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Wauwatosa Curling Club makes sport accessible for veterans

Posted at 6:46 PM, Feb 17, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-18 21:15:55-05

WAUWATOSA, Wisc. — Curling may be played on the ice, but in 2018 it caught fire as Wisconsin native Matt Hamilton and Team USA went on to win gold.

Keeping that fire burning just outside Milwaukee is the Wauwatosa Curling Club. It is growing the game by making it accessible to anyone willing to try.

"My mom and dad have been curling for 48 years. I starting in late 2015, earlier 2016 when I first got hurt," says Jeffery Haagensen, veteran, and adaptive curler."Do it. I mean you can think about it but if you just come out and do it you'll have an absolute blast," says Jeffer

As a Veteran and suicide survivor, Haagensen knows what it's like to start all over.

"Finding programs like this was that balance between people is always pushing you to try new things, but you kind of wants to do it at your own pace," says Haagensen.

An avid curler, Allen Miller has seen what time on the ice can do first hand.

"There are other clubs that do wheelchair curling, but this goes well beyond that. I guess I get emotional when I think about it, because I've seen the results," says Miller.

For the Wauwatosa Curling Club, their adaptive program started with the veterans back in 2007.

"We forged a relationship with the spinal cord injury unit and they began bringing veterans from the VA to curl," says Allen.

Still to this day, proudly hosting veterans, Haagensen will admit a sport he ignored most of his life has its moments.

"It looks easy, it is not. That was the first thing I learned. It's not about the competitiveness though, when you talk to people about the relationship they have with their teammates," says Haagensen.

Curling gives a special touch. Allen, and other club members seized a chance to reach a part of the community that is too often limited by society.

"In 2015, we started an adaptive program opened to members of the general community with all levels of physical ability and ages," says Allen. "It [the program] exposes people who normally do not get an opportunity to be out in the community. Not just to be out in the community, but to be out and experience something [curling] that the rest of us kind of take for granted."

Opening its doors to everyone, the Wauwatosa Curling Club embodies the spirit of this Olympic sport, giving Wisconsinites that little push they need to succeed.

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