Quality coaching is the reason so many top-notch curlers have come out of the Sarnia Golf and Curling Club over the years.
“I just think kids, right from a young age, have been taught how to play the game properly,” said Sarnia's John Steski, who now curls out of Ottawa.
Steski points to his father, Wayne, and Gord Gark as coaches who played integral roles in shaping the successful careers of many local players, including himself, younger brothers Peter and Jeff Steski, and Heath McCormick.
McCormick has competed at several U.S. National Curling Championships and is a five-time Ontario Junior Champion. He represented the United States at the World Men's Curling Championships in 2012.
The Steski brothers all have impressive curling resumes, including appearances at the Ontario Tankard.
In fact, the recent provincial bonspiel in Ingersoll was John Steski's 12th Tankard, including winning it as part of Bryan Cochrane's rink, and representing Ontario at the Brier in Halifax in 2003.
Following Cochrane's retirement from competitive curling, Steski played lead this year for the Colin Dow rink from Ottawa, while two other Sarnians, Steve and Mark Bice, played lead and third respectively for Greg Balsdon's Hamilton foursome.
Both rinks finished 6-4 in the round robin, leading to a tiebreaker that Dow's rink won 12-7 over Balsdon.
But John Steski's shot at another Brier appearance came to an end when Team Dow lost 10-7 in an extra end of a playoff game to Peter Corner's Toronto rink, which featured three-time world champion Wayne Middaugh. The Dow rink led 7-4 after seven ends, but surrendered a single point in each of the last three ends, and then gave up three more in the extra end.
“I think nerves got to us late in the game,” said Steski of his teammates, who are all several years his junior. “It was a game that we had under control, but we didn't quite have enough left in the tank to finish it off. Hopefully, we'll learn from this experience and be better next time when we get into a situation like this.”
Steski, 45, says he would like to play competitively for another three or four more seasons, as long as his knees and joints hold up.
He wants to be a mentor to his younger teammates.
With the Tankard only about a 90 minute drive from here, Steski says he was able to catch up with friends from the Sarnia area during the event.