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February 15, 2007

Two women curlers win Silver Medals at Deaflympics

From: Beverly Van Pelt - Feb 15, 2007

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February, 2007. Mountain View, CA. Two San Francisco Bay Area women, JoDee Dike-Johnson and Karen Officer, both deaf, have spent the last 7 months curling and making history as they competed for Team USA in Women’s Curling at the Deaflympics on February 1-10, 2007, winning the Silver Medal Curling at the Games.

Next, with 2 other women from the Mountain View and Monterey Areas, they will be competing on the Women’s Club Curling team from the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club (SFBACC), which recently won the 2007 Mountain Pacific Curling Association Championship in Seattle, WA, and will travel to the Club Nationals in St. Paul, MN from March 4-10, 2007 to compete against 9 other regions of the United States. This is the first competitive women’s team from the state of California to win a regional event and to qualify for the national competition. The SFBACC’s women’s team consists of Team Skip -Gabrielle Coleman (31), Vice-Skip -Beverly Van Pelt (40), Second - JoDee Dike-Johnson (41), Lead -Karen Officer (41), and coach -Barry Ivy (53). Dike-Johnson and Officer
Officer and Dike-Johnson’s Women’s Club Curling team curls primarily at the Logitech Ice in San Jose and Sharks Ice in Fremont, the practice arenas of the San Jose Sharks. They also have practiced with the Wine Country Curling Club in Vacaville.

Karen Officer of Mountain View, CA is a teacher at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont. She attended CSU Northridge and graduated from the Rochester Institute of Technology in New York, one of the largest programs for the deaf, with a Bachelor of Science. While growing up, Officer was an all around athlete (softball, flag football & volleyball) and was involved with gymnastics most of the time. She is also a cyclist.
In March, 2006, at Deaf Ski Week at Telluride, Colorado, a friend asked her to consider trying out for the US Curling Team for the Deaf Olympics 2007 in Salt Lake City because there was no US team and it would been a shame for the host country to not have one. The Coach was impressed with their naturally athletic abilities and thought they should train to compete for the team.

JoDee Dike-Johnson of Fremont, CA has been a Physical Education instructor at the California School for the Deaf in Fremont, since 1989. She has participated in the Summer Deaflympics three times: 1993, for basketball, 1997 for bowling, 2001 for team handball, and now in the Winter Deaflympics in 2007 for curling. Karen Officer asked if she’d like to try a new sport, and she began curling in July, 2006 when The San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club, with Sharks Ice in Fremont, offered a Beginning Curling class. When the club offered the Advanced Curling Class, she and Officer joined the Coleman and Van Pelt to form the Competitive Club Team.

Gabrielle Coleman of Mountain View, CA is a newscast director at KNTV (NBC) News. She holds a B.A. in Art from Princeton University. Gabrielle started curling during the 2006 Winter Olympics. “I’d seen a ton of curling on TV, and then my TV station did a story about the local club holding an open house. I thought it would be a fun thing to do with my brother on a Sunday afternoon, so we went out and gave it a try. The open house was packed, so I only got to throw the rock a few times - and I could barely move it a third of the way down the ice. The crowd was fun, my instructor (Jerome Larson) was great, and I was hooked! Alas, my brother did not continue - but I still hope that he'll pick it up some day and we'll be able to curl mixed together!”

Beverly Van Pelt of Salinas, CA is in mortgage and is a writer. She is a graduate of CSUMB with a B.S. degree in International Entrepreneurship, with an emphasis in Teledramatic Arts & Technology. Though she was born in Wisconsin, home of the US Curling Association, it wasn’t until the 2006 Winter Olympic Games that Beverly sought out more information. Checking online, she found the website for the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club. “They were having an Open House that very weekend so I went to Sharks Ice in Fremont on a Saturday in March, 2006. I was hooked and went to the other Open House at Logitech Ice in San Jose the next day too!”

In April 2006, the club offered a 12-week Beginning Curling Class followed by League play. Capitalizing on the growing interest in Curling due to the Winter Olympics, the Club along with Logitech Ice, offered more beginning classes and added an Advanced Curling Class. Van Pelt explains, “It’s been a great opportunity learning from experienced and competitive curlers, and playing in leagues of all levels. I don’t mind traveling 60 miles to San Jose on Tuesday nights and 72 miles to Fremont on Saturday nights to play a physical sport that challenges the mind and inspires friendship!”

Barry Ivy of Livermore, CA (originally from Kapuskasing, Ontario, Canada) is the team coach, and works as an Instrument Technician II, for the Alameda County Water District in Fremont, CA. He has an Hons. Bachelors in Sociology & History from McMaster University and a 5 yr. Diploma in Industrial Instrumentation & Controls from British Columbia Institute of Technology. He curled competitively in Canada for years, finishing second in Juniors, won CUAA 3 times as well as several club championships and multiple zone playdowns for Vancouver Island. After moving to the US he competed in 9 Mixed Nationals championships, and numerous men's playdowns and 2nd chance appearances.

On his first time as an official coach, Ivy says, "Teaching and coaching 4 first year women curlers has been my biggest curling challenge in 40 years. (And I thought 9 years of mixed nationals was tough!) Gabrielle, Beverly, JoDee and Karen have an insatiable desire to learn and improve at a rate that I did not think possible has been inspiring to me."

According to the team, “One of the biggest challenges of arena curling is financial. A year of curling can cost thousands - and that doesn't include long distance travel to bonspiels! We need to attract sponsors and donations to underwrite some of the costs we face in this sport.”

The San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club was founded in 1958 in Mountain View. Most years, the club has played on arena ice. It was a charter member of the California/Oregon Association, which has now expanded to become the Mountain Pacific Curling Association (MoPac) and includes clubs from Oregon, Utah, Idaho, and Arizona. The club has been curling in San Jose since 1994. After the 2006 Torino Olympics, the club grew rapidly, and now partners with Logitech to provide classes and leagues. There are currently about 15,000 curlers in the United States with over 1.3 million in Canada. Increasingly, hockey players are also curlers.

Source: (
The 16th Winter Deaflympics was held in Salt Lake City USA (SLC) February 1-10, 2007, and offered competition featuring the world’s best deaf athletes. The Deaflympics, founded in 1924, is the second oldest international multi-cultural sports event in the world, surpassed only by the Olympic Games which were founded in 1894. The games are built on 80 years of tradition. Organized since 1924 by the Comité International des Sports des Sourds, CISS (The International Committee of Sports for the Deaf), the first Summer Deaflympics were held in Paris. Winter Deaflympics were added in 1949. The Summer and Winter Deaflympics are sanctioned by the International Olympic Committee, IOC. Source: 16th Winter Deaflympics (

Curling history dates back to continental Europe and may have been brought to Scotland by the Vikings. The Scots, however, are the undisputed developers and formalizers of the modern game. Curling appeared as a demonstration sport in four Olympic Winter Games: 1924 in Chamonix, France, Lake Placid in 1932, 1988 in Calgary, Alberta, Canada, and 1992 in Albertville, France. Curling made its Olympic medal debut at the 1998 Games in Nagano, Japan.
The Game is played between two four-member teams who use stones (maximum weight of 44 lbs) with different colored handles. Each game consists of ten ends, which are similar to innings in baseball. During an end, each team member alternates throwing stones toward a circular target area, called the house, the center of which is approximately 93 feet away. Vigorous sweeping by two teammates actually melts a thin top layer of the ice surface, reducing the friction between the stone and the ice. This sweeping helps the stone travel straighter and farther, increasing the distance by as much as 10 ft. Only one team scores points per end. The team with their stones closest to the center of the target area, called the button, gets one point for each stone between the button and the opposing teams nearest stone. After each end is completed, play is switched to the house at the other end of the sheet. Source: US Curling Association (

Two of the four team members, JoDee Dike-Johnson and Karen Officer, are deaf but coming together as a Women’s team has been fun and a good challenge for all of them. Effective communication is essential to successful curling teams – so having 2 deaf and 2 hearing team members has presented an opportunity to build new skills. And as a team sport, Curling is an exercise in team communication.

According to Van Pelt, "Signing gives us a unique advantage. In noisy rinks, it can be impossible to hear the instructions from your skip. Because we sign, calls don't get confused. And, learning to communicate has really brought us together as a team."

For more information, please call Beverly Van Pelt at (831) 236-0903. Check out the website: for more information about the team.