Un joueur de curling junior chante lors du Brier Tim Hortons 2017
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In 2017, the Tim Horton’s Brier was set to take place in St. John’s Newfoundland for just the second time, the first being way back in 1972. My son, Alex, was 11 years old at the time and had been a junior curler at the St. John’s RE/Max Centre for several years. Alex and his best bud Noah Hawkins were curling on a team with Brad Gushue’s nephews, Parker and Spencer Tipple. As you can imagine, their love of curling was immense!!!!
There was so much excitement in the air as the Brier got closer! Newfoundlanders are proud folk and everyone was so proud of our very own Olympic Gold Medalists, Team Gushue, and excited to cheer them on at the Brier. Organizers made sure there were fun opportunities for junior curlers across the province, perhaps to carry a flag, meet a team, and so much more. We learned organizers were also looking for people to sing the National Anthem. Alex had experience singing in school plays and recitals, and thought this would be very fun. So, he sent in an audition video and a few weeks later, we learned he was selected!!! He was pretty excited!!
When the day came that Alex was set to sing, our whole family set out for the Mile One Centre. It’s a fairly small stadium compared to others, but it was packed to its 6000 person capacity. Alex was brought backstage and accompanied by Laura Phillips, the coordinator responsible for the success of the Junior Curling Program at the St. John’s RE/Max Centre. We sat in anticipation and after all the teams entered the stadium, out stepped our sweet boy to the center. As the announcer said ‘Please stand and join us in singing the National anthem with Alex Hanrahan.”, Brad Gushue was stood next to Alex and gave him a quick fist pump for good luck. He started to sing “Oh Canada” so beautifully and so clear. As he sang “God keep our land, glorious and free’, you could hear the 6000 fans singing along with him. When he ended with “We stand on guard for thee”, the crowd was going crazy. The music kicked in, a super upbeat “I’m proud to be an Islander and I’ll be one til I die” which we all know as Islander by Shanyganock. All the curlers took to the ice to begin their warm up. What an incredible moment this was for Alex and for us, one none of us will ever forget.
We asked Alex afterwards if he was nervous, he said he was not. He looked so small there amongst it all, we were very proud of him. Curling has brought so much fun and many friends to Alex’s life. In 2016, he was awarded with the Brier Bear award during the year end banquet, an award that is given to a player who shows great sportsmanship and team spirit throughout the year. In 2018, he attended the Newfoundland Winter Games in Corner Brook with Team Tipple, the youngest competitors there. In 2018 he attended the hugely successful inaugural Team Gushue curling camp which was an amazing experience and opportunity to learn from the best. Even locking himself out of his room at 3:00AM at the residence where all camp attendees were staying, turned into an fun and silly story we all love to laugh and talk about.
Alex is now 16 years old and still curling competitively, playing and practicing at least 5 times a week. COVID-19 has caused numerous pauses with curling over the last couple of years, however he is very optimistic that the U18 and U21 provincial curling tournaments will still be able to take place.
The curling spirit is alive and well in Newfoundland. Alex is really hoping that the next time he attends the Tim Horton’s Brier, it will be as Team NL. Unless of course, he wins this contest first. 🙂
Thanks for the opportunity.