One of the Mission District’s very own — local activist Adriana Camarena — is leading Mexico’s first female curling team to the world stage during an international curling showdown in Eveleth, Minn., on Thanksgiving Day. 

Camarena, 49, is known locally for advocating for the victims of police shootings and their families. She does not live in a place where water freezes naturally. So it may come as a surprise that she’s also an accomplished curler, and her team’s “skip,” or captain. 

I always keep my own country close to my heart,” said Camarena, a Mexico City native. “To be able to represent Mexico on the international stage is very special.” 

Curling is an Olympic winter team sport in which players slide “stones” on an ice rink toward a target, while other players sweep the ice in front of the stone to regulate friction and, thus, the stone’s “curl.” It’s widely popular in Northern Hemisphere countries like Canada and Norway. The United States’ men’s team, improbably, captured gold in the 2018 Games. And the U.S. women’s team, whom Camarena and her team will be facing off against this week, placed eighth overall in the 2018 Games.   

Adriana Camarena in Mexico’s uniform.

But 2019 has been a big year for Mexico’s curling scene. In April, for the first time, Mexico sent a curling team to an international competition, which took place in Norway — and which Camarena participated in. The “mixed doubles” team, a male-female duo, placed Mexico 46th out of 48 countries, ahead of Nigeria and Saudi Arabia. 

Although Mexico did not win a round, it was their first international foray — and the team claimed the highest accuracy rate (43 percent) of the “rookie” teams, such as Ukraine and Nigeria. By comparison, Camarena said a high-level team like Norway may boast an 80 percent accuracy percentage.

Camarena got into the sport nine years ago, staying up late to watch the Olympics curling matches and eventually trying it herself at the San Francisco Bay Area Curling Club. “I learned to curl and it stuck,” she said. “It’s one of those sports that has an endless amount of technique and new information you can learn — it never ends.”  

Camarena and her four teammates will be going up against Brazil and the United States at the Americas Challenge, an event that will determine qualifiers for the World Women’s Championship 2020 and the World Men’s Championship 2020.

Those teammates include Angélica Pérez Anzures, Estefana Quintero Torres, Monica Tompkins, as well as the team’s coach, Robbie Gallaugher. 

“Words cannot suffice to say how excited we are to have this opportunity!” wrote Camarena in a $2,500 GoFundMe drive seeking assistance for the team’s airfare and lodging. It’s currently at $380. 

“We know the competition will be tough, world-class in fact,” Camarena added, “but we’ve put together a team that will act professionally, in the spirit of curling, and fight to make every stone count!”