ST JOHN’S — In an overfilled room of fans at the historic Bally Haly Country Club, local band, The Navigators, played the now famous Team Gushue entrance song, The Islander.
People clapped and cheered in unison awaiting the arrival of their local heroes on Wednesday night.
Brad Gushue, Mark Nichols, Brett Gallant, Geoff Walker walked into the room, basking in the glow of returning to the club it all started in, now crowned Brier and world champions.
“It’s humbling to see them all come out and support us,” said Gushue.
Not far from where people gathered for dinner sits the four curling sheets of ice the team has spent countless hours on perfecting their game over the past three years. After the Brier win, the club renamed the sheets from 1, 2, 3, 4 to Walker, Gallant, Nichols. Gushue.
Throughout the evening stories and speeches were shared, including from a member of the last and only Brier team to win for Newfoundland and Labrador, Toby MacDonald.
There was also a story told about the moment Gushue decided to give up hockey for curling.
“I came home and Brad and his mom were sitting there,” recalled father Ray Gushue. “And Brad said, ‘mom, you tell him.’ And she said ‘Brad is done with hockey. He doesn’t want to play anymore.'”
Never looked back
Brad Gushue was 13 years old, and from that point on, never looked back. Ray Gushue admits he wasn’t the biggest curling fan in the early days. That’s all changed.
In a little more than a month the Gushue Rink has captured a Brier and world title. The Gushue Gala was a quickly planned event in St. John’s to not only honour the team for its accomplishments, but also to grow the game in Newfoundland and Labrador.
“That would be the legacy I’d like to leave,” Brad Gushue said.
“The wins are great but if 10 to 15 years from now the clubs in this province are thriving, I’d like to say I had a part in it.”
But for now, the four men on the team are still trying to wrap their heads around what’s just happened.
What it all means to Team Gushue
“I’ve sat and thought about it and it’s just amazing to be able to know that you’re a Brier champion having grown up and watching it as a kid,” said team lead Geoff Walker, from Beaverlodge, Alta.
For second Brett Gallant, the club was a fitting place to be celebrating all of their accomplishments.
“I came here from P.E.I., five years ago and the second I walked through these doors I was welcomed with open arms. It feels like home. I couldn’t ask for anything more the way they took Geoff and I in. It’s pretty special.”
Then there’s longest serving teammate of Gushue, third Mark Nichols.
He admits to being on the roller-coaster ride of his life.
“The last eight weeks has been a whirlwind. To couple it all in expecting our…