Shameless plug from the webmaster… Visit the Internet Archive to see some of our older web pages.
The Potomac Curling Club was founded in 1961 by six Canadians, stationed in Washington DC; Bill Onysko, Al Foster, Paul Magnusson, Jack Rozee, Ben Southon, and Alice Preen. The Club first curled on rented skating ice in College Park, MD, using stones borrowed from the American Curling Foundation.
After a year, we moved to another skating rink in Silver Spring, MD housed in a former Safeway store. We had three sheets of ice, all less than standard length, and no two the same length, due to the shape of the building. All of this made draw weight a tricky thing to come by.
In spite of poor ice an limited curling time (one night a week), we were able to maintain an adequate and enthusiastic membership, indeed, sufficient to require a staged draw, such that each team curled only two nights out of three.
We continued in this fashion until 1967 when the proprietor of the rink lost his lease and ice plant was torn up. Left without a home, our prospects did not look bright. However, after two years as an ice-less curling club, we learned that Montgomery County, MD was going to open the first of two standard size skating rinks. Thus we were once again able to rent ice one night a week and resume active curling.
The Cabin John Years
The following year, the County opened its second rink at Cabin John Regional Park, and we moved to that facility, its location being more convenient to our scattered membership. We curled at Cabin John until December 2001, except for one year when we thought we had found better ice, but wound up with none at all.
During our years at Cabin John rink, we’ve been able to maintain sufficient membership to keep operating, but never as high as we’d have liked. Typically, we’ve had some 50 to 70 curling members, but with high turnover. Since our founding we’ve had over 700 members all told.
We are pleased that, in spite of our poor ice and limited ice time through the years, we have sent three rinks to the Men’s National Competition, and more recently a rink to the Mixed National Competition. Also we’ve had many rinks, curling in bonspiels up and down the eastern U.S., occasionally capturing a trophy.
Soon after our club was formed, we entered into a friendly competition with the Hershey Curling Club, meeting once or twice a year for games between the two clubs. This close relationship thrived almost without interruption until Hershey lost their ice a few years ago.
Unfortunately, lacking our own ice, we were rarely been able to host these competitions. We are all the more grateful to the Hershey folk for their generosity in keeping this friendly rivalry active. We sincerely hope Hershey will succeed in their current effort to build a new facility, and that our series of friendlies can be resumed.
Crossing The Bay
In the 1990’s, the curling facility at Easton, MD was completed and the Chesapeake Curling Club was formed. During their first year we helped as best we could, the few experienced curlers in the Easton area to recruit and train new curlers. Since then we’ve maintained close ties with Chesapeake. One program in particular deserves mention.
Within our club we formed a group of some two dozen curlers who drive to Easton on six or seven Saturdays each season for a day of curling on proper ice – a great boon to us. This group, known as the Bay Hoppers (we must cross the Chesapeake Bay Bridge to get there), has become something of an institution in our club. Indeed we now have a Bay Hoppers Trophy, awarded each year to the winners of this Saturday round robin competition. Another gesture of our close relationship with Chesapeake is our annual inter-club bonspiel, held in mid-March. It has come to be known as the Meltdown, since on completion of play, their ice machine is turned off for the season.
In January2002, the Potomac Curling Club was close to opening, but needed additional facility work done to ensure all inspections were met. The membership pulled together and built the majority of the warm room, kitchen, and locker rooms… basically put up walls and ensured a presentable club environment.
The National Capital Curling Center
In February 2002, the club moved into its own building – the National Capital Curling Center, a 4-sheet dedicated curling facility. The dedication, determination and hard work of the members of the Potomac Curling Club led to the fulfillment of a dream – a world-class curling facility, with excellent ice, available seven days a week and capable of hosting national level curling events and fostering the growth of curling. In the full short months after its opening, and taking advantage of the enormous interest spawned by the 2002 Olympics, the PCC doubled its membership.
A PCC hosted Open house at the club that attracted 700 visitors shows the future of the club and for curling is bright. The 2006 Olympic Open house attracted a record 1,205 visitors. The line started at our door and extended past the Gardens Ice House building out into the parking lot. Approximately 90 people joined as “Olympic Members” for the final part of the 2005-06 curling season.
As has always been the case, our club is run by our members, an all volunteer organization. No history would be complete without a mention of our Past Presidents who have volunteered their time and effortsto insure our continuing success.
An account such as this would not be complete without mention of a legend we treasure – a mythical club aircraft, and more important, a mythical individual, Fred Spanner, who has maintained the aircraft throughout the years. The old timers among us first became aware of Fred when occasional references to him and to the aircraft appeared in our newsletter, at the time written be a charter member, John Bittner. Following are a couple of items that appeared circa 1970:
LOST AND FOUND DEPARTMENT — The spare keys to the club’s aircraft, the “Spirit of Curling”, are apparently in someone’s pocket or dresser drawer. If you are the culprit, will you please return the keys to Fred Spanner as soon as possible.
FRED’S UP IN THE AIR AGAIN — Mechanic Fred Spanner reports that it has become common practice for members to leave the club aircraft – “Spirit of Curling” – with partially empty fuel tanks. It is requested (read that “required”) that members top off the tanks when returning from a trip. Any infractions of this rule will result in cancellation of your flight privileges.
In honor of this elusive character we now have a Fred Spanner trophy – a gilt model of a small plane made of plaster, and in no way capable of flight. This trophy is awarded from time to time for a variety of sins. But recipients are always pleased because we all love Fred.