SEATTLE — The United States made curling history at the 2018 Winter Olympics. Team Shuster, led by John Shuster, knocked off Canada in the semifinals and then beat Sweden in the finals to win gold.
Team Shuster was the first American team to ever win gold in curling.
"[Shuster is] really smart,” said Team USA curling coach Sean Beighton. “He does not make mistakes ever strategically, and he's really clutch. So, you take all those things into consideration, and he can beat you by himself, and he usually has a good team.”
Beighton was born in Edmonds and has been curling since the age of 5. He's faced off against Shuster many times, but now the Kamiak High School and University of Washington alum joined forces with the five-time Olympian in Beijing.
"Getting the opportunity to actually coach [Shuster], I was a little surprised when they called me and asked because I'm on the west coast and all those guys are either in Minnesota or Wisconsin,” said Beighton. “So, I was very surprised with the call from him, but I knew that it would be a great thing, and if I took the coaching real seriously, that it was going to be a great opportunity to grow with that team and it was something I've never really done before.”
Beighton's dad introduced him to the sport at the Granite Curling Club in north Seattle.
"He was a huge influence that coached me up until I was through juniors and he even coached me a little bit on the side when I did men's curling,” said Beighton. “So [he was] super important to my development. I feel lucky and that's a huge reason why I won as much as I did, back in the day.”
Beighton won a National Junior title in 2010, a men's National Championship in 2013, and he just missed out on going to the Winter Olympics in 2014 and 2018. So, he's thrilled to be at the 2022 Winter Olympics in Beijing as a coach.
"It's been a childhood dream,” said Beighton. “I thought I was going to go as an athlete, and I think going as a coach is borderline, like more rewarding. And way more stressful. Like when you're coaching, you have no control, like what the players are doing, right?"
But what exactly does a curling coach do?
“Number one is making sure the team is as best prepared as possible before they ever throw the first rock of the game. So, it's getting them in the right headspace, and also just talking about how they want to play and talking about how their opponents typically play and will play against us,” explained Beighton. “So, that's a big part of it.”