Two Bearden juniors breaking the ice on unique club


Archive photo

BHS junior Adam Hasan practices curling at the Ice Chalet.

Adam Hasan and Chanhee Hwang had never curled before this year – so, naturally, they decided to found Bearden’s first ever curling team.

In fact, Bearden is the first high school curling club in Tennessee – or any of the states bordering it – and is currently the only high school curling team in the Southeast.

“I guess that means that we’re also ranked number one in the region,” Hasan joked. “So we’re pretty proud of reaching that achievement.”

The pair of Bearden juniors officially founded the club in early December after discovering that they shared a particular interest in the sport.

“I always thought that it was an interesting sport,” Hasan said. “But I never really gave much thought to it until this past year, and then I realized, ‘Oh, it’s actually pretty cool.’”

Added Hwang: “It was kind of something that we both liked, but we hadn’t really talked about it and one day we started talking and it kind of happened.”

Hasan’s brother curls for a local team in San Francisco, which is how he was first introduced to the sport, but Hwang has been a casual fan for the past several years watching it during the Winter Olympics.

They have recently been competing as a team of two, in a sport that traditionally consists of four people to a team, in an adult league at the Ice Chalet. They’ve gone 4-0 thus far this season, which is pretty impressive considering that they have never had an official practice this season. However, the duo plans on adding another member, Max Neveau, to their team within the next week.

Founding the curling team was relatively easy for Hasan and Hwang, but they didn’t just set out to create a curling club at Bearden; they also sought to create Knoxville’s first ever high school curling league.

Hasan is always up for a challenge and so heading up a high school curling league didn’t seem like it was too big of a task to tackle.

Curling is somewhat of a foreign sport to most Bearden students (and to most of the Southeast, for that matter), so trying to introduce curling to a culture that is obsessed with American past times has become a whole other challenge in itself.

Hasan and Hwang began tweeting about their new club in December with the hashtag #BeardenCurling, but Hasan said that for the first two weeks of tweeting about the club, most Bearden students thought that it was just a joke. However, he thinks that people have now started to realize that Bearden Curling is a real club and have started showing a significant amount of support for the team.

“It is an Olympic sport so it does have some legitimacy on the international level, and because it’s not really well known or popular in this area – it’s more popular up in the Great Lakes region – we’re really trying to get something started down here.”

Another huge problem that Bearden’s curling team faces is that they don’t have a place to practice, because the Ice Chalet is the only other place in Knoxville that offers a chance to curl and because they are only able to curl on Wednesdays and Sundays, which is when their competitions are held.

The object of curling is to get your teams stones as close to the center ring (also known as the “house”) while also knocking your opponents out of the house. Points are based on how many stones that your team gets closer to the center of the circle than your opponent.

Hasan said curling that involves much strategy and teamwork between the four different positions, because one has to know when to release the stone and how to go about doing so in the best way possible so that stone can curve down the ice the right way.

“It’s just really fun,” Hwang said. “People might think that throwing a stone on a block of ice is boring – it looks boring – but like when [you] actually try to do it, everything is really complicated and it challenges you.”

The Ice Chalet is holding an event for anyone who would like to learn how to curl on Sunday, and Feb. 12, 16, and 19 to coincide with the Winter Olympics from 8:30-10:30. Admission is free for those under 18 and is $10 for adults. Hasan and Hwang will help to teach the sessions. Students also need a parent or guardian with them to sign some paper work and medical release forms.

“A lot of people think that it’s a joke sport,” Hasan said. “But it’s really not, just give it a chance because it’s actually quite a bit of fun and the whole culture behind it is just really cool, no pun intended of course.”

Hasan and Chanhee have approached West, Hardin Valley, and Farragut high schools on the possibility of founding curling clubs at their schools as well as forming a high school league and have received some positive feedback, but those schools have yet to form teams.

However Hasan and Hwang plan on formally asking those schools if they would like to officially join their league as well as proposing the idea to the Ice Chalet, but Hasan and Hwang’s plans are still about a year away from reality.

Whether or not Hasan and Hwang will be the founders of Knoxville’s first ever curling league is yet to be determined, but they are still making plans to expand and build up their team and hopefully enter in several competitions in the Great Lakes region of Canada this summer. And if for whatever reason they will not be able to create the high school league, they do hope to create a joint team with one of the surrounding schools in the area.

“That’s the eventual goal,” Hasan said. “Whether it’ll happen or not I don’t know, but we have high hopes.”