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ESF Bioprocessing Major Competes in World Curling Championship

Student plays on national junior championship team

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ESF senior bioprocess engineering major Derek Corbett helped represent the United States as a member of the national junior curling team that competed in March at the World Junior Curling Championships in Oestersund, Sweden.

"For 11 years, it's been my dream," Corbett said, "ever since I started curling."

The U.S. team finished fifth of the 10 teams in the competition. The gold medal went to Canada, followed by Sweden and Scotland.

Corbett and his four teammates earned the opportunity to compete in the world junior championship by winning the U.S. Curling Junior National Championship in Wisconsin in early February. It was Corbett's seventh time competing at that level; he was on a silver-medal team twice.

A sport not widely known in the United States, curling developed in Scotland in the 16th century. Simply put, it involves sliding a granite stone along a sheet of ice toward a bull's-eye. The winning team is the one that puts more stones near the center of the bull's-eye.

Corbett, who competes on a Massachusetts-based club with two players from that state and two from New Jersey, discovered curling as a middle school student when a physical education class at his private school introduced him to the sport. By coincidence, the national junior championship was held in his hometown of Rochester that year and he attended with his brother.

"We just fell in love with it," he said.

"Curling is a beautiful sport because you can succeed at it without much training. You can have a half hour of training and go out and have a good time," Corbett said. "To be really competitive and get ready for the worlds, you have to put a lot of time into it."

Corbett said curling involves more physical fitness than most people realize along with the finesse of golf. His role on the team is to throw the first two stones and sweep for the following throws.

"I'm very proud of our sweeping. I can literally make or break a throw," he said.

He said it has been a challenge to compete nationally while keeping up with a demanding curriculum.

"My teachers are great. They understand my goals and they are willing to work with me. I have to do all the work and keep up with it but it has been working out," he said.

He stays in shape by working out at the Syracuse University fitness center. He also fits in time to play cello in the Syracuse University symphony orchestra. He tap dances, participates in ballroom dancing and is frequently seen pedaling his unicycle across campus. And he's a licensed pilot.

Corbett said he thrives on "doing too much."

"My extracurricular life helps me succeed. It helps me de-stress," he said. "It helps to balance out the math and science of the engineering curriculum."