Retired teacher Bill Hartmann has a passion for croquet. And now he is using his connections with the Gamewell Middle School (Lenoir NC) to bring croquet to a new generation of players. He has developed and leads the school’s new croquet club. First he had to clear up a few misconceptions. Hartmann describes an introductory class:
“Are we going to be sewing rugs together?”
“Does your hair need to be white too?” asked the sixth-grade girl.
“No,” said the coach. “Just your shirt, pants, shoes, and socks.” Another wondered what do you do when it rains.
“If it is a tournament, you keep playing. At the State Championships it poured, like it is right now. You put on your rain outfit, get soaked, and huddle by the fireplace, hoping to dry out.”
“Did you win?”
“No, I was runner-up, I took second.”
“Wow! He took second at state.” I was grinning and embarrassed as I tried to explain third flight amid the spontaneous cheering and clapping.
The program currently has over thirty students, and Hartmann expects to recruit a total of about sixty. Students begin with Golf Croquet and “toequet”, played by kicking soccer balls through specially made wickets. The program is a USCA-registered club. Hartmann will bring a group of students to a two-day clinic at Pinehurst in March, and plans to bring a team to the North Carolina Club Teams doubles tournament in July.