Wausau Pilot & Review
Editor’s note: Business of the Week is a sponsored feature that shares the stories of locally-owned and operated businesses in the Wausau area, highlighting the products and services they offer and the ways they contribute to the metro area’s unique flavor. Learn how to feature your business by emailing email@example.com.
This week’s featured business is the Wausau Curling Club, one of the nation’s oldest and largest of its kind. Founded in 1920, the club hosts a variety of league play at their state-of-the art facility, located at 1920 Curling Way. With eight, fully Olympic-specified curling sheets, the club also boasts the largest high school curling program in the country. Club President Randy Brandner said the heart and soul of this Wausau nonprofit organization is its member volunteers, who help the club host numerous annual bonspiels and the Badger State Games each winter. In early January, The Wausau Curling Club proudly hosts the Tietge High School Bonspiel, considered to be the largest and longest-running high school bonspiel in the U.S. This is also the site for the Wisconsin State High School Championships each season.
Curling has a long, storied history in Wausau, with reports of a few dedicated curlers playing more than a century ago on the Wisconsin River’s west channel, according to a 1986 history booklet written by Robert C. Altman. But with the exception of the transition from natural to refrigerated ice, no other single event served to unite the membership of the Wausau Curling Club as much as did staging the 1976 USMCA National Championships, Altman wrote. That event was held in the Multipurpose Building in Marathon Park, about 100 yards from the curling facility used before the current center was built. The Wausau Curling Club offers a full slate of regularly scheduled league play for folks of all skill levels during their operating season, with curlers ranging in age from 4 to 94 and beyond. Weekends in January and February are packed with competitive, exciting curling events and the group conducts many “learn to curl,” corporate and group events to introduce new curlers to the sport. The USCA National Wheelchair Mixed Doubles championship will draw competitors to Wausau in January, while in February, the Olympics and Paralympics will most certainly draw interest in the sport, Brandner said.
Here, Randy talks about the Wausau Curling Club’s mission and programs during its regular season, which runs each year from October through late March. For information on learning to curl, scroll to the contact information below.
Q: When was your business established, and what prompted you to start?
A: The Wausau Curling Club was established in 1920. We are celebrating 100 years of curling in Wausau. The Club functions as a non-profit, 501(c)(3) organization managed by our board of directors. Our member volunteers are the heart and soul of the organization allowing us to host numerous bonspiels, corporate outings, and national curling events.
Q: Tell us about the Wausau Curling Club. What are some of the programs there?
A: The Wausau Curling Club typically operates from late October through March each year. The current curling center was built in 2012 and is one of the largest and most modern curling facilities in North America. We offer men’s, women’s, mixed, high school, and youth curling to members of our club. We also host numerous bonspiels throughout the curling season bringing curling teams to Wausau from throughout the United States. The club offers for learn to curl programs to local businesses and other organizations. Anyone interested in learning more about curling is welcome to visit the club during evening league or weekend events or by contacting the club through our website.
Q: What makes it so unique?
A: The Wausau Curling Club is one of approximately 30 curling clubs in Wisconsin. Club membership has averaged about 450 curlers each year prior to this current season. Membership dues are very reasonable and are based upon individual league participation. Curlers range in age from 4 to 94, or older.
Q: What are you most proud of accomplishing?
A: The Wausau Curling Club hosted the United States Curling Association (USCA) men’s, women’s, and mixed doubles national championships in May 2021. We will be hosting the USCA National Wheelchair Mixed Doubles championship in January 2022. Curling is a game for all ages, physical abilities, and skill levels. The game is truly a life-long sport that can be enjoyed by everyone.
Q: What are some of the challenges the organization has had to overcome?
A: The pandemic has reduced our membership numbers. We did not curl in 2020 season and our numbers are down by about 25% for the 2021 season. We look forward to welcoming returning and new members in the years ahead. The Olympics and Paralympics in February 2022 will generate interest in curling and our club will be offering opportunities for people to experience curling.
Q: What are your hopes and dreams for the future? Where do you see your business in five years? 10?
A: We look forward to growing and sustaining our membership in the years to come. Wausau has a premier curling facility that will continue to attack curlers. We will continue to support our strong high school curling programs. Our objective going forward is to provide anyone in the Wausau area the opportunity to enjoy curling for many years.