Kell Orlando (Seneca Falls) is not your ordinary Alfred State College student. Orlando, a freshman motor sports technology major taking classes on the Wellsville campus, has his sights set on one day representing the USA in the Olympics on the curling ice.
Introduced to the sport curling as a 6th grader at Cobblestone Academy, Orlando has developed his talents over the years to compete on the national stage.
"At Cobblestone we didn't have a gym so for our physical education class we tried different activities. Activities like white water kayaking, fencing, rock climbing, and curling. When I first tried curling I didn't like it but after three weeks I realized it was fun. Some of the members of the Rochester Curling Club noticed I had excellent form and a good understanding of the game and encouraged me to join the club. I joined the club and having been playing since."
Orlando jumped into the spotlight of US curling in 2006 when his team (Brandon Corbett, Chris Bond, and Derek Corbett) advanced to the regionals. Orlando is the lead on his team. He throws the first two stones setting up the end (one time down the ice) for the rest of his teammates. After throwing his stones he assists his teammate's rocks by sweeping.
"In 2006, we were hoping to get some good practice and see how far we could make it. We ended up making it out of the east coast regionals and advanced to the US Junior Nationals. Our team didn't place as we were not used to cameras and people on the ice with us."
Orlando and his teammates spent 2007 focusing on gaining sponsorships but returned to the US Junior Nationals in 2008. At that competition, the team finished 2nd just behind the current world champions.
"This year we shifted our focus towards our lifelong goal of going to the Olympics. We advanced out of the pre-trials and the east trials. We made it to the west trials in Bismark, ND but were unable to advance to the Olympic Trials. I did end up as a possible Olympic alternate for the 2010 Vancouver Olympics."
One of the teams, Team Shuster, which Orlando competed with in Bismark, will represent the USA at the 2010 Olympics.
At age 18, Orlando's career highlight came this winter when he was able to compete against Pete Fenson, who won a bronze medal in the 2006 Olympic Games, and other past Olympians.
"Fenson is a great inspiration to me. Even more after I got to play against him and get know him as a person. My curling coach Clark Raven is another inspiration. He has shown our team that in order to succeed you have to hold your head up in the hard times, work hard, and if you want it bad enough you can do anything."
Currently, Orlando is balancing the demands of his class work and continuing his curling career. "It is tough balancing both my school and curling schedule but I manage to curl on the weekends and in the leagues in Rochester during the week."