Nicholas Mercer

Curling: The Next Generation - Gushue's nephews preparing to follow in his footsteps

Nicholas Mercer

Curling: The Next Generation - Gushue's nephews preparing to follow in his footsteps

It can be daunting to follow in the considerable footprints left by one of curling’s best, but that's not stopping Brad Gushue's nephews.

While Gushue was competing for a second world championship, his nephews Parker Tipple, 16, and his 15-year-old brother Spencer — the sons of Gushue’s sister, Natasha — were competing for a curling championship of their own.

The Tipple brothers have their eyes set on representing Newfoundland and Labrador at the 2023 Canada Games, and won the right to compete just as their uncle was eyeing another crack at Sweden and skip Niklas Edin in the finals of the world tournament.

While it isn't fair to compare Gushue and his young nephews, or hold his accomplishments up against them, the Tipple brothers put it all on the line to win their first provincial curling competition and secure a sliver of bragging rights amongst the family’s curlers.

And, they managed to get the one up on their uncle: if you can believe it, representing the province at the Canada Games is perhaps the only thing missing from Gushue’s career resume.

“The conversation around the dinner table might get a little more interesting now,” said Parker a few days after winning the playdowns.

The team got the nod after defeating Team Perry 6-3 in the final of the Newfoundland and Labrador Canada Games playdowns held at the St. John’s Curling Club on April 10.

Joining Parker and Spencer at the Games will be team second Jack Kinsella and lead Isaac Manuel. The team is coached by Andrew Manuel.

“It's all amazing coming back stronger and winning the Canada Games playdowns,” said Parker.

En route to the win

The tournament was Team Tipple’s third high-profile provincial tournament in the last couple of months. First, there was the under-21 tournament, where they finished with a record of 2-3.

Next came the provincial under-18 competition late last month in Stephenville. They finished the tournament 2-4 but could feel their game starting to pick up.

The group finally broke through in the Canada Games playdowns. For Parker and Tipple, it was their first provincial tournament win.

“We didn’t play too bad in the under-21s, and then we played a lot better in under-18s. But then, when it came to the playgrounds, we played amazing,” said Spencer.

Since the news of the team’s victory at the playdowns broke, they’ve gotten public congratulations from their uncle and his teammate Mark Nichols.

Nichols represented the province at the Canada Games in 1995 in Grande Prairie, Alta. Their mother, Natasha, curled at those Games as well.

“We were talking to (Gushue) before because he was just wishing us good luck before the finals, but it's just great to see him tweet it out and congratulate us, you know,” said Spencer.

Hard work ahead

While the team still has some league play remaining in this curling season, the work will continue improving their skills over the next several months as they prepare for the Games.

At the top of that to-do list is getting stronger and preparing themselves mentally for one of Canada’s premier amateur athletic events.

“We need to have a bit better communication because that was off in the playdowns,” said Parker. “We're going to work on that a lot and work on our releases and all that kind of stuff.”

When it comes to the technical aspects of the game, one of the world’s best curlers is only a phone call or a text away.

On some nights, he’ll even be across the dinner table from them.

“On the games (Gushue) does watch, he’ll let us know, ‘you can do this shot or maybe you could have fought over this one,' but like, we do it both ways. Sometimes I asked him and sometimes he just lets me know,” said Parker.

They’re aiming to be at the top of their games when the competition starts next February.

“It's going to be tough in PEI, but where we get the whole year to train. We're hoping that we can beat a lot of other provinces,” said Spencer.

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