Cape curlers not afraid to throw stones

Sarah Murphy

On a Saturday morning as Main Street is just waking up, activities are already in full swing right up the road at the Cape Cod Curling Club on Highfield Drive.

The club was founded in 1969 by Dr. David Dewees, a retired anesthesiologist from Falmouth Hospital. Located next to the Falmouth Sports Center, the club is one of Falmouth’s many hidden gems. One of only four curling clubs in the state, it is also the only such club on Cape Cod.

The sport, which originated in Scotland, is often referred to as “chess on ice.” Two teams compete to slide dense stones to a designated mark in the center of a circle.

Tony Colacchio, former president, was busy answering phone calls from prospective members about the club’s upcoming open house. Colacchio was first introduced to curling as a youngster when he used to watch matches while working at the Nashua Country Club.

In 2001, he saw a flyer announcing the CCCC’s open house. He and his wife, Mary, were looking for an activity they could do with their son, Alex, who was 10 at the time. They are now a family of curlers. Mary currently serves as vice president under Russ Lemcke, the club’s president.

“Alex recently competed in the junior regional playdowns in Utica,” Colacchio said proudly. “He came in third place and just missed going to the nationals.”

Colacchio said what makes the game unique is the fact that it’s an equal opportunity sport.

“The great thing is that age and gender don’t mean a thing. It’s not a game of strength,” he said. “It’s a game of finesse. You can have an 80-year-old against a 12-year-old and you never know how it’s going to turn out.”

Colacchio said the fact that it spans generations also makes it a great family activity.

“You can have three generations of one family all playing together. There are two types of delivery,” he explained. “The stick or the slide. Older folks or people with back or knee problems often use the stick.”

Dewees and club member Bernie Garrett recently started introducing curling to the Falmouth gym classes, starting with Teaticket School, whose students paid a visit to the club.

“It’s still gaining popularity here,” said Colacchio. “In many high schools in Canada, it’s a school sport.”

Phyllis Welby of Osterville, who was spending her morning competing in a mixed doubles match, has been a member of the club for the past five years.

“I saw it on the ‘98 Olympics in Nagano and was fascinated. I said to myself, ‘What is this and where can I do it?’”

For Bob Slayter, who joined the club eight years ago, it provides a desired competitive outlet.

“I never thought I’d be competing at my age,” he said, smiling. “I’m 75.”

The club is also in the midst of establishing a wheelchair curling league. On Saturday, Jan. 19, from 1 to 3 p.m., Wes Smith of the U.S. Paralympic Wheelchair Curling team will visit the club.

“Wheelchair curling is still in its infancy but we hope, in four to six years, to establish a league we can send to world class competition,” said Colacchio. “We invite anyone in the region who’s interested in joining a wheelchair league to come meet Wes and get on the ice.”