It may be hard to believe, but the Valley of the sun is home to the nation's best senior curling team.
“Our team has a little bit of the Jamaican bobsled feel to it,” said Tom Danielson jokingly.
In the middle of the desert, grace, touch, and teamwork is on full display on the ice at the Coyote Curling Club in Tempe.
“When we put this team together six years ago, it was our goal and our dream to represent the United States at the world's and to win nationals,” said Bob LeClair.
It’s a dream that’s taken Bob Leclair, Fred Maxie, Jeff Baird, Tom Danielson, and Greg Gallagher to a place they never thought possible. It's one that took countless hours of practice to get them to the peak of their form.
“That’s coming good, yep, nice,” shouts LeClair across the rink.
LeClair is the team's “Skip," shouting commands to teammates as they slide a 42-pound granite stone towards a target painted at the opposite end of the rink. Their brooms frantically sweep the ice in hopes of achieving just the right speed to score. Last month Team LeClair traveled to Illinois for the US Senior Championships. When they left, they returned to Arizona the best in the country. It was a tournament that hosted 12 of the top senior (50+) men’s curling teams from across the United States.
“I remember I think every point of the game and the excitement keeps building and building,” said Danielson. “Bob was going crazy when we won. There were definitely some brooms thrown and lots of hugs.”
“We were really excited, it’s just once in a lifetime,” said Greg Gallagher.
Later this month, the dream continues when they head to Switzerland to battle against the best in the world. It’s been a journey filled with laughter and camaraderie and an achievement they hope attracts more people to the game they love so much. But even now, it’s hard to wrap their heads around what they’ve accomplished.
“I’ve still woken up at like three or four in the morning, I tap myself and go I’m still the champ, we still won, it’s been that exciting, it seriously has been,” said LeClair.
Coyote Curling Club offers a number of different ways for people to try out the sport. Check out more information at this link.