World junior championships of curling are being held next year on Tyler Tardi’s home ice in Langley.
But, the 20-year-old, despite being eligible for another year of junior play, isn’t sure he’ll continue on at that level. Therefore, it’s not known if he’ll be in a position to defend this two-time global junior title, either.
It’s bittersweet news for the Cloverdale skip, who curls out of Langley Curling Centre.
The news that he might retire out of juniors early was shared during a homecoming congratulatory celebration offered when he and the team returned from Nova Scotia last week with their gold medals.
Tyler has been playing in the juniors for the past four seasons, winning the Canadian title three times in a row, and the worlds twice.
The lastest victory, in Liverpool, N.S. last month earned the team a special invitation to play in the Humpty’s Grand Slam championship in Saskatoon in April.
But, that may very well be it for the junior version of Team Tardi, which their coach and Tyler’s father, Paul, explained could be a good thing – at least for he and his wife.
Due to age restrictions for players in junior curling, Tyler has watched many of his close friends and even his older brother leave the team. After the Grand Slam,Tyler will be saying goodbye to another two teammates – Alex Horvath and Matthew Hall – who are both aging out.
He and vice-skip Sterling Middleton (who’s been with Tyler for the past two years), both qualify to play another season at the junior level.
But, Paul said, Tyler has his eye on competition at the men’s level.
Now his son is faced with the hard choice of pulling together a new junior team that he could play with during his final year, or, he could look to move up to the adult level this fall.
Tyler said no decision has been made yet. The team is just trying to soak in and enjoy their recent win and focus on finishing out the season. Not only does the team have the Grand Slam, but Tyler is competing, along side his girlfriend Dezaray Hawes, in the Mixed Double Curling Championships happening in the middle of this month – back in the Maritimes.
If Tyler and Sterling choose to stick it out at the junior level for another year, Dad said he’ll be there with them.
But, for Dad, who’s been coaching the boys for the past four year, retiring from his coaching duties (whether that be this year or next) will be a welcome change.
During the winter months, when he gets time away from his hectic daytime job in pharmaceutical research with leukemia drugs, he’d like to head somewhere tropical to relax with his wife, Anita.
“I’d like to go somewhere warm in the winter, instead of the cold curling rinks,” he said, only half joking.
It’s been a great experience and he’s found coaching his boys – and their various “adopted” sons (the fellow teammates, some of whom have lived with them during curling season) – rewarding.
But Paul said he’s a parent coach who happens to have hooked up with a “rock star” team and ridden their coat tails to numerous championships. He’s nothing more than a curling enthusiast, who’s under no illusion he’s capable of accompanying Tyler – or any of the other boys – into the much more fierce reality of men’s competitive curling.
“I can fake it at the juniors, but I’m not at that level,” Paul shared with the Langley Advance Times. “It’s a big leap to the competitive level – the men’s level. It’s a big step.”
Whatever lies ahead on the curling front for their boys, it promises to be exciting, Paul said, noting he and Anita (who has served as the team manager through all the years) will continue to support the boys – just not to the same degree as in recent years.
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