A foursome of young men based out of the Langley Curling Club seem to be burning up the competition circuit this season – and they’re hopeful that streak continues this week during the Canadian nationals.
The team is in Esquimalt for the 2017 Canadian Junior Men’s Curling Championships, and as of Monday, the team was unbeaten 3-0 – including the most recent victory 5-4 win over Ontario’s Matthew Hall rink.
Since their first official game was a bye, they were happy for a chance to get out on the ice, playing games against Nova Scotia and Ontario.
“Both were tight games, but they pulled out the wins in both games,” said team manager Anita Tardi, noting they have two more big games Tuesday against Northern Ontario and Saskatchewan that will hopefully work out well and allow them to move on to the championship rounds.
“Lots of good teams here,” the manager added.
A year after taking bronze, the B.C. team arrived in Victoria with expectations, a situation it’s embracing.
“Well, we like the pressure, especially being the home-province team,” said skip Tyler Tardi.
“And we really like playing with pressure; it feels good, it pumps us up, which we like. But I wouldn’t say there’s a big target; there are around six teams here who are pretty much even,” he said.
Team Tardi is made up of Langley’s lead 21-year-old Nicholas Meister, as well as Cloverdale skip 18-year-old Tyler Tardi, his older sibling and team second Jordan Tardi, 20, and Burnaby’s Sterling Middleton, 18, who plays third. They practise primarily at the Langley Curling Club.
Their home club couldn’t be “more proud” of the young athletes, club president Troy Matsumiya said during a small send off – complete with cake and speeches – last Wednesday night.
“We’re here once again to wish Tyler, Sterling, Jordan, and Nicholas the very best of luck as they continue on their amazing journey through the top ranks of our favourite sport,” he said.
“Guys, I’ve said this many times before, and I hope I’ll say this many times again – because I could get used to this – we are all so very proud of you,” Matsumiya elaborated.
“Not just your successes on the ice, but how you inspire others, including ourselves. You are outstanding sportsmen and exemplary representatives of your club and your province, and have some modest, down to earth, good-natured generosity we all know and love.”
The boys – accompanied by their coach (and father of two teammates) Paul Tardi, and team manager and “Big Kahuna” Mom (Anita) Tardi, jumped on a ferry bound for Vancouver Island Thursday, excited to be heading to the nationals for the second time in as many years and again delighted to be wearing the Team BC colours at a home province competition.
It’s kind of surreal for the boys to be playing before a home BC crowd and to have fans they don’t even know cheering them on, Dad said, explaining that Sterling and Tyler experienced that two years ago during the Canada Games in Prince George.
Having coached his sons for the past seven years, Paul said he is excited to be taking the boys back to the nationals this month, noting three of the four boys played together at the nationals last year and brought home the bronze.
“We’re looking forward to an exciting week,” he said.
Mom was almost giddy during Wednesday’s send off: “I’m so incredibly proud of what these boys have accomplished, and I know they’re going to kick some butt over there,” she told the Langley Advance.
Club manager Robyn Parkes presented the boys with Team BC jackets, and said she couldn’t wait to watch the boys and the jackets on TSN.
“Go guys,” Parkes said.
“Good luck, good curling, and bring home the hardware,” Matsumiya concluded.
Even Cloverdale MLA Stephanie Cadieux was on hand for the rather informal send off.
“I’m really proud of them. They’re doing a terrific job. They’re dedicated and committed, and a great group of kids, and I just want to see them have success,” Cadieux said.
The national championships kick off Saturday, and runs to Jan. 29, with the boys taking to the ice for their first match on Sunday.
After the nationals this month, part of Team Tardi is off to the BC Men’s Curling Championships in Abbotsford from Feb. 8 to 12. If they win that competition, they would represent B.C. at the Tim Hortons Brier in St. John’s Newfoundland March 4 to 12.
As well, a few members of the Langley-based Team Tardi are also bound for Vancouver Island again in March.
This time, Tyler and Sterling – accompanied by coach Paul – are going to be competing in the first ever BC U18 Curling Championships in Nanaimo from March 16 to 19.
The local pair are joined by Scott Gray and Derek Chandler of Victoria who won the BC Junior (U21) Men’s title recently.
The winners will go on to represent BC in the first ever Canadian U-18 curling championships in Moncton, N.B. from April 17 to 22.
Shining on and off the ice
In addition to their efforts on the ice at Archie Browning Sports Centre, the team paid a visit to a nearby elementary school.
A former teacher of the Tardi brothers, Michelle MacFarlane, is now the principal of the school, which is located on the traditional territories of the Esquimalt and Songhees Nations and has a large indigenous population. They took a run out there Friday.
“We walked in and all the kids were waiting for us when we got there; they were all excited — ‘Oh, it’s Team B.C.’,” recalled Tardi on Monday, moments after the game against Hall’s rink.
“For a lot of them, it was their first exposure to curling. It’s nice to get the word out about our sport,” Tardi said.
Many of those kids will return the favour on Tuesday morning when they visit the Archie Browning Sports Centre to watch B.C. play Northern Ontario’s Tanner Horgan in a crucial round-robin game.
“The kids are absolutely excited about coming to the game tomorrow,” said Craigflower vice-principal Jana Dick. “The B.C. team were great ambassadors; the kids loved them.”
That’s just an example of Team Tardi being not just “great curlers” but “great citizens,” too.
They’ve done fundraising work for both BC Children’s Hospital and the Sandra Schmirler Foundation, both Tardi and Middleton won $1,000 scholarships from the Curling Canada Foundation. Tardi added a $5,000 Spirit of Sandra Scholarship from the Sandra Schmirler Foundation — all the result of combining curling prowess with academics and community leadership.
“It just feels good to give back,” said Tardi. “A lot of people give to us, and it’s always a good feeling to give right back.”