The Coyotes Curling Club in Tempe is redefining camaraderie by building a dynamic community both on and off the ice.
The club’s hard work and determination has led to a brand-new, sprawling, Olympic-caliber facility and a hundred new members.
The Coyotes Curling Club was founded in 2003 and is currently the only curling club in the state. When they started, they were located at the home of the Phoenix Coyotes hockey team at the Ice Den in Scottsdale. The club had about 80 members. However, their time on the ice was limited to two hours a week. They needed more space to become competitive.
Twelve members decided to create a new facility and make the Coyotes Curling Club into a nonprofit organization. They wanted the club to be about its members and a place for the community to gather and share a love of the sport.
Darryl Horsman, 43, works in marketing for U-Haul and is spokesman for the club. He grew up curling with his parents in Winnipeg, Manitoba in Canada. Horsman is also one of the 12 original co-founders of the Coyotes Curling Club. He said they all knew it would be hard work but a risk worth taking.
“We reached out to everyone we knew locally in the western U.S. and said ‘if this thing goes belly up’ we will all put in $1,000 and lick our wounds,” Horsman said.
Dr. Jeffrey Baird, 54, is a family practitioner and president of the Coyotes Curling Club. He said the club had very little professional help with the new facility’s construction. Members of the club volunteered their time wherever it was needed.
“We had some contractors in the club who helped organize our army of volunteers. Our poorly trained volunteers. We put up dry wall, we did demolition, we built the bar, and we did kind of whatever as it grew,” Baird said.
Carroll Huntress, 61, is a restaurateur and is a member of the club’s Tuesday night league. He said the process was truly gratifying.
“Being able to build this club from the ground up, from the warehouse that was here before, redoing the walls, the ceilings and all the hard labor that we put into this club to make it our own. It’s the best,” Huntress said.
Since the club is a nonprofit, not a single member of the club was paid in the building process.
“What is really amazing about that is this [club] is all member-driven. Nobody here is paid. Nobody here gets a salary. Nobody here gets a kick back, like free this or free that. It still remains to be the 120 people that just want to make curling a success here in Arizona,” Horsman said.
The Coyotes Curling Club feels that their mission goes beyond the game. They want to pass along the culture of the sport to the next generation of curlers.
“We are one of the last sports that doesn’t have referees. We have the opportunity now to teach so many people good sportsmanship. How to be a good person on and off the ice,” Horsman added.
They hope the expansion of their club will help shape the Tempe Community. The club currently offers learn to curl lessons for children 6 and under. Any child that brings a canned good receives their lesson free of charge. The club then donates that food to a local shelter.
“Most curling clubs around the world no matter where you are, are such a positive influence to the community and I really like to think we are doing our part in that,” Horsman said.
The year-round facility costs nearly $4,000 a month in the summer to keep cool. The club offsets costs by hosting corporate events, parties and curling clubs from around the United States and Canada.
Dr. Tracey Drummond, 55, is a pediatrician and founding member of the club. She is also married to Baird, the club president. She says she wants to see their club encourage more women to try the sport.
“It is a very small community and as we are trying to grow our club, we are really trying to figure out how to bring in more women get more women involved. Have women’s only events but also events where we mix in especially newer curlers,” Drummond said.
The club has the only dedicated Olympic quality ice in the southwest. This has caught the eye of several former Olympians that have expressed interest in holding training camps at the new site.
“The facility is world class enough, where we have actually got a lot of these Olympians and Paralympic athletes reaching out to us saying ‘we have heard so many great things about your club, we have to be there, we have to do something at your club. What can we do? How can we help,’” Horsman said.
The members want to see their club become more competitive and eventually go for Olympic gold.
“Trying to be more competitive that is one of our missions for the club in general. To try and advance people who are interested, playing at a little bit higher of a level and trying to get them some exposure,” Baird said.
The club has three members that have done well and look to compete in the Olympics. Horsman is one of them.
“I’m taking my citizenship test in a week or two to become American so I can be on that team to compete for the Olympics. So, hopefully 2018 will be the year somebody from Arizona makes it to the Olympics,” Horsman said.
The next winter games will be held in Pyeongchang, South Korea in 2018.