Student Continues Family Tradition with Curling at Penn

Nearly 60 years ago, Cody Clouser’s grandparents were among those who founded the Philadelphia Curling Club in Paoli, Pa. Today, he continues his family’s legacy on the junior team, consisting of those age 21 and under, and also leads the next generation of athletes as president of the Curling Club at Penn.

Clouser, a junior Mechanical Engineering and Applied Mechanics major in the School of Engineering and Applied Science from Berwyn, Pa., started curling at age 3 and began practicing competitively at age 10.

Sometimes referred to as “chess on ice,” successful curling requires a lot of teamwork and strategy, he says. And one of the biggest advantages Clouser brings to Penn’s curling club is his years of insight into the strategy behind the game.

“Because most college curlers are newer to the sport, they are usually taught by older team members who may have only been curling for a few years,” Clouser says. “Strategy is something that you learn over many years and the strategy I know is an advantage I provide for Penn’s club.”

Cody Clouser began curling at age 3 and was practicing competitively by the age of 10.

Cody Clouser began curling at age 3 and was practicing competitively by the age of 10.

His many years of curling experience and leadership may be the keys to the club’s growing success.

During last year’s championship against the University of Minnesota, Clouser remembers being tied in an extra “end,” similar to an inning in baseball, without having the advantage of Penn’s team throwing the last stone.

“In order to win, we would have to steal our point,” he recalls. And he knew exactly how to make it happen. “I knew what shots to call and the team did an incredible job of executing them.”

As defending champions, Clouser and Penn’s curling club members have been preparing for weeks for the next tournament, which will be hosted by Yale University’s team on Friday, Jan. 27 at the Nutmeg Curling Club in Bridgeport, Conn.

Clouser says curling is a friendly sport that anyone can do regardless of skill or age and it teaches people how to be social.

“In club matches and less competitive games, the winner always buys the losers a beverage and everyone sits together and talks,” Clouser says. “It is a really great lesson to learn young that someone can be your opponent, but not your enemy. Even at a competitive level, this lesson stays true.”

Student Continues Family Tradition with Curling at Penn

Enrolled in a Mechanical Engineering submatriculation program, Clouser will spend a fifth year at Penn and earn his master’s degree in 2019.

“That means I will be curling at Penn for a whole extra year,” he says.

After graduation, Clouser plans to continue curling, and hopes to head to Beijing for the 2022 Olympics.

To try out, a curler would have to get into the Olympic trials, but only five teams are selected and it involves placing in the previous year’s world championship.

“Since I’m still doing junior curling, I wouldn’t meet any of the requirements for the Olympics this time around,” Clouser says. “It’s going to be tough to bring home a medal, but I’m hoping to try it once I finish my degrees.”

In the meantime, Clouser appreciates the opportunity to occasionally play with his father. Because curlers are allowed to enter on any team for a tournament, the Clousers get to sign up and compete together a few times a year.

“For the last 7 or 8 years, my dad and I have played in the Plainfield Curling Club Stone in N.J. and we’ve won the bonspiel [tournament] twice,” Clouser says.

He is excited to continue the family tradition and pass it along to future generations.

“I plan to curl until I die,” he says.

Curling 101

  • In Curling, players slide 42-pound stones, or rocks, on a sheet of ice toward a target area, known as the house, which is marked with a bullseye.
  • Each team has eight rocks and every player throws two of the eight shots in an “end,” the equivalent of an “inning” in baseball.
  • While each person is throwing, two other people sweep the thrower’s shots.
  • A curler can throw the stone and cause it to turn during its journey to the house. Using brooms, the players shift the state of the ice in front of the stone, which contributes to its speed, distance traveled, and ultimately, where it rests.
  • Points are scored for the stones that land the closest to the middle of the house at the conclusion of each “end,” which is finished when all of the stones have been used. Curling matches usually consist of eight or 10 “ends.”
  • The “skip” on the team is in charge of strategy and calling the shots. In curling, there are different styles of playing, depending on the skip, and curlers know what kind of game they will be playing, based on the opponent and what strategies they’re using.

In Curling, the object is to get the stones as close as possible to the “house,” which is marked with a bullseye on the ice.

In Curling, the object is to get the stones as close as possible to the “house,” which is marked with a bullseye on the ice.

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  • Text by Jill DiSanto
  • Video by Rebecca Elias Abboud
  • Photos by Denise Henhoeffer