I'll admit, when I was a kid, I didn't have my sights set on becoming an Olympian. This was mostly due to the fact that the obscure sport I grew up with and loved didn't become an Olympic sport until 1998 -- about 11 years after I threw my first rock and two years after I first represented my state at the national level. Olympians were the best of the best. They were the athletes I saw only on television, in commercials, in magazines and on billboards. They were superheroes. I was a curler. It didn't really cross my mind that curling might be an Olympic sport and I would someday have that opportunity. I loved to curl and I was pretty good at it. So I curled a lot. I thought that was that.
My teams came close to winning nationals. I began to collect a lot of silver medals. Seriously, second place is tough. But we would pick ourselves up and try again the next year. Then something clicked. My team won junior nationals in 2002 and went on to win junior worlds. It was the first gold medal for a women's team in any division in the U.S.
Ten years after I began curling competitively, my team -- nearly fresh out of the junior category -- won the U.S. Olympic curling trials after an impressive week and went on to represent the U.S. in the Torino Winter Olympics in 2006. That was our goal, our dream. I was a curler, and now I'm an Olympian.
To sum up our Olympics run, we had a great world championship immediately after the Olympic trials -- winning another silver medal. I'm very proud of that silver medal. It was recognition of our hard work and gave us confidence leading into the Olympics. But we didn't fare as well in Torino. We ended up eighth out of 10 teams. The week didn't go as we had hoped. The precision wasn't there. We had some bad luck on key shots.
We didn't have any regrets. We played our best in those moments, and the other teams played better. Now I want to go back and be that better team.
Maybe you're wondering how I got into curling. I was introduced to it because it was like a tradition in my family. My parents curled, their parents curled, and so on. In the very early years, my Sunday nights were spent at the local curling club arena, where my sister and I gathered with other rosy-cheeked kiddies roughly the same age whose parents, like ours, volunteered to teach us how to throw rocks at houses.
Now, if you haven't heard of curling before, that last statement sounds like we were on the path to becoming experts at vandalism, but that's not what curling is. Imagine pushing a polished chunk of solid granite down a sheet of ice toward a target painted just under the surface. Yeah, it's like bowling. And shuffleboard. Even similar to golf in some ways. But it's also much more than that. You might be asking, "Is that where you have the sweepers? And they go back and forth and stuff?" You got it. That is what I do. Well, if you ask my teammates, they would say I don't do much of the sweeping part. Skips tend not to get much credit in that department. We each have our own job out on the ice, much like each player on a football team has their job. But I'll expand on that another time.
For now, I want to introduce myself.
Hi there. I'm Cassie and I'm a curler. To be more precise, I'm the skip, or captain, of a team on the United States Curling Association's High Performance Team. I was also skip of the 2006 Olympic curling team. I'm married, and mom to a 4-month-old little girl. We have two lovable dogs that are complete opposites in personality. Because curling is an amateur sport and doesn't pay the bills, I also have a full-time job.
Life usually gets crazy for me from September through March and this season is no exception. My team is one of a select few that will be competing in the upcoming 2014 U.S. Olympic team trials this November. We will be training hard and traveling more in the months to come, all while juggling families, jobs and life in general.
I would love to wear USA on my back again in Sochi in 2014. Having been to the Olympics before and falling short has been a heck of a motivator for me to get back and do even better. It's not going to be easy and it's going to require a lot of preparation to get there. Throughout this season, I'll be posting here to give you a glimpse into our team's season -- win or lose -- leading up to Sochi, life as an athlete and new mom, and reflections on seasons past.
Is there anything you want to know about our team or curling in general? Contact me via Twitter: @ccpotter