This week, John sits down with Taylor McDonald, who at just 23 already has a pretty sterling résumé, having won a pair of World Junior and CIS-Curling Canada Championships. Taylor is also featured in the latest Women of Curling Calendar raising money for the Mental Health Foundation and will be playing in the 2016 Canada Cup in Brandon, Man., next week.
Welcome to Magical Question Fun Time, the Curling Canada feature where comedian John Cullen sits down with your favourite curlers for interviews like you have never seen. Each interview will feature eight questions: five standard questions that will be asked to each curler, two questions specific to that curler, and one question that the curler interviewed before them asks.
1. What’s the nicest shot you’ve ever been a part of?
Taylor McDonald: Oh jeez, I am really terrible at remembering shots. I saw that Dana (Ferguson) said she was too, and I am seriously so bad too.
John Cullen: Maybe it’s a seconds thing.
TM: [laughs] Maybe. I do remember last year, we were playing at The National and we were losing to Rachel Homan and in the fourth end, Kelsey made this ridiculous, thin triple that nobody thought was there. And so we only gave up two instead of 5! [laughs]
JC: [laughs] I’m glad that’s the nicest shot ever, that you held the team to two. Huge accomplishment. [laughs] Did you win the game?
TM: God no. [laughs] Not even close, I think we lost like 7-1 or something. But it was a pretty great shot, one of those ones no one really talks about, but I remember calling Kelsey a hero, the commentators all loved it…it was still pretty cool.
2. Who could you take in a fight?
TM: I think I can take anyone on my team, to be honest. I have a solid foot on basically everyone on my team, and a way bigger wingspan. So I just plan to use my reach and it’ll be no problem.
JC: Have you trained to hit people at distance. Is this something you know how to do?
TM: Well, I did take taekwondo when I was younger for like three years, and I made it a few levels, got a few belts.
JC: Do you still have the belts?
TM: Unfortunately not, no. [laughs]
JC: Because that would be badass, just tighten up the belt and go at it with one of your teammates. Now, you’ve said you could take all four of them, which one do you think you’re most likely to get in a fight with?
TM: I think Jen. We got the front end thing. We give each other a hard time a lot, and so I think we would be the ones most likely to go at it. But for the record, I would win. She’s too nice and friendly. I would get a few hits in before she even knew what was going on. [laughs]
3. If a deli named a sandwich after you, what would be on it?
TM: This question is another one that’s really hard for me to answer, because I take food very seriously. I’ve honestly been reading your interviews to prepare and I’ve thought of this for the last 24 hours. [laughs]
JC: That’s longer than anyone has ever thought about my questions. Or should have. [laughs]
TM: [laughs] Fair enough, I just wanted to get it right, and I think my answer is just that I’m gonna go with a loaded sandwich. Basically, whatever is in the fridge that day, pile it on. Except celery. Celery sucks. It’s a waste of time.
JC: What about the type of bread?
TM: Honestly, I don’t care. That’s the least concern of mine. I care way more about the condiments, gotta pile those on there. I would go with mayo, mustard, and then a lot of people may not know this, but a weakness of mine is Cheez Whiz.
JC: So wait, you’re saying food is super important to you and yet you love Cheez Whiz?
TM: I know it’s not really a food, but I love it. [laughs] I’d throw a few meats on there, lots of veggies, I love veggies—and to counterbalance the Cheez Whiz—and that would be that.
JC: So you’re seriously throwing Cheez Whiz on there? How often do you eat it? I don’t think I know anyone who eats it regularly.
TM: I eat it…pretty often. [laughs] The only other person I know who eats it regularly is Geoff Walker, Brad Gushue’s lead. Laura (Crocker, Taylor’s teammate and Geoff’s partner) won’t let him, so the two of us have bonded over that. She’s pretty healthy, so we try to sneak it when we can. [laughs]
4. What’s the worst job you’ve ever had?
TM: I’ve been in the same job for a long time, but the worst I think is, sorry Dad [laughs], I worked for my dad at his car dealerships. I was too young to really have a proper job, so he gave me a job sweeping parking lots, pulling weeds, and doing other chores in the summer heat that I didn’t want to do. [laughs]
JC: Was your dad ever around giving you the business and really bossing you up?
TM: I think he was around a little bit for sure, but he generally delegated the supervision of me to others. [laughs] I remember having this huge weed sprayer backpack thing that I carried around—
JC: That’s pretty hot!
TM: [laughs] Oh yeah, absolutely. Super hot accessory. I looked like a Ghostbuster and wanted to quit pretty much from the time I was 16. I just had to wait it out until I cared enough to find another job, that’s the only way I could leave. So I did it until I was 18. [laughs] Sorry, Dad!
5. What’s a stupid thing you incorrectly believed was true for a long time?
TM: There’s a few. [laughs] I’m really bad for this, I’m terrible at fact-checking. I think the worst one is probably that when I was a kid, I believed that no matter where we were driving or how many I saw, if we were driving at night, those red lights on top of cell phone towers were Rudolph. All of them. [laughs]
JC: [laughs] So how did that start? Because I think I can remember having the same thing, but I probably stopped believing it when I was six.
TM: Oh, I believed it way longer than that. [laughs] I think my parents were the ones who maybe started telling me that, and then I just went with it and didn’t see any reason to think otherwise. I honestly don’t even think I grew out of it, I think it just happened that one day I saw the towers at dusk so there was enough light to see Rudolph wasn’t there, and that’s when I stopped. [laughs]
6. All right, so when we are talking about Taylor McDonald specifically, it’s tough not to mention the fact that you were just featured in the 2017 Women of Curling Calendar as Miss February. Now, before we sat down to do this interview, you warned me not to interview you, [laughs] as you said you get very nervous. So how was posing in a state of undress? I feel like that’s a lot more nerve-wracking.
TM: [laughs] Yeah, it’s uhh…it’s out there. I think when they first asked me to do it, I was actually super-excited. I just thought it was cool to be asked, but then when I started thinking about ideas with my photographer, I started to get a bit more nervous, and then the shoot itself ended up being in a pretty public place actually. So then I got way more nervous. [laughs]
JC: Oh, really? Because it definitely looks like it was shot in a studio.
TM: Well, the original plan was to have some kind of curling background, so we went to the new Lethbridge Curling Club (note: Taylor is from Lethbridge) and we just couldn’t get the shot we wanted. So we found a white wall and just did it there, but the spot the wall was in was definitely out there.
JC: Because, I mean, I’ve seen the calendar and I would say that yours ranks up there with some of the more risqué shots, if not even the most risqué. You have a sweater on, but that’s kind of it.
TM: Yeah, people were definitely walking by and I’m sure they were looking over like, “why doesn’t she have any clothes on?” So it was a bit strange in that sense, but I think it turned out really well.
JC: It does look great, I just think that because yours is maybe a bit more on that line and you’re Miss February…I think a few people may just not turn the page on their calendars. [laughs] Like, “oh, is it August? Shoot.”
TM: [laughs] Yeah, I was a little surprised to see that mine was on the more risqué end of things, but I think the calendar has a really good mix of fitness-type shots, some lifestyle shots, and some on the more suggestive end of things. It’s pretty cool.
7. Okay, so for the second question, we will get away from you being semi-naked, and talk about a nickname I’ve heard you have. When I talked to Dana Ferguson, we found out about her inebriated alter-ego Donna, and apparently she hears about that all the time, so hopefully we can do the same for you. [laughs] Can you tell me how you got the nickname Teri?
TM: [laughs] Oh jeez. This my first year of women’s, when I was playing with Chelsea Carey, Laura, and Jen. We got invited to the TSN Skins game, which was just crazy. I honestly didn’t even really understand what it was, I didn’t watch a ton of competitive curling when I was younger and I was just out of juniors, so I didn’t quite figure out how big of a deal it was until we got there.
JC: You didn’t know that? It’s pretty huge.
TM: Honestly no, but then we got there and it dawned on me pretty quickly how elite of a thing it was. There was a sponsor’s reception the first night there, and it’s beginning to hit me how cool of a thing this is when Vic Rauter starts introducing all the teams one by one, and all the players. So I’m starting to think that this is my big moment, my big break into the women’s scene, like it’s all kind of happening.
JC: Yeah, I mean, you’re 21, playing in the Skins Game, most people don’t ever get to go to one, and you’re playing in one in your first year of women’s curling.
TM: Exactly. So Vic introduces us to this room full of sponsors, curlers. It’s a huge deal, and he says: “Welcome to Chelsea Carey’s team, third Laura Crocker, lead Jen Gates, and second Teri McDonald.” [laughs] Of course, people in the room hear this and latch onto it, so for the rest of the night everyone is “Teri” this and “Teri” that. Oh man.
JC: [laughs] That’s pretty awesome. I definitely wouldn’t have let you live it down had I been there.
TM: I mean, I’m already a front-end player, can’t someone throw me a bone here? [laughs] It’s tough enough getting my name out there, I don’t need people calling me Teri. [laughs] Laura still calls me that, especially if we need to pick up the mood in a game. She’ll yell down the ice, “great shot Teri!” I’m never gonna live it down.
8. That’s fantastic. Now with our final question and this comes in from John Epping, who said he didn’t want to be too harsh, but it’s not the easiest question to answer: who is your favourite team to beat?
TM: [laughs] Oh man, that’s not a very nice question at all! I guess it’s not super harsh, but it’s not not harsh. I’ll be honest, I think we probably have to start winning a little more before I can really answer this question. [laughs]
JC: [laughs] Oh man, that’s great.
TM: I don’t know, I don’t think there’s any particular team, our team really just tries to focus on the rocks that are in play, and not our opponents necessarily.
JC: I mean, that’s nice and all, but every team has a favourite opponent to beat. You’re either lying or you’re dodging the question. [laughs]
TM: [laughs] I mean, I think there’s a rivalry between us and Val Sweeting, because we are from the same club as them and we play them quite a bit. So I would say we get up for those games maybe a little more than others and we both want to win, I think. I mean, I like winning no matter what. [laughs]
JC: [laughs] I feel that. I’m in the same boat as you I think. There’s maybe one or two teams we like to beat just a little more than others, but winning is the ultimate goal regardless. And finally, can I have a question for my next interviewee?
TM: Yeah, so we are gonna veer away from curling here and I’m gonna ask what your most memorable first date would be?
JC: YES! That’s what I’m talking about. I love questions that veer away from the game a little bit. I know I’m interviewing a guy for sure, just not sure who yet.
TM: Perfect. Guys always have very interesting interpretations of dates, so I’m excited to see what they come up with.
JC: Awesome. Thanks so much Taylor, best of luck with the calendar, the Canada Cup, and the rest of the season!