BRIARCLIFF MANOR, N.Y. – Briarcliff Manor teenager Andrew Stopera is following in his father’s footsteps and is ready to throw the rock in the 2013 USA Curling Junior National Championship.
Andrew, the 15-year-old son of national champion curler Bill Stopera, is part of a group that beat nine other junior men’s teams in the curling regional in Maryland known as the GNCC Junior Championship. With the victory, the group is set to compete in the national championship from Feb. 28 to March 10 at Broomstones Curling Club in Wayland, Mass.
Although curling for a national title has been Andrew’s dream since his dad helped him pick up a rock at age 7, the teen said he didn’t expect to be getting his chance so soon.
“I’m really excited about nationals. It’s a dream come true,” said Andrew, a student at Tarrytown’s Hackley High School. “I didn’t expect to go this early because we were the underdogs before. Hopefully, we’ll do really well again, but I know we’ll have a lot of fun competing.”
A year ago, Bill helped his team win the 2012 USA Curling National Championships in Pennsylvania, which earned the team sponsorship from the US Curling Association and a qualifying spot in the 2014 Winter Olympics. His son said he hopes to someday become a national champion and earn a spot on an Olympic team.
“I would love to go to the Olympics some way down the road, but I’m also really excited that I’m getting a chance to go to nationals so early,” Andrew said.
Bill and Andrew typically spend four days a week perfecting their skills at Ardsley Curling Club. Bill said his son has “progressed remarkably quickly” since dedicating himself to the sport.
“Like anything else, it takes a tremendous amount of dedication to become really great. And on top of that, it takes talent to get an edge,” Bill said of his son. “He has the talent. I mean he proved that by overcoming tremendous odds to get to this point at 15 years old. He’s going to go as far as he wants in his career.”