What started out as a great way to end the week with some exercise and socializing with good friends in 2003 is now, 18 years later, a large and exciting part of Courtney Chavers Schmidt’s life. The Wittenberg class of 1996 alumna is currently the Chair of the USA Curling Board.
“My husband and I went to an event with his father to try out curling in 2003,” said Schmidt, who is originally from Lafayette, Indiana, but now resides in Gates Mills, Ohio, with her husband, Daniel, Wittenberg class of 1996, whom she met her freshman year.
“I had just started traveling to the West Coast extensively for work that year, so curling was going to be something we could do together when I returned to town in the winter on Friday evenings,” she explained. “It was interesting to get out on the ice and understand how to slide a rock and sweep. There was a wonderful woman who sat with us after we got off the ice and asked what we thought. We told her we were interested in proceeding. She said it was a wonderful life sport (she was about 80 then), and it made the winters go by so quickly. We didn’t believe her then, but it does!”
Schmidt, who earned her bachelor’s degree in economics with a business minor at Wittenberg, went on to earn her J.D. in 1999 at Cleveland Marshall College of Law at Cleveland State University, and is a current member of the Ohio State Bar. Passionate about what she takes on in business as well as her personal activities, Schmidt has had a natural talent for bringing others on board with new ideas and processes, which caught the eye of a wireless technology company, SureSite Consulting Group, in 1999. The group recruited her as one of its first employees and through her initiatives, the company has grown to cover a national territory, offering new and diverse products and services. Schmidt has been with SureSite since day one and has been instrumental in expanding its services across the country and working nationally for the past 15 years.
“At SureSite, I’ve worked on initiating market change, expanding our business capabilities, and broadening the company’s footprint,” said Schmidt, who took the solo initiative to develop and launch the Los Angeles office, which in turn, led to new markets opening in Chicago, San Francisco, and Denver, with a national reach. “The success of expanding the business into new markets created a success story that continues today. When the industry appeared to be trending in a different direction and technology was evolving, I injected new revenue streams by creating a growth plan to ensure services evolved.”
She is using that same business model as the chair of USA Curling where growth is also paramount to the sport. Schmidt and her team know that now is the time, especially as interest has grown in the sport since the 2018 Olympics when Team USA captured its first gold medal ever on the men’s side and second Olympic curling medal ever. The XXIV Olympic Winter Games are scheduled to take place from Feb. 4-20, 2022, in Beijing and towns in the neighboring Hebei province in the People's Republic of China. Team USA has hopes of a repeat title.
“When USA Curling earned a gold medal in 2018, it was very exciting and presented amazing opportunities for the organization,” said Schmidt, who was elected to the board in 2014, became vice chair in 2016, and chair in 2018. “As the chair, it is my duty to ensure the organization has engaged with these opportunities, while staying focused with its strategic plan. It has been a pleasure working with our stakeholders, the United States Olympic & Paralympic Committee (USOPC), and sponsors throughout the last three years. The pandemic certainly has not made things run smoothly, but I believe it will also bring new entrants to curling. People of all ages are looking for experiential activities. Curling is a great life sport and is growing. As we prepare for the upcoming Olympics, we are very focused on bringing more people into the sport.”
Over the years the Schmidt’s say they have met so many wonderful people across the country through the sport and have traveled across the country and in Canada, curling in bonspiels (curling competitions) as a mixed team, as well as with their own men’s and women’s teams. They belong to the Mayfield Curling Club, with other Tigers – Beth Hunter Forsythe ’88, Leslie Sherman Cooke ’77, Rachel Olson Howell ’85, and Bob Howell ’83. There are about 175 members in the club ranging from ages six to 90. Upon holding various board positions at the Mayfield Curling Club from 2006 to the present, Schmidt became a board member of the Great Lakes Curling Association from 2010 to 2018 and moved onto the USA Curling Board in 2014. She will chair the board through the 2022 Winter Olympics.
“We still curl on Friday night. Our daughter, Stella (9), curls, too, in our club’s junior program,” said Schmidt, who is also a current board member for the Epilepsy Association and of the Women’s Wireless Leadership Forum, as well as an avid sailor, a summer passion with her family.