Saturday, April 7, 2012

Curling a ‘second job’ for brothers

The Observer

The East York Curling Club’s mixed team of men and women is aiming high.

The team earned a ticket to the regional round of the 2012 Ontario Curling Association Mixed tournament, happening tomorrow and Sunday, March 24 and 25, after they won a consolation match in their Zone 7 on Feb. 5.

True, this latest success doesn’t necessarily compare to some of the larger triumphs in the 52-year life of the club — like when it hosted the World Junior Curling Championship in 1974.
But members say the mixed team’s recent success has once again focused attention on the club, its
headquarters at 901 Cosburn Ave., and two of the team’s members: Michael and Matthew Shepherd.

Their parents established the brothers’ close ties with curling and East York. The avid curling couple
began their marriage in East York, and together enjoyed the club’s social atmosphere. They later moved to Newmarket, where the brothers grew up and began their junior curling career, returning often to East York for competition.

The older son, Michael Shepherd, started curling at the age of eight, and after a pause during high school, resumed his competitive curling career as a skip in East York. He now curls three nights a week and weekends, visiting clubs throughout southern Ontario.
“It is definitely a big part of my life. I almost see it as my second job, as I have to put much time into it,” he said. “I do have goals I want to achieve as a curler: to make it to the men’s provincial championships.”

Curling also helps him take a break from regular life.
“Curling is a good, social game, although it sometimes can get stressful when preparing for competitive games. You feel good, especially as you socialize with whom you’ve played with after the games,” he added. “Not a rule, but it’s expected that the winning team buys the losing team a round of drinks. Next round, the losing one does it back.”

The people he’s met through games are not curling’s only benefit.
He also enjoyed the time he spent curling with his family. Although it was quite a distance from their
home, good times with his parents inspired him to return to East York and develop his curling career.

Three years of playing with his brother and teammate, Matthew Shepherd, have been a joy for him.
“Because there’s a seven-year gap between us, we didn’t get along when we were little. But we do a
lot better now,” he said. “On the ice we have this comfort level, with my brother and close friends Heather and Laurie in my team. We’ve played together for years so that we listen well and take each others’ opinions.”

Shepherd added that he’s confident his team has a chance to go to the Canadian championships this time, since they nearly made the provincial championships two years ago.

This article had been published on the East York Observer March 23 edition.

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