If we freeze it, they will come

Tempe’s Coyote Curling Club’s has gained a reputation for creative, exciting events

Brian Palm, Reporter

The Coyote Curling Club was founded in 2002 in cooperation with the then-Phoenix and now-Arizona Coyotes NHL hockey team.  They curled out of “The Ice Den,” the Coyotes’ practice facility in Scottsdale.  With just 80 members and a limited budget, the club began sharing ice time with the team and other public functions.  As the club grew and ice time became scarce, they realized the need for a dedicated facility.  The club now has 200 members and opened the doors of their new facility in Tempe in April 2014.

Darryl Horsman, originally from Winnipeg, Manitoba is one of the founding members of the club.  Horsman explained that club members and two world-renowned ice-makers volunteered their time and efforts to turn a factory that manufactured the “fuzz” for tennis balls into a state-of-the-art curling facility.

“Our motto when we built this place was ‘freeze it and they will come,’” Horsman said about the transition to the new facility.

The new location features a “cold room” with four “sheets,” or playing surfaces, which allow 16 curlers to play at once.  The “warm room” is separated by a glass partition which allows non-participants to view the action from soft couches, or seated around tables near the bar area.  There’s also a pro shop where athletes can get outfitted when the need arises.

Horsman spoke to the fact that the club offers programs for curlers of all levels and abilities, including wheelchair curling. Beginners can attend “learn-to-curl” sessions and participate in a beginner league.  Getting started is easy since the club will provide any needed equipment to participants.  There’s an intermediate or “social” league for more serious players and a “competitive” league for those athletes who want to take the next step in representing Arizona at local, national, international and perhaps even Olympic events.

Curling competitions are called bonspiels, and the club hosts four full-field events each year. Karen Tait is another founding member of the club. She came here from Edmonton, Alberta and is a member of the Events Committee.  Tait explained that these are “open” competitions so anyone can participate, up to a maximum of 32 teams.  The bonspiels are similarly organized but vary in theme.  March brought the “Spring Training Bonspiel.” There’s the “Hotter Than Hell Bonspiel” in July.  November features the “Fall Fiesta Bonspiel.”  The club’s flagship event, the “Desert Ice Bonspiel,” takes place April 9-12.

Tait remarked that these are not strictly competitive events, but times that allow the club to show its hospitality to teams from states like California, Ohio, Oregon and Texas, as well as teams from Canada.  Social events like meals and mixers accompany the competition during these events, which usually begin on a Thursday evening and wrap up Sunday afternoon.

Tait suggested that bonspiels are a great opportunity for anyone interested in visiting the club.

“We’re the friendliest group I’ve ever met.”  Tait said.  “It’s a fun sport and the people are so nice.”

The Coyote Curling Club is located at 2202 W. Medtronic Way #101, Tempe, AZ 85281.

For more information about the club, fees, leagues and club events, visit www.coyotescurling.com.