A thrill worth the chill

FL’s Mike Retica wraps up another season of curling

Clint Riese
Sports Editor

Forest Lake resident Mike Retica, 72, views the unique sport of curling as a fun way to stay in shape. The Hibbing native also works part-time at RDM Insurance Agency in Circle Pines and at TPC Twin Cities golf club in Blaine. (Photo by Clint Riese)

A sport involving a 40-pound weight and a sheet of ice may not seem like an ideal activity for a senior citizen. Yet Mike Retica loves curling enough to drive to St. Paul to compete a couple times per week, half the year round.

And the 72-year-old knows a thing or two about sports. The son of a famous prep basketball coach, he played that sport in college and officiated it for over 15 years more recently.

The Forest Lake resident is also big into golfing – he originally came to town in 1973 as the professional at Forest Hills Golf Club and currently works at TPC in Blaine.

But each fall when Retica puts the clubs away, the Hibbing native takes up the native sport of the Iron Range.

“People laugh, but it’s the best exercise you can get and you don’t even realize you’re exercising,” he says. “You push and slide, the rock is 42 pounds, you’re lifting it and throwing it and you’re sweeping.”

The insurance agent began curling in Hibbing in 1966. Upon moving to Forest Lake for the second time in 2004, he hooked up with a recreational league at the St. Paul Curling Club.

Retica’s teammates hail from Eveleth, Gilbert and Duluth and he estimates that 125 Iron Rangers curl at the club, which will celebrate its 100th anniversary next year.

The father of two and grandfather of five also curls in Cambridge from time to time. His league in St. Paul ends in April, but Retica is also looking forward to trying out the year-round ice at a 28,000-square-foot addition proposed to be built this year at Blaine’s Fogerty Arena.

Curling teammates Mike Retica of Forest Lake, right, and Mark Lokowich discuss strategy during a match at the St. Paul Curling Club last month. (Photo by Clint Riese)

The club in St. Paul has a “blood and guts” league for the most serious curlers, but Retica’s division is more for entertainment, and there is also a league strictly for senior citizens.

“If you’re still competitive, you like to win, but at the same time, you have a good time with good people,” he said. “It’s friendly. You want to throw a good rock, you want to make a good shot, you want to sweep to make a shot good, but if you don’t, you don’t. It’s not the end of the world.”

Plus, the sport keeps Retica from having to spend part of his busy schedule stuck inside a gym.

“I could never see myself running on a treadmill,” he says.