© Star file photo
Terry Gardner is a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador vision impaired provincial curling team. ‚ÄĒ Star photo by Geraldine Brophy
CORNER BROOK Terry Gardner was only too happy to buy a couple of blind curlers a cold beer.
Gardner, a Corner Brook native, was a member of the Newfoundland and Labrador entry that posted a 2-5 record at the Canadian Vision Impaired Curling Championship held recently in Ottawa.
A tradition at the national blind curling tournament is the winning team buys a jug of beer for the losing team.
Garnder never had to worry about such a gesture last year when he made his debut on the national stage with the provincial team that never won a game despite being very close in a handful of them.
‚ÄúLast year was all about sitting back and everyone else buying the beer, but this time it was actually nice to be in the position to say ‚Äėwe‚Äôre buying the beer for you,‚Äô‚ÄĚ‚ÄąGardner said of the venture to the nation‚Äôs capital.
Gardner was invited back to suit up with the provincial team, coached by Corner Brook native Reg Barry, when the team was ready to represent the province in Ottawa once again.
Newfoundland and Labrador defeated British Columbia 7-6 and shaded Nova Scotia 7-4 for its two wins. Gardner and company lost 9-2 to Alberta to open the tournament and had a close 8-6 loss to Team Canada that went down to the wire. Other tournament games saw the Newfoundland and Labrador squad lose 8-1 to New Brunswick, 9-5 to Ontario and 7-6 to Saskatchewan in its final game of the single round-robin affair.
Gardner played the role of sweeper/second for the first three games of the tournament, but coach Barry opted to make a change and have Gardner throw skip stones for the final four games.
Morris Colbert of St. John‚Äôs threw skip stones for the first three games, which included the 7-6 win over British Columbia, but then Gardner threw final stones and had a 1-3 record in his new role that saw the team pull out a 7-4 win over Nova Scotia.
It was something that Gardner embraced and was comfortable with after he had a few stones under his belt. According to Gardner, the team‚Äôs skip was also in favour of the stratetic move by the coach because he was having trouble dealing with the pressure.
‚ÄúEven though we only won one of the next four they were all close and everybody was complimenting on how well we were throwing,‚ÄĚ he said.
Even though he doens‚Äôt measure success or a great experience on wins and losses, Gardner couldn‚Äôt help but be proud of how far the team has come in just one year.
‚ÄúOh, absolutely. There‚Äôs no doubt about it,‚ÄĚ he said of how the team had improved in just one year. ‚ÄúWe worked better as a team ... being that this was the second year that we‚Äôve been together. We knew a little more about each other and I think that‚Äôs actually where the moves came from because of that. Even though I was throwing skip stones I didn‚Äôt call the game because my vision isn‚Äôt good enough to call the game and the skip (Morris) moved back to third stones and he was happy with that.‚ÄĚ
The annual showcase of blind curling in the country is something that Gardner really enjoys from a social perspective. He enjoys having fun with a bunch of people who share common goals and interests.
‚ÄúEven though it‚Äôs been a year since we seen most everybody there it‚Äôs almost like we seen them yesterday,‚ÄĚ‚Äąhe said. ‚ÄúEverybody is still so friendly. It was no different than sitting down in the curling club in Corner Brook with your buddies.‚ÄĚ
For the annual tournament, an all-star team is selected and this year the coach selected was none other than coach Reg Barry. That was something that made Gardner particularly proud of the way the team handled itself on the ice in Ottawa.
‚ÄúI think that‚Äôs great,‚ÄĚ Gardner said. ‚ÄúThere‚Äôs a lot of experienced curlers up there and lot of people have been with their teams for a long time ... coaches I‚Äąwas thinking about and for Reg to be selected I think was a great honour and I‚Äôm sure he was proud of it.‚ÄĚ