Hello out there. It's been a while. I have been reasonably busy, but for the most part this space has been silent due to a lack of inspiration. Well, inspired I am this morning. There has been a few recent triggers for this post, most notably was a photo that Sheila found yesterday while doing a huge cleanup of our basement. The photo is of a young me (I believe I was in grade 5 but I always was so small and youthful I could have passed as age 7) in my official hockey photo. Asher instantly fell in love with the photo. He found it very amusing that I was using a wooden stick (I did have an aluminum stick at the time but not in the photo), and he was also pretty impressed by my San Jose Sharks style gloves that his Grandpa had bought me for Christmas that year. The photo brought back a number of memories for me, and planted the seed for me to gets to typin'. I bring to you, a random collection of youthful memories.
(1) E.T.F. (Estimated time frame): grade 5
I was tiny throughout my adolescence, usually the smallest in any class, tiniest on any team, in both height and weight. I had proven myself a decent hockey player mostly due to my Dad's extreme dedication to getting me on the ice. I was skating regularly from the time I was 2. I still remember the Cooper brand helmet shaped like a sphere. The atom division was made up of grade 5 and 6 kids, and to start the year they did a series of evaluating ice times to determine if you should be in tier 1 or tier 2. Keep in mind I was the smallest of the grade 5 kids, so obviously the grade 6 kids were also bigger. I also worked my ass off at any sport I was involved in, but I would bet that neither I, or my Dad thought I had any business making my way to the top tier where the biggest and best kids would be playing. As it turned out, less than 10 first year atom players made the top tier, and to everyone's surprise, I was one of them. I ended up playing much of that season on a forward line with Chris Oakley and Pardeep Sunner, both a year older, and both at least a foot taller and 50 or 75 pounds heavier. There wasn't a whole lot of tangible highlights in the season, with only 4 goals scored in total, but one glorious Saturday morning I managed to score 2 of those goals on the same shift.
(2) E.T.F.: grade 1
My Dad deserves most of the credit for my modest prowess when it comes to hockey, but when it comes to soccer, he could and should take all of the credit. You see, for as long as I've been living (and likely long before that) my Dad has lived and breathed soccer. It has led to some pretty cool bonding trips in my teenage and adult years as we have witnessed many high level soccer matches together including a really exciting Vancouver Whitecaps match this past fall. In the late 1980s in Quesnel, you couldn't register your child for the youth soccer league until age 5 or 6. That didn't stop my Dad. He went ahead and created a program for younger kids so they could play at age 4. I started there, so when organized soccer came into my life, I was miles ahead of most of the other kids. I scored goals. Lots of them. In fact, there wasn't a soccer season that I can remember that I didn't get at least 20. Okay, I slowed down when I was older, but this statement holds up until age 15 or 16. In grade 1, playing for the green team "Sign Stop" patch proudly displayed on my chest, I had a particularly notable game. The best goal came when I really loud plane buzzed over the field (airport nearby) and all of the other players stopped to stare skyward. I knew what an airplane looked like, and more importantly, I knew how much I enjoyed scoring goals. So, with little resistance, I dribbled the ball up the field and deftly slid it into the net. My Dad was always my coach, and while he has instilled many values in me that I hold dear, I don't recall too many times that he told me to "slow down" or to "share the ball", though I did do a fair bit of that. My airplane assisted goal was my 5th one that day.
(3) E.T.F.: grade 1, 2, 3, 4
Being that I was raised by two elementary school teachers, it should shock no one that the rules and guidelines that me and my siblings were raised by were rather strict. One thing I can appreciate now is that these guidelines weren't based on religion nor were they set in place solely to make my parents life easier or more free. My Mom often joked that our bed times were early because she and Dad wanted free time in the evening. I'm sure that was part of it, but getting a proper sleep was also good for us. Doing our homework first before going outside to play, just smart (didn't help that Pops was my teacher for 3 years, couldn't lie about my homework load). Not being allowed to play outside after dark? Just being safe. I don't recall being disciplined too often, but I think that was a result of my Mom being very good at her role as a disappointed but concerned parent. One thing that drove me crazy as a young boy was the strict guidelines placed on television programs and movies I was allowed to see. Having younger siblings did nothing but make these guidelines even tougher to live by. Professional wrestling? No way, even when I was 20 and home for the summer. The Simpsons? Get real. Home Alone, when literally every other kid breathing saw it? Not likely. Jurassic Park? Them there dinosaurs could cause nightmares. Did this mean I never saw these programs? Well, for some of them, yes. I still haven't seen Home Alone in its entirety, or Jurassic Park for that matter. But, thanks to a few friends, I did get to experience some of the contraband footage. There was some television that passed my parents rigorous screening process, and the most memorable was the Friday night ABC lineup called "T.G.I.F.". The block of 4 shows ran from 8 pm - 10 pm starting in 1988 and running until 2000. The lineup that I most remember consisted of the shows: "Family Matters", "Boy Meets World", "Step by Step", and "Hangin' With Mr.Cooper". The first 3 shows were enjoyed as a family and it was a big deal that we were still up at 930. I didn't see that time of night any other day of the week. Most every show that we watched as a family was wholesome and message-filled, two things that often limit the quality of the product. As a child, that was not the case with the above shows, "Family Matters" in particular. There was nothing funnier as a kid than Urkel and Carl's hijinx. Reginald VelJohnson's "Carl" was simply awesome. If you didn't see his "anger management" techniques, you are missing out. I also have very fond memories of watching "Road to Avonlea", "Wind at My Back", "Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman" and a few more very appropriate shows, with my mom and dad right there with me and my sisters and brother.
(4) E.T.F.: grade 9
Darcy and Ryan, who lived down the street from us for most of the time I was a kid, shared nearly every one of my interests. At times, Darcy and I were inseparable. At other times, Ryan and I were best buds. Lovers of all things sports? Check. Soccer above all others? Check. Wrestling fans? Check. Backyard swimming pool fans? Check. Darcy and I would compete annually to see who would lead the soccer league in goals. He was often on a different house league team, but we were teammates for every one of my most memorable soccer moments. Every Quesnel all-star team, high school team, and as 13 year olds, we were 2 of the 4 boys from Quesnel to make a zone team that went to the B.C. Summer Games. I remember only a few specific moments on the soccer pitch, but one that is as vivid as the day it happened was a goal that I scored after an incredible set up from Darcy. We were 14 or 15, and it was the final game of the Zone play downs. We were up against Prince George, and needed to win (tie wasn't good enough) in order to move on to the Provincials. Darcy beat a couple of guys on the right side, then laid a pass across to the left where I always played. It was ahead of me, which enticed the goalkeeper to come charging out of the net. I was about 30 yards out, and the goalie had made it about halfway out when I caught up to the ball. I sent the ball first touch, and curled it around the goalie into the back of the net for the 1-0 lead. Screaming, we were both mobbed by our teammates in one of the biggest celebrations I can recall being a part of. The joy was cut short with a few minutes left when Prince George scored to tie the game and claim the berth in the Provincial Tournament, but that moment will stay with me forever.
I hope you have enjoyed my little stroll as much as I have. Have a great week Mom and Sheila!