By Amanda Dyslin
Free Press Staff Writer
MANKATO — Sandy Hasse and Matt Ringhofer made it look so easy during the curling demonstration, quickly shuffling along the ice, sweeping feverishly to prepare the way for the heavy curling stone known as the “rock.”
Garfield Elementary students lining the wall of the Mankato Curling Club on hilltop Thursday morning were raring to go after watching their physical education teacher, Hasse, and their school counselor cruise down the ice at a good clip.
“While you’re throwing, then you’re sweeping,” Hasse said, appointing students to their respective tasks. “It’s a constant team connection. You guys are going to be so awesome.”
But the students learned quickly that picking up speed on a sheet of ice takes practice, as does the finesse needed to glide that rock into a circular target on the other side of the ice. And on top of it, in sixth-grade speed and finesse are difficult to mesh.
The brave Eleanora Lybeck was the first to throw in her team, and while her form was spot on and her rock glided straight and true, she came up short on distance. Hasse was on the receiving end and gave the rock a little extra push.
Some of the boys on Lybeck’s team had the opposite problem, pushing the rock well past the target.
Noah Rocha’s throw was so forceful, his sweepers couldn’t keep up, causing Avery Miller to be the first to fall on his rump. But he was too impressed with the throw to care.
“Nice throw!” Miller said.
Hasse was a big part of organizing the day of curling as part of the school’s annual mini-winter break activities. Past trips have included skiing at Mount Kato (where they will return today) and rock-climbing at East High School.
The curling experience for all 260 students followed an indoor curling lesson as part of the phy-ed curriculum at Garfield. With Student Council funding and a private donation, the students got to experience the sport in an actual curling club environment, under the direction of Mankato Curling Club President Jake Palmer.
The students learned a lot about the sport. And they practiced the life skills of teamwork and building camaraderie while also demonstrating the districtwide initiative of Positive Behavior Interventions and Supports, Hasse said.
“We really like to teach a lot of lifetime activities,” Hasse said.
And a little sprinkle of common sense didn’t hurt either before the students were allowed to pick up their curling brooms.
“Don’t use these as sticks to hit your friends,” Ringhofer said.
Hasse said two sixth-graders at Garfield are members of the junior curling league at Mankato Curling Club, and she hopes the experience Thursday will inspire more young people to join.
For more information, visit www.mankatocurling.org or call 388-3335.