Clubs should carefully plan leagues to maximize potential for success and ensure they are financially viable. For example, clubs need to recruit a minimum of eight curlers per sheet of ice. Most arena clubs need 3-4 sheets of curlers per draw to pay for the ice, insurance, stones, and other expenses. As all participants will not be able to curl each week, a pool of substitutes (possibly people who are interested in curling, but not ready to commit to a league) is also desirable. Thus, clubs will need a minimum of about 30-40 people who are able to commit to a league in order to make it happen.
While the traditional curling season runs from October to March, arena clubs should not plan to start with a six-month league. Multiple, shorter league sessions over the course of a few months are typically a better fit for new groups. For many new clubs, ice availability and cost dictates the months of the year, as well as the day/time leagues can be offered. According to results from the USA Curling Growth and Development Survey, arena clubs are most likely to host leagues on Sunday (42.4%), followed by Friday (27.3%) and Saturday (27.3%).
While the structural aspects of the league are an important foundation, longevity may be linked to a group’s ability to develop a sense of community among curlers. The tradition of broomstacking, a social get-together after each game, is an integral component of building a curling community. While some arenas have snack shops, arena-based curling clubs can also get together in a local diner or other establishment. These get-togethers provide curlers with a less formal atmosphere to get to know each other. The form that broomstacking takes matters less than the end result, which is club members forming friendships.
In addition to being a critical component of running all curling clubs, volunteering can help curlers feel more like a part of the organization. Getting people involved in the club can also take some of the burden off of the club’s “key players” and contribute to club longevity. More information can be found in the resources below.
League curling at arena-based Dakota Curling Club