The anticipation, which bordered on outright giddiness, was understandable. After wrapping up yet another highly successful SummerSpiel at the end of July, members of the Cape Cod Curling Club were preparing for the start of a new season that would begin in just over two months.

That been the routine for some 50-odd years now, but this year the preparations were a bit more challenging because the club had planned to squeeze a number of projects—including a new ceiling and lighting in the ice shed (playing area), upgrading the ice-making system, and conditioning the curling stones—into that short time before club members hit the ice again.

The work began immediately after the last curler departed the club in Falmouth at the conclusion of the SummerSpiel. First came the removal of the old ceiling and the complicated removal/redeployment of supports, chains and literally miles of wiring in preparation for the new ceiling. On September 10 the ice shed had that spiffy new ceiling. Ten days later that ceiling was sporting new LED lights and video cameras.

The makeover didn’t stop there; behind the scenes new compressors and pumps were being installed, and a new condenser put in. The fully integrated system was up and running on September 25. Bill Gallagher and his ice crew, who had been working day and night to get the new system up and running, began making ice for the new season the next day.

Things were looking great, but there was still work to be done before the first event of the season, a social curling/pot luck extravaganza last Saturday, October 5. That work would be completed during a “line party” September 29 when Bill, his crew, and 20 or so other members of the Cape Cod Curling Club put the lines and logos down on the playing surface before it was flooded, then frozen.

Club member Barbara Sheerin was among those at the line party. She noted it was an educational experience, adding, “It was so much fun. We had a blast.”

It was a challenge, but nothing the ice crew couldn’t handle. On October 4 word was sent out that the ice was available for practice. A few curlers took advantage and provided positive reviews, but the real test would come the next day, when social curling kicked off the new season. Would the lighting be an improvement? Would the ice draw rave reviews?

The answer to both questions was a resounding “Yes!”

Those who attended the social curling event entered a warm room that was brighter thanks to the new LED lighting in the ice shed, which was bathed in so much light it made the playing surface look shiny and new. Which it was.

And when 24 curlers hit the ice for the first time this season, they relayed even more good news: The playing surface was better than ever.

The compliments put a huge smile on Bill’s face, but he wasn’t the only one beaming. New club president Mike Minior‘s enthusiasm couldn’t be more evident as he touted a new doubles league and told his fellow curlers that when it comes to improvements at the club, they haven’t seen anything yet.

As for the curling, all three games were competitive (one game ended in a tie), but the final scores really didn’t matter. This was all about meeting up with old friends again, sharing a story or two and a laugh, and getting back on the ice and shaking off the rust before league play started the day after social curling.

By all accounts it was a spectacular start. What’s next? Oh yes:

Let’s curl.

* * *

While members of the Cape Cod Curling Club were digging in their closets trying to find their curling brooms and shoes, three younger members of the club were in Denver bidding to be on the team that will represent the United States at the Winter Youth Olympic Games in Lausanne, Switzerland, from January 10 to 22.

Cape Cod teenagers Marius Kleinas, William Gerlach and Nicholas Cenzalli were spread out over the record 11 mixed (two girls and two boys) teams that were competing.

Only one team could win, so the best Cape Codders could hope for was to see one of these three outstanding young men realize the dream of heading to Switzerland as a member of Team USA.

As it turns out, that dream came oh-so-tantalizingly close to becoming reality when Marius, playing second on a team skipped by Coleman Thurston of Wisconsin, found himself in the final against a team skipped by Ethan Hebert of Lowell.

Team Thurston held a 4-2 lead after six ends. That lead was cut to one after seven ends. Then things got interesting. Really interesting.

Ethan buried his last shot of the eighth end in the eight-foot behind a guard, making it the counter. Coleman had no choice but to try to draw to the four-foot. His hammer stone was on broom but had a little too much weight and ended up going through the house.

Tie game. The battle to see which team would represent the USA at the Winter Youth Olympic Games had come down to an extra end.

Obviously, the Cape Cod delegation was on edge. A source in Denver sent word that Marius’s father, Arunas Kleinas, was “pacing and likely getting an ulcer.”

The ninth end looked eerily similar to the eighth end. With his opponent counting one behind a guard, Coleman again tried to draw to the four-foot, with the same result.

Marius and his teammates had fallen just two points shy of representing their country at the Winter Youth Olympic Games.

“We are still very happy but sad at the same time,” Lyn Cenzalli, mother of Nicholas, said from Denver in a text that captured the thoughts of everyone at the Cape Cod Curling Club.

Make that happy, sad and extremely proud. Marius, William and Nicholas are representative of a youth curling program that ranks among the best in the nation. These three young men, all polite, outstanding citizens, were in Denver due to their hard work and dedication, and the hard work, dedication and support of Lyn and other club members.

Yes, we’re proud. Very proud indeed.

Jim Woodworth is a member of the Cape Cod Curling Club. He can be reached at 508-548-4700, extension 221, or woodworth@capenews.net.

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