Harbour Grace native Terry Shea is coach of Jamie Koe’s Northwest Territories team that downed Newfoundland and Labrador 8-4 in the Brier’s Tuesday morning draw.
The 54-year-old Shea, who was born in Carbonear, is a refrigeration contractor who has lived in Yellowknife for almost a decade after working in Corner Brook, British Columbia and St. John’s. His love of curling has grown in all those stops, but began in his hometown when the Conception Bay North Curling Club — the RecPlex — was established in Harbour Grace in 1980, his last year of high school.
That club no longer operates — a furniture store now occupies the space where rocks once slid on ice — but was once a beehive of curling activity.
Shea began as a player, started volunteering at the club and eventually wandered over to the coaching side.
“I became really involved with the junior program. We had about 200 kids at one point,” said Shea, whose curling charges included a 12-year-old Jamie Korab, who would go on to win Olympic gold with the Brad Gushue rink in 2006.
“We’d come in here and battle with Jeff Thomas as juniors, and eventually we were catching up with them.
“We had young guys like Dion Pike and Paul Fifield. Carl Moores, who is an orthopedic surgeon at the Health Science (Centre), he played, too.
“I ran into Tommy Harris, one of the guys who played junior, in the Brier Patch and he said, ‘Remember the good old days, coming into Bally Haly and taking on the townies?’”
Shea also used those trips to incorporate some lessons in curling icemaking, which was becoming of more and more interest to him.
“I worked with Gordon Tilley (at the St. John’s Curling Club) a few times, got some tips and I became fascinated by it.”
He eventually found himself in Corner Brook, making ice at the curling club there, moved back to the eastern part of the province and went to trade school in Burin, earning his refrigeration ticket. Then it was all the way across the country to British Columbia, working with a company called Recreation Excellence.
“I was doing hockey ice as well as curling. One year in Vernon, we worked on Making The Cut (the TV program that provided the winner with an NHL tryout).
“That was pretty interesting, but for me, curling was always No. 1.”
His first Brier was the 1995 championship in Halifax.
“I got on the ice crew. I was mostly scraping, but after that, I got even more passionate about it, and I started doing a lot more research, not just about the ice, but the rocks, too.”
He was also tutored by icemaking legend Shorty Jenkins.
“I was at a few of his clinics and he showed me how rocks can be manipulated and how to achieve different types of pebbling (of the ice). It was challenging, but for me, it was always interesting,” said Shea, who spent a year working at the St. John’s Curling Club before moving to Yellowknife at the behest of the city’s manager of recreation, Placentia native Dave Hurley.
Besides seeing to the curling rink, his contract with the city also calls for him to look after refrigeration units and boilers for other municipal facilities.
“It’s a little more than the icemaking,” he said with a smile.
Shea’s been part of Koe’s rinks for years, and also works with Koe’s twin sister, Kerry Galusha, who has played in 14 Scotties Tournament of Hearts for NWT. But he didn’t get to this year’s Scotties,
“I’ve got a good boss (Hurley), but there is a lot of work and sometimes it’s a struggle to get away from it.”
There was no way he’d be missing this Brier though.
“It’s been great, really everything I thought it would be,” he said. “It’s great to see the place full, but I expected this. You have a contender (in Gushue), right? Everybody knows how close Brad has been to (winning) this and they’d love to be able to say they saw him do it in person.”
Shea has obvious work to do this week at Mile One Centre, but has managed to reconnect with old friends and family, including his sisters Linda and Lisa.
His 84-year-old mother Bridget travelled from Harbour Grace to see him on Saturday.
“Unfortunately she hasn’t been able to make it in (since),” said Shea Tuesday. “But she’s watching on TV. She loves it, but most of all, she knows how much I love it. She knows that curling’s been my life.”