Mitch Frankel’s interest in curling started as a joke when he was 16 years old.
According to Mayfield Curling Club president Sue Frankel, her husband and his friends went to the Olympics as spectators and started trying to figure out how they could become Olympic athletes.
“They all kind of looked at each other and said, ‘Yes, four Jewish guys aren’t going to be able to do much at the age of 16, we should join the Israeli curling team,’” she recalled, adding at the time there wasn’t an Israeli curling team and that it had been a running joke among them for years.
A running joke until about 11 years ago, when Mitch Frankel found a “learn to curl” newspaper advertisement. He reached out to his friends and told them it was time to become athletes, but most of them had busy lives and couldn’t participate.
“It was a joke at one point, we thought it would be fun (and) have been doing it ever since,” Sue Frankel said.
Today, the Mayfield Curling Club, which started in 1962, has 160 members. It operates out of Mayfield Country Club, via a separate membership and offers curling seven days a week, at least twice a day, on its three sheets, the curling term for the ice curlers play on.
And the joke has turned into a bit of a lifestyle for the Frankels; when they first joined Mayfield Curling Club, they didn’t know anyone. Since joining, they’ve quickly made close friends with their fellow curlers, some coming from as far away as Avon, Akron and Canton.
“It’s a really diverse group of people,” she said. “If you walk in the door and if you had pretenses or an ego, any kind of thing like that, for whatever reason, it stays outside of the curling house. And you walk in and everybody is friendly and treats each other with respect, no matter who you are or where you come from.”
Depending on the night, Mayfield Curling Club will have a different focus; for example, Monday nights are competitive nights. If one is preparing for a bonspiel, or a curling tournament, they could join a team to practice. Tuesdays are women’s days, Saturday morning is men’s curling, and Thursday, Friday and Sundays are mixed curling, where men and women play together. But no matter what day one curls on, Sue Frankel said Mayfield Curling Club has a relaxed attitude.
“It’s very relaxed, even the competitive games are very relaxed, even the bonspiels you go to,” she said. “It’s about the people and having fun. There are people serious about this, some people are on the national level, but even there you’re relaxed and having fun.”
Some of that is the nature of curling itself and Mayfield Curling Club has become a way for members to unwind.
“It’s an incredibly important component of these people’s lives and it’s also social, really social,” Sue Frankel said. “You play a game and the game usually lasts two hours, winner buys the loser a drink, then you sit around and talk about curling and the game, and then you sit and talk about your families. It’s a lot of fun.”