GRAND FALLS-WINDSOR, NL – Grand Falls-Winsor will have some representation at this year’s Brier.
At the RE/MAX Centre in St. John’s, on Sunday, Feb.4, Andrew Taylor celebrated with skip Greg Smith after defeating Andrew Symonds 9-6 to capture the 2018 Tankard and qualify for this year’s Tim Hortons Brier.
Taylor was born and raised in Grand Falls-Windsor and spent many days at the Exploits Curling Club.
“The old barn,” said Taylor. “When I was in Grade 12, I was lucky enough to be part of a team that represented Grand Falls-Windsor at the provincial winter games. We finished fourth, but it’s probably one of my better memories.”
From “the old barn” to the provincial winter games and now the Brier, it’s been quite a ride for Taylor.
He’ll be competing at the national men’s curling championship against the best the country has to offer, representing a province steeped in curling history.
“It’s a tremendous honour,” said Taylor. “When you think about the people that have won in this province, and to have your name up there with those that represented the province before, it means a lot.”
The win didn’t come without a little adversity.
After going 8-0 in the round robin, Smith automatically advanced to the tournament final. Thankfully for the eventual provincial champs, Newfoundland and Labrador has a double-life rule; after losing to Symonds on Saturday 9-4, Smith had another opportunity on Sunday.
This time, the team never faltered in its quest.
“After we lost the first game of the final, we sat down together as a team and talked about what we did wrong, how we could fix it and how we could win the next game,” said Taylor. “We looked at how they played their game and we talked about how we fell into the way they play. We figured out how to go about that and we executed well and stole five points in in the first two ends.”
In an interview with CBC following the final, Taylor credited fitness to the team’s success at provincials.
Not a lot of people think curling and fitness go hand-in-hand, but Taylor said after playing eight round-robin games, followed by two in the final, it was proper fitness that gave the team the physical and mental edge.
“When you’re physically fit, it allows to be much more concentrated on what you’re doing. When you’re eating healthy on a regular basis…it gives you that extra energy at the end of the week, especially when you have an eight-game round robin. Myself, I gave up drinking in October, and I never had a sip of alcohol from then until provincials, and I credit that a lot.”
The province will have two teams of curlers at the Brier, as Brad Gushue will be competing as Team Canada.
Taylor said the two teams have been in contact, adding the Gushue rink has been nothing but supportive in this journey to the biggest curling competition in Canada.
“It’s not often you get to go to a Brier, and we get to go with Brad and the guys who are there as Team Canada. It’s an indispensable asset,” said Taylor. “We’ve been luck already to have been chatting with them to get their opinion on a few things and they’ve offered their help. The boys are awesome.”
Born and raised
Growing up in Grand Falls-Windsor, Taylor also spent a lot of time at the baseball field in the summer. While he was curling in the winter, his father, Art, was coaching hockey.
Despite the two spending time around different sheets of ice, Taylor credits his father for supporting him and encouraging him to stick with curling.
“Dad coached hockey is entire life,” said Taylor, who also credits local coaches Charlie Fennimore and Joe Tremblett.
“I know there was a couple of times I wanted to quit curling, and he said, no, you’re committed to playing curling so you’re going to do it that way. Dad wasn’t really hands on when it came to curling, and he let me do my own thing.”
With so many young curlers spending time in small rinks across the province dreaming of one day making it to the Brier, Taylor urges them to stick with the sport like he did.
He also had some other words of wisdom for young curlers, including celebrating the small steps and not getting too down when things go wrong.
“I never, ever thought I would have the chance to do it, but I always stuck at it because I love the game,” said Taylor. “Do one small thing at a time, don’t try and take the huge step, and don’t get frustrated when you don’t win.
“Once you learn how to lose you’ll learn how to win.”