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Like Father like Son

E.J. Harnden, 2nd for Team Brad Jacobs, 2014 Olympic Gold Medalists

January 24, 2021

There is no denying that when it comes to epic moments in my curling history, winning the gold medal in Sochi at the 2014 Winter Olympic Games, holds a very special place in my heart. However, a uniquely impactful memory for me, is the moment we clinched the Canadian men’s national curling championship title during the 2013 Tim Hortons Brier on March 10 at Rexall Place in Edmonton, Alberta.

The truth is, when I was younger I grew up playing hockey more than I curled. Sure, I dabbled in curling too, but I got into the sport because my dad (Eric Harnden) curled and represented Northern Ontario at multiple Canadian championships.

For as long as I can remember, my dad made a point of reinforcing a self-belief system that “I can do/be whatever I want.” This simple mindset, shaped my entire life.

While I had been playing both sports competitively, I vividly remember idolizing my father’s performances at the curling rink. So, at age 14, when we talked about focusing my efforts on curling or hockey, it wasn’t even a choice.

From a young age I always wanted to do what he did and so curling always held a special place in my heart. Memorable moments like watching my father compete in the 1990 Brier in my hometown of Sault Ste. Marie and hearing the entire crowd chanting “Harnden! Harnden! Harnden!” really amplified my excitement for the sport and kick-started my dream of wanting to also compete in a Brier one day.

Flashforward to the 2013 men’s national curling championship, I was now a Brier champion. The moment we won, I beelined straight for the stands. I got into the crowd, and jumped over rows of seats. My only focus was my dad, the person who inspired my dream and then was there every step of the way to help me achieve it. I hugged him as tight as I could and both of our eyes welled up with tears.

Some people only ever get to see their heroes on T.V., but I got to live with mine. To be able to win a Canadian championship is one thing, but to have my dad present to witness it, is a moment that I will cherish forever.

Now, as a dad to a son (3) and daughter (5), myself, I want to inspire/support/guide my kids in all the same, powerful ways my dad did and continues to do for both my brother, Ryan and I.