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The Journal Gazette

Sunday, October 21, 2018 1:00 am

Curling club to move to larger facility next year

Josh Patterson | For The Journal Gazette

Craig Fischer's love of curling grew out of a desire to enjoy a sport with his family. Now, he's anticipating the opportunity to help many more in Fort Wayne experience that same joy.

The Fort Wayne Curling Club, which Fischer co-founded, announced last week that it has purchased the former Habitat for Humanity ReStore building on North Wells Street, with a grand opening slated for September 2019.

“Our board wanted to make sure renewing was the right thing to do,” Fischer said. “We (told) the owner of the Habitat ReStore building what we did, not only curling but we have a big focus on special needs. It turns out he has a son with special needs, and liked what he was hearing.

“He made us a pretty good offer to finance the building. It allows us to get into the building with little money down. It worked out really well, and it solves a number of the challenges we have with our facility.”

While the club's current facility has served the community well, its size limits what the club can accomplish. Moving to the former ReStore location, 3837 N. Wells St., allows for expansion from three curling ice sheets to four, as well as the opportunity for a much larger “warm room.” At its current location at 3674 N. Wells St., the 1,200-square-foot warm room “can get pretty crowded” when the club reaches its capacity of 100.

The camaraderie that accompanies the sport – namely, drinking a couple of beers after a game – can also tie up the current facility's two restrooms.

The new facility and its five restrooms eliminate those potential logjams, allowing curlers to get back on the ice more quickly.

In addition, the fourth curling sheet enables the club to play host to larger tournaments and private events, as well as the chance to expand its public Learn to Curl sessions and Special Needs Curling Program, which has blossomed through partnerships with Turnstone and the AWS Foundation.

The special needs program stands close to Fischer's heart, as it grew out of an interest in finding a sport where he could compete with his son, Grayson, who has autism.

The curling competition at the 2006 Olympics caught both Fischer and his wife's eye, and they soon realized Grayson could participate in the sport.

First traveling to Bowling Green, Ohio – then about a 5-hour round trip – on six successive Sundays to a curling club, the Fischers quickly grew to love the sport, as well as the chance to participate on an equal playing field.

“If we're playing basketball, I can't dunk (on my son),” Craig Fischer said. “Curling is a bit different because everybody takes their turn. I can help him with his throw, but when it's my turn, I can enjoy it to the fullest while still playing with my child.”

The club has established a corporate sponsorship program to help fund the move, which includes purchasing private events as well as advertising space on the new facility's walls and even on the curling sheets. Businesses interested in the program can call the club at 260-739-5182.