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Richmond junior curlers earn Schmirler scholarships

By Don Fennell

Published 1:41 PDT, Tue June 16, 2020

A pair of Richmond curlers are two of the six juniors named 2020 Spirit of Sandra Scholars by the Sandra Schmirler Foundation.

Michael Nunn and Johnson Tao have each been awarded $5,000 scholarships along with the opportunity to work with a world champion mentor as they pursue their dreams on and off the curling ice.

Nunn, 18, is currently enrolled in the Faculty of Arts at UBC but plans to transfer to the university’s nursing program to become a surgical nurse. The current COVID-19 pandemic has only strengthened his desire to become a nurse.

A silver medallist at the under-21 provincials and at the 2018 BC Winter Games, Nunn is an active volunteer. He organized a high school curling league that recruited several new curlers to his home club. He and his grandmother also volunteer every week providing community meals.

Tao, 17, is planning a career working with start-ups. In preparation, he plans to start working towards his Bachelor of Commerce degree at the University of Alberta this fall and continue on to get his MBA.

While at university, Tao will be playing for the Golden Bears’ junior curling team.

This year, Tao’s team hosted the 2020 New Holland Junior Canadian championships.

Born in Beijing, Tao came to Canada when he was five-years-old and with English as a second language became the top student in his Grade 12 English class.

“Each of the scholars excel both athletically and academically. And they are all engaged with their communities and committed to giving back to curling and keeping Sandra’s legacy alive,” said foundation board member Cathy Overton-Clapham.

A world champion and five-time Scotties Tournament of Hearts Champion (as the top team at the Canadian women’s curling championships), Overton-Clapham will mentor the six scholars.

Each Spirit of Sandra Scholar will organize a fundraising event to benefit the Sandra Schmirler Foundation and to keep her legacy alive. At the end of the 2020-21 curling season, the scholars will award a $10,000 grant to a hospital of their choice for the purchase of life-saving equipment to help save babies born too soon, too small or too sick.

Since 2013, the foundation has provided substantial scholarships to 29 Canadian curlers. Many of the young athletes have gone on to enjoy great success, including two-time Scotties champion Shannon Birchard and two-time world junior gold medalist Tyler Tardi.

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