Unlike hockey with the Stanley Cup, one of curling’s most prized trophies is not given to people who win it to bring home and have a day to celebrate.
Nolan Thiessen, however, has been given permission and is bringing the Brier Tankard to the Wheat City.
The two-time Brier champion is bringing the Tankard to the Brandon Curling Club on Oct. 25 as part of a youth curling clinic he’s putting on. The 33-year-old, who now lives in Edmonton and won this year’s Brier as lead for Kevin Koe, Pat Simmons and Carter Rycroft, wanted to give back to the community in which he started to play the roaring the game, and he’s glad that he can follow through on it.
“That’s the biggest thing about it is being able to come home where I learned to curl and I got the love for the game,” Thiessen said. “To be able to share one of the biggest prizes in curling with all the kids there will be a cool experience and hopefully I can teach them something and they can look at the trophy and maybe have some dreams of getting their name on it one day.
“It’s going to be pretty cool. I think the biggest thing is being able to be home and help some kids out and teach them a thing or two and create the love for the game that I have.”
The timing of the event worked really well for Thiessen, who won a World University Games championship while playing lead for Brandon’s University’s team skipped by Mike McEwen in 2003. He doesn’t get to come back to Manitoba to visit with family that often and wanted to make a point of it this winter.
So Thiessen is coming early for the Grand Slam of Curling’s Masters, which starts on Oct. 28 in Selkirk, to see family and put on the clinic. He’ll then join his team — which has John Morris replacing Koe at skip — in Selkirk. The timing also work well for the Brandon Curling Club as it will have Canadian curling’s most valued trophy in the building during its 125th anniversary celebrations.
The details of the clinic are still being worked out, and a registration announcement will be made later, but Thiessen is thinking about having smaller groups on the ice with him so he can work on some finer points with kids of different ages.
“I’ll try to keep the numbers lower so the kids can have more one-on-one,” Thiessen said.
“It’s hard when there’s 60 kids and one real person who’s teaching, so I’ll try to keep the numbers a little lower, run a few different groups through and keep the age groups similar so the kids are at the same level,” Thiessen added. “If you have an eight-year-old and an 18-year-old out there, it’s two different things I’ll be talking about. We’ll have a couple different groups and have the specific teaching points apply to that group.”
As for the upcoming season, Thiessen is trying not to think about it too much right now. He has some vacations plans with his family that he’d rather enjoy first, although he is training for the winter months.
This curling season will be a little different for Thiessen with a new skip and an automatic berth into the Brier as the first-ever Team Canada. Also, this year won’t count toward deciding who will make the next Olympic Trials, so the focus is more on the cash circuit, the Brier and the world championship.
Thiessen believes the key to his team having success is to make Morris feel comfortable and allow him become the leader of the team. He also feels it will be fun with so many players creating new teams and fans getting used to seeing different foursomes together on the ice.
“It will be an exciting season because of so many changes,” he said. “I think (Mike) McEwen and (Brad) Jacobs are the only two teams that stuck together. It will be very intriguing for fans and there will be a few weird looks the first time everyone is on TV because it will be like ‘I forgot that guy’s playing with him.’ It will be an interesting season for everybody and I’m looking forward to it.”