The second annual Glitter Bombspiel will take place on Oct. 5-7 at the National Capital Curling Center in Laurel, Md. The event is a three-day curling tournament that will feature 24 teams from the United States and Canada.
Last year’s event was the first bonspiel (curling tournament) in the United States for LGBT curlers and their allies. The field was expanded this year and still sold out in two days.
This week in the Washington Blade All Star series, we meet two local LGBT curlers with the Potomac Curling Club who are competing once again this year in the tournament.
Laura Yee grew up in Westfield, N.J. playing a mix of sports including high school basketball and tennis. After seeing curling in the 2002 Olympics as a high schooler, she joined a junior group at the Plainfield Curling Club in New Jersey.
“I like that you have to be strong and have good balance,” Yee says. “It’s also super fun and a great way to meet people. Everyone tends to stick around and socialize after the game so there is a built-in community.”
When she arrived in D.C. for her undergraduate work at George Washington University, she continued in the sport at the Potomac Curling Club at the National Capital Curling Center.
Yee left the area to pursue her Master’s and Ph.D. at the University of Washington in Seattle. The Granite Curling Club became her new home for curling and her first pairing in Seattle opened her eyes to the longevity that many people in the sport enjoy.
“I was paired with a woman in her 80s and she was an example that people of all ages can play fairly well,” Yee says. “I can play this sport for the rest of my life.”
Yee graduated and returned to the D.C. area where she works as a statistician at the National Cancer Institute. She has competed in multiple tournaments around the country including two appearances at club nationals. She is excited for the second edition of Glitter Bonspiel which received a lot of positive feedback from last year.
“I think people believe that curling is easy, but a lot of muscles are used that you don’t usually use,” Yee says. “Tournaments are fun and intense because all your focus is on playing. It’s a great opportunity to get to know your team better.”
Growing up in Longmont, Colo., Jimmy Fallon enjoyed skiing, hiking, rock climbing and cycling. Competitively he was active in track and soccer. After graduating from the Colorado School of Mines, he came to D.C. to begin his Navy commission at the Washington Navy Yard.
After watching curling at the 2010 Olympics he signed up to play with the Potomac Curling Club. “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” had not been repealed yet, so he kept his sexual identity to himself. After the repeal, he had a new freedom to be himself and found the club to be a friendly, welcoming environment. He is currently playing in two leagues per season.
“Curling is fun, engaging and physical. I like the strategic aspects,” Fallon says. “There is a community at the club with a tradition of hanging out after each match in the warm room.”
Fallon discovered a thriving network of curling teams for the LGBT community in Canada. They were running a series of gay bonspiels.
“It’s crazy how many bonspiels are in Canada. The gay ones have double the teams,” Fallon says. “It’s great to see the overlap between the LGBT community and the curling community.”
Fallon traveled to tournaments in Ottawa and Toronto and realized it would be fun to start an LGBT bonspiel at the National Capital Curling Center in Laurel.
In addition to curling, Fallon spent two seasons with the D.C. Strokes Rowing Club. Now working as a physics instructor at the United States Naval Academy, he also volunteers with the academy’s sailing program.
“Going to bonspiels is great and the treks out of town really test your commitment to the sport,” Fallon says. “These used to be separate communities and now they are joined together.”