Team Gushue are not the only ones basking in the glory of their moment in the spotlight.
Following the first Brier championship for one of the world’s top curling teams, it appears some parts of the province were still in party mode Monday.
When five people from La Scie, led by 42-year-old Todd Clance, arrived back from their week in St. John’s to watch that last rock thrown by Brad Gushue slide just far enough to secure the victory, the community wanted to join in the festivities.
Clance — his mom Sheila and three family friends Madge and Sheila Toms and Barbara Tibbo — were there to see it all. But, he was not just another of the 5,000-plus who rocked Mile One Stadium for every draw of the 2017 Brier. An avid fan who never misses a curling match on the television, Clance and his crew travelled across the province to witness the historic win for Newfoundland and Labrador in person.
Suffering all his life from epilepsy and cerebral palsy, Clance is never one to let his disabilities hold him down. He is a well-known and beloved figure throughout La Scie and somewhat through the Baie Verte Peninsula.
His hope was to get to meet the members of his cherished Team Gushue and the members of the TSN commentators led by Russ Howard, during the Brier. For the competition, it was “Brad all the way,” he said prior to the trip. It was mission accomplished on all fronts. Yet, it was so much more than he could have ever imagined.
He met many of the curling greats from across the country. They spoke with him, stopped for pictures, and entertained this man’s dream experience. The four ladies and Clance felt they became part of the tournament, recognized and acknowledged by its volunteers. They were allowed to fill some of the empty seats near ice level throughout the competition, getting an up-close, first-hand look at Team Gushue earn the colours of Team Canada for the first time in their 14 years.
“It was the trip of a lifetime that I will never forget,” Clance said Monday. “It was a shock that I just can’t get over, that he won it in his own province of St. John’s, Newfoundland (and Labrador). It was just amazing.”
Clance said the atmosphere at the Brier was exciting, and he was proud to be part of it.
“Oh my son, I tell you, everything was just amazing,” he said. “It was really loud, the place was going crazy. The flags were going, and the banner was going, and I was crying. I just couldn’t believe it.”
That was a moment his mother will never forget. As much as the whole experience meant to her, sharing it with her son and their friends, one little moment made it all worthwhile.
“The most touching moment for me was (Sunday) night when the game was over and they sang ‘Oh Canada’, Todd was stood there by me singing at the top of his voice,” she said. “When I looked at him, here was a tear just trickling down his face. It was just so amazing.”
For Todd, St. John’s became a home-away-from-home for one very special week.
“When I get home, I am going to tell so many great stories about what St. John’s was like to me,” he said. “You would never imagine how much the people of St. John’s meant to me. The volunteers, they treated me like a king, and the players, they all treated me perfect. They were all nice, and they patted me on the back and shook my hand.
“Oh my goodness, what a trip.”
After the long trek back across the province, tired out from the week-long emotions of it all, there was one more special moment awaiting. People at home in La Scie were thrilled to read about how excited he was for the trip, and had been following along with their Facebook posts of the experience.
They wanted to put one final touch on the whole thing. They threw them a motorcade and a small party at their own stadium. Not even a power outage — resembling what happened in St. John’s at the Brier — could put a damper on the party.
Again, it was Todd stealing the show. He was still exuding with excitement when he stood in front of the crowd and gave a speech. Of course, he gave Team Gushue the credit for all that was happening.
“Brad all the way,” he said before the trip. However, Team Gushue recognized the role the province’s support played in the Brier win. Todd Clance feels a big part of this win for Newfoundland and Labrador.