Discover Kalamazoo Sports exists to share the local impact of sports tourism in the Kalamazoo region by providing inspiration that encourages visitors and residents to discover Kalamazoo sports. By sharing the #WhyStory behind each one of our sports event partners, we hope you’ll find inspiration to “Discover Kalamazoo Sports” a bit further and find meaning and significance in the role that sports play in our community.
KALAMAZOO CURLING CLUB
Prior to being established in 2008, Kalamazoo Curling Club’s founding member Kent Elliot traveled to Windsor, Ontario with several prospective club members to learn more about the sport of curling. After a few trips, Kent approached Wings Event Center with the idea of starting a curling club and the two community organizations formed a partnership that would soon become history in the making.
USA Curling National Championships
Shortly after the creation of the Kalamazoo Curling Club’s first leagues, came hosting their own events. In partnership with Wings Event Center, the Kalamazoo Curling Club hosted the USA Curling National Championships in both 2010 and 2015, establishing Kalamazoo as a premier curling destination nationally. More recently, Kalamazoo hosted the 2019 USA Curling National Championships, setting record attendance with more than 5,000 attendees which was a 264% increase from the 2015 event.
“I was able to talk with many involved with USA Curling and received numerous compliments at how our club ran the event and how the Kalamazoo Curling Club is becoming a real difference-maker in curling across the U.S.,” said Marcus Gleaton, President of Kalamazoo Curling Club.
With approximately 200 athletes, coaches, various event personnel, and 5,065 curling fans, the 2019 USA Curling National Championship brought in an estimated economic impact of $328,188 to the region.
“The most moving thing to me was to see all of our members get so excited about the event and volunteer so selflessly to provide the athletes with a great experience,” said Marcus.
As a result of hosting multiple successful USA Curling National Championship events, the Kalamazoo Curling Club eventually created an event of its own held at Wings Event Center called the Kalamazoo Beerspiel.
The annual three-day event attracts 20-30 curling clubs from around the Midwest and incorporates Kalamazoo’s well-established craft beer scene with an organized pub crawl on Thursday night prior to the event kicking off.
Kevin Martin Curling Academy
This past January, the Kalamazoo Curling Club teamed up with Kevin Martin, one of the greatest curlers of all time, to host the Kevin Martin Curling Academy benefiting the Lupus Research Foundation.
Over the course of a weekend, Kevin Martin demonstrated his Olympic curling tactics and spoke to nearly 100 curling enthusiasts about the places that the sport of curling has taken him over the years.
“While hosting the Nationals, we were fortunate to meet so many great curlers from around the United States. One of the participants was Todd Birr, husband to Regan Birr, Executive Director of the Lupus Research Foundation.
We were able to get to know her and she asked if our club would be interested in hosting a Kevin Martin Curling Academy to help raise money for Lupus,” he said.
“And since one of our club members grew up with Kevin, we jumped at the chance to offer this great opportunity to our club members and raise money for Lupus.”
Raising nearly $16,000 in one weekend, the Kalamazoo Curling Club was able to help the Lupus Research Foundation move one step closer toward finding a cure all while bringing two-time Olympic gold medalist, World Curling Hall of Famer and considered one of the greatest curlers of all time, Kevin Martin to the Kalamazoo community.
When asked to describe the Kalamazoo Curling Club in three words, Marcus responded, “Fun, dedicated, and caring.”
After the conclusion of the 2019 USA Curling National Championships and the 2020 Kevin Martin Curling Academy, those words could not hold more truth.
The Kalamazoo Curling Club has been a huge asset to our community, by growing the knowledge of curling within our region, driving large scaled events to Kalamazoo and using their platform to selflessly make change through the lives of others.
To stay on top of all upcoming opportunities, visit the Kalamazoo Curling Club’s website.
To learn more about what is happening in the Kalamazoo sports community, we encourage you to follow Discover Kalamazoo Sports on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram and stay tuned for more #WhyStory Wednesdays.