BISMARCK, N.D. – In a “sweeping” change to state law, Gov. Doug Burgum today signed Senate Bill 2229 designating curling as the official sport of North Dakota.
Among those joining Burgum for the bill signing ceremony were Alaina Schmit, a sixth-grader from Horizon Middle School in Bismarck who brought the idea forward and lobbied lawmakers to pass it, and the bill’s prime sponsor, Sen. Sean Cleary of Bismarck, along with co-sponsors, Sens. Judy Lee of West Fargo and Scott Meyer of Grand Forks and Reps. Jason Dockter of Bismarck and Karen Rohr of Mandan.
“We’re grateful to Alaina for having the courage to bring this idea to her local legislators – she really swept them off their feet – and to Sen. Sean Cleary for introducing SB 2229 and the Legislature for approving it,” Burgum said. “Curling is a lifelong activity and the ultimate team sport, embodying all that we love about sports in North Dakota: honesty and fair play, respect for the rules and one’s opponent, and humility with good sportsmanship.”
Cleary introduced the bill on behalf of Schmit, who with friend and fellow Horizon sixth-grader Etta Knapp made their case with a long list of facts about curling, including:
- North Dakota has 11 curling clubs – more per capita than any other state.
- It has a long history here; the state’s first curling club was founded in 1901 in Drayton.
- The 2022 U18 Girls’ National Champions are from North Dakota.
- The North Dakota State University curling team won the 2019 College Curling Championship.
- North Dakota has at least four members in the U.S. Curling Hall of Fame.
- Of the 10 individuals representing Team USA recently at the Junior World Championships in Germany, three were from North Dakota.
- The World Men’s Curling Championships have been held in Bismarck and Grand Forks.
- Curling continues to gain interest in North Dakota, with at least eight clubs undergoing renovations, expansions or enhancements to meet current and future needs.
Schmit, who started curling at age 6, stated in her testimony, “Curling is a good sport for hanging out with people and it’s good exercise in the winter. Another great thing about curling is that it is a lifetime sport. Everyone can play young and old, a large number of people, a few people, and a whole family can play! (if they know the rules of course)”
The bill passed the Senate 30-17 and the House 72-21.
“Curling has a unique history in North Dakota and will make for a novel state sport. I’m grateful for my colleagues and advocates for their support of this bill,” Cleary said.
Video of the bill signing ceremony can be found on the governor’s Facebook page.