The sport of curling may not receive the same attention as figure skating or snowboarding at the Winter Olympics, but it does have its share of fans. In fact, at the University of Nebraska–Lincoln College of Business Administration, two students – Cameron Binder and Katherine Mitenko – lead the Nebraska Curling team.
“In curling, people bond immediately as it’s a very social sport,” said Binder, a junior business administration and economics major. “Curlers have a tradition called broomstacking where after a match you sit down and socialize with your opponent. Our UNL team also gets to spend a lot of time together carpooling to play in Omaha each week and traveling to out-of-state competitions.”
While most of us might only think of curling during the Winter Olympics, it is a family tradition for full-time MBA student and Omaha, Neb., native Mitenko. Her father played for many years and made it to the U.S. Curling Championships. He also won a few cash curling tournaments, known as bonspiels, in 2003 and 2004.
Katherine Mitenko and Cameron Binder study their game
“I was on the ice as early as two-years-old. My Dad would take me, and I would push stones all the way down,” said Mitenko. “During my freshmen year at UNL, he connected me to Nancy Meyers (Nebraska Curling sponsor and adjunct professor at CBA), who he curled with as part of the Aksarben Curling Club in Omaha, and I joined the UNL team.”
Binder, who is the president of the University of Nebraska Curling Guild student organization, joined his high school team in Mequon, Wisc., after some urging from friends. Later he found lasting friendships by joining UNL’s team as a freshman.
“UNL is a big school with a great reputation, but at the same time it has a small, community feel to it,” he explained. “Similarly with curling, we feel big yet small. We get to help make a national name for the University while bettering our team and ourselves. Our team is tightknit and has people from all different lifestyles, majors, hobbies and hometowns.”
Binder, Mitenko and their teammates qualified as one of the 16 teams to compete at the U.S. College National Championship, March 14-16 in Minneapolis.
The momentum the team has is in part due to the business student duo. They have brought what they learned in the classroom to Nebraska Curling.
UNL curlers Katherine Mitenko, (l), and Haylie Mikulak, (r), sweep ice to adjust trajectory of stone delivered by Ali Creeger
Photo courtesy of Rebecca S. Gratz - The Omaha World-Herald
“My accounting classes have definitely helped me have a better sense of how our budget needs to work. Since we run the club’s finances, we get to have business experience around athletics in that we book our own hotels and transportation, and cut checks for entry fees,” Binder said. “I also have learned a lot about human resources from Nancy (who also works as the director of organization development in UNL Human Resources) and how that fits into team dynamics.”
Mitenko, who is currently doing an internship advocating ecotourism in Nebraska with the Center for Great Plains Studies, said professors at CBA are personable and love helping students achieve. Now she’s paying it forward as a graduate student.
“As a peer mentor for the Marketing 341 class, I get to work with professors Steve Welton (assistant professor of practice of marketing) and Rob Simon (associate professor of practice of marketing) and love getting marketing advice from them,” she said. “At the same time, I get to help students in the class understanding the material as well as hosting review sessions.”
For those interested in Nebraska Curling, the team is actively growing its social media presence with Facebook (https://www.facebook.com/NebraskaCurling
) and Twitter (https://twitter.com/UNLCurling
). The team recruits in the fall.