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Team USA curling coach has ties to this Seattle curling club

Curling has been called chess on ice, but it’s not as complicated as it may seem on TV.

SEATTLE — The world goes crazy for curling every four years thanks to the Winter Olympics. But at the Granite Curling Club in north Seattle, curling is important 365 days a year.

"This is the Granite Curling Club in north Seattle. It's been a club since 1951, and the building you're in opened in 1961. So, it's been here for quite a long time," said Granite Curling Club member Tom FitzGerald.

"We have multi-generational families that play together," explained former club president Phil Shryock. "We have members of this club that mortgaged their own homes in the 50s to pay for this building."

Since the doors opened six decades ago, the Granite Curling Club has produced more U.S. national championships than any other club.

Sean Beighton, a Team USA curling coach who was born in Edmonds, has won a few titles for the club.

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"People that play at a young age, and really at any age, fall in love with it because it feels like a big family,” said Beighton. “I've been a club member here since 2001, and I have no plans to ever get rid of that membership just because I love it here.”

The Granite Curling Club currently has over 500 members, and it will get a boost in popularity thanks to the Olympics.

"A lot of people who curl here now are curling because they saw it on the Olympics. And well, that's pretty cool. They don't necessarily know that there's a club here, but then once they find out, they're like, ‘Oh, I can do that too,’" said FitzGerald.

"The community here is like nothing I've ever experienced before,” said Shryock. “I think in a world where people crave community, especially in a post-pandemic that we're in right now, I just think that sense of community, that bowling alley feel, that cheers bar, that church basement with beer, I think that's really what is a huge draw for a lot of curlers as well as just the sport itself.”

RELATED: Rules of the game: Olympic curling explained

It's been called chess on ice, and while It may seem a little complicated on TV, it's not.

"The basic rules of curling,” Shryock began. “It's 180 feet, roughly from backline to backline, as we call it. The two bullseye things are called houses. The two red lines are called hog lines.”

"Each team has their own color of rocks," continued Beighton.

"The goal is to release the stone before it goes over the first hog line, and it has to go over the second hog line completely to be considered in play," explained Shryock.

"The objective at the end is to have as many of your color rocks closer to the middle of the target than the other team,” said Beighton. “Every rock itself that's closer to the middle of the target is worth one point. Easy peasy.”

Click here to find out more about curling and the Granite Curling Club.

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