The student curling club from the University of Wisconsin-Green Bay made history last month, topping an invited field of the nation’s 16 best collegiate clubs to claim the first-ever USA Curling College Championship.
Team members (above) are Marina Hauser (skip), Preston Waala (third), Phil Huberty (lead), and Heather Lindahl (second). (See practice photos at the bottom of this column.)
The UW-Green Bay team bested Villanova University, the second-place finisher, and Carroll University and Massachusetts Institute of Technology to take the title. UW-Green Bay advanced to the playoff rounds by going 3-0 in pool play, beating the University of Minnesota, Rensselaer Polytechnic and Boston University.
The college championship was the first to be sanctioned by USA Curling. The tournament took place March 14-16 at the Four Season’s Curling Club in Blaine, Minn. The 16 clubs that participated had to take part in enough bonspiels (tournaments) over the course of the season, and do well in those competitions, to quality for an invitation. The UW-Green Bay team went 19-3 during the season.
The UW-Green Bay club relied on a wealth of championship-level experience to ice the title.
It started with Hauser, an international student from Switzerland who was a highly ranked youth curler in her native country. She studies Environmental Sciences at UW-Green Bay. As skip for the team, she was responsible for overall strategy, directing play and delivering the crucial final pair of stones in each round.
Her three teammates have extensive tournament experience as well. Waala and Huberty were part of the Wisconsin state championship-winning program at Waupaca High School, and Lindahl was a 2012 state champion with her Medford High School club team.
Kristy Aoki, student services coordinator in the Office of International Education, is the club’s adviser. Team members practice their sport at least once a week during the season, usually at the Green Bay Curling Club, and compete at tournaments around Wisconsin, the Upper Peninsula of Michigan and the Upper Midwest against other collegiate club teams.
Curling is not sanctioned as an NCAA sport.
For alumni wondering if a UW-Green Bay team has ever won a national championship in NCAA or NAIA competition, the answer is “yes.” The Phoenix women’s swimming and diving team took home the NAIA national tournament title in 1984.