While our neighbors to the north seem to excel in the sport of Curling at the Olympic games, Seattle’s own Granite Curling Club is quickly becoming known for its tremendous talent including that of Granite Falls' own Luc Violette, who is taking the sport by storm.
Violette is a seventh grader at Granite Falls Middle School and just turned 13 years old, yet he has competed against teams with much older members.
Tom Violette, Luc’s father and coach for the last eight years, explains how the age division is different than in sports like soccer.
“In curling we don’t have U12, U14, etc. We have U18 and U21. Luc just turned 13 and he is playing in a U21 division,” Tom said. “I’ve been coaching him since he started curling at five years old. In every game he has played he is the youngest in all of the championships. It’s amazing to be playing at level having just turned 13.”
Older teams aren’t always too impressed when a bunch of young boys show up to compete, especially at nationals this year.
“We were the youngest team in the entire competition, which seeded us next to last—it worked in our favor. I think some of the teams took us lightly,” Tom said.
Luc played in the second position on Vukich's Washington team at the 2012 US Junior National Curling Championship in McFarland, Wis. Jan. 28 through Feb. 4 after winning the Washington State Junior Men’s Championships.
The team took sixth place after losing 7-6 in an extra end, and at 13 years old, Luc was the youngest competitor to ever compete in the US Junior Curling Championship.
Luc has an impressive background in curling including a fourth place at 2011 U18 Curling Championships and a sixth place at 2012 U.S. Junior Nationals.
The apple doesn’t fall far from the curling tree. His dad is a three-time U.S. Champion who has been curling all of his life. He is also a Level 3 Competition Coach.
“I grew up in Northern Minnesota,” Tom said. I even came close at the Olympic trials. When Luc started curling I started instructing at our Curling Club in North Seattle. We have almost 50 juniors in our program.”
Luc’s dream right now is to compete in the Youth Olympics in four years and while he’s waiting he’d like to win a National and World Junior Championship.
“He (Luc) will qualify for the Youth Olympics in four years and hopefully win a National Junior Championship in the meantime. We’ll have the same team next year so we have a really good chance,” Tom said.
Luc looks even further into the future hoping for a chance at Olympic Gold.
“My dream in curling for my life is to be an Olympic Gold Medalist. It’s a dream I’ll pursue,” Luc said.
The Violettes sacrifice a lot of time to make sure Luc gets to participate in the sport he loves. Between driving to the club in Seattle two to three times a week and then all of the competitions and game time, they spend dozens of hours devoted to the sport of curling each week. However, their love of the sport and all it entails is what keeps both Luc and his dad coming back.
“The main reason I like curling is because you meet so many friends. In other sports you don’t really like your opponents. In curling after every game you eat with your opponents and sit down with them and during the game you learn to respect them,” Luc explained. “I love how it is more of a team sport. In curling every shot, all four players are involved. If all four players don’t do their job correctly you miss your shot.”
“I also get to go to so many great places. I get to go around North America including Toronto, Vancouver and Wisconsin. We will be in Boston next year,” Luc said. “And then we’re hosting in Seattle in two years.”
The sport of curling has grown phenomenally and the Granite Curling Club has seen tremendous growth in the last decade.
“We’ve seen over 100 percent growth nationwide in the last 8-10 years,” Tom said. “Right now we have over 600 members.”
The Granite Curling Club is the only dedicated curling facility on the lower west coast of the U.S., and has been operating in its present facility since 1961. The Granite Curling Club has been the home to more national championship teams (42) than any other U.S. curling club.
The best advice Luc can give – just try it!
“I would like people to come and try it and think about it with an open mind, some people think it’s not really a sport,” he said. “It definitely deserves to be in the Olympics. It’s definitely a sport.”
Luc continues to get straight As at Granite Falls Middle School making sure he completes his homework before going to practice.
“I plan for my homework and try to get it done before practice or in class. I get straight As,” he explained. “The club is an hour away. I wish I could be there 24/7.”
A curling team is made of four individuals – the Lead, the Second, the Third (or Vice-Skip) and the Skip, who is the captain and the last to deliver their stones.
In curling, each player delivers his/her stones each end, alternating with their counterpart on the opposing team. After all stones are thrown, the team with stones closest to the center of the house scores points for that end.
The point total is determined by the number of stones closer to the center of the house than the nearest stone of the opposing team. A game normally consists of eight ends , which takes approximately two hours to complete.