (Lise Lalonde, Nancee Cruickshank, Nancy Simpson, Debbie Tropea).
Second event finalist: Scots Tour 2006 (Margie Knitter, Carol Arakelian, Deborah Moulton, Maggie McMahon).
Third event winner: Thistlettes (Carol Wood, Leslie Cooke, Carol Stevenson, Maureen Guay).
Third event finalist: South Shore (Kendall Walker, Colleen O’Connor, Sara Gregg, Caitlin Zuber).
Next up for the SummerSpiel is the men’s competition, followed by the juniors and the wheelchair players.