BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff Manor teenager Andrew Stopera was hoping to play well in the 2013 USA Curling Junior National Championship. He did more than that.
The 15-year-old and his eighth-ranked team surprised the country and earned a bronze medal at the national tournament in Wayland, Mass. Andrew and the rest of Team Dunnam beat nine other junior men’s teams in the curling regional in Maryland known as the GNCC Junior Championship earlier this year. Andrew said heading into the tournament he was hoping his team would break even in their matches. They ended up going 7-2, according to results posted at USA Curling.
“Our goal was to go .500 and that wouldn’t even have guaranteed us the playoffs,” Andrew said. “But we played really well and it wasn’t expected but it was definitely awesome to win the medal.”
While being on a national stage could rattle some, the son of national champion curler Bill Stopera said the excitement of the big tournament meant more fun.
“It was really one of the most fun things I’ve ever done,” he said. “Playing that kind of talent and beating a lot of great teams was just a lot of fun. We had a really great time and I think we played really well.”
Andrew rarely has a chance to spend time with the rest of his teammates on Team Dunnam, which is based in Pennsylvania. The tournament schedule allowed the group to spend more time together outside of the games and Andrew said that probably helped them relax for the bigger games.
“We met a ton of great people and it was really nice getting to spend time with some of my really good friends outside of curling and I think that led to us having more fun,” he said. “We played some really close games and even beat the team that won the whole tournament early on and I think that helped a lot. It was a really great time.”