The Past: For The Love Of Sports
For The Love of Sports the first time in my 31-year-old memory, we have none. I don't know how everyone else is doing with it but I am having some serious withdrawal. I have been involved and around sports for my entire life it seems and for the first time it is nowhere to be found. I miss everything about sports, especially the Vancouver Whitecaps, and want to share how I got to where I am. More importantly, I want to share why other people got to where they are and why we all love sports so much!
I have seen my fair share of sports locked out in the years. There was some I don't remember because I was too young and didn't follow sports. The Major league Baseball lockout of 1990, and the two minor National Hockey League lockouts in 1992 and 1994.
By 92' and 93' I was trained to be a Blue Jays fan. I was able to enjoy the title runs with my dad as a little kid. The 1992 run I was still only 4 so don't have much recollection of it. But I fondly remember the 1993 playoff run. It might have been a moment in time I can contribute to wanting to play sports.
Things locked for the MLB in 1994 with a major lockout. It didn't phase me as I was introduced to sports thanks to my dad so I started following the Premier League with him and NHL. He was and still is a huge Leafs fan so obviously as a kid, I picked anything but the team he liked. I think I will like this team in Vancouver. They are the Canucks and they have this amazing new Russian Player.
I had found my team and spent countless hours playing NHL 94' (My Christmas gift that year). I was known, within my family, for scoring up over 200 goals a year with Pavel Bure and constantly winning the Stanley Cup with the Vancouver Canucks. Oh For The Love Of Sports it looked amazing watching the Canucks raise Lord Stanley year after year. I was 6 and in love with everything sports!
The Early Years: For The Love Of Sports
It was very obvious my passion for all things sports streamed from my family. With my dad's passion for sports on the TV, he and my mom were also active when I was a kid. They both played Fastball and I was dragged out to each and every game to run around and soak everything up.
My dad happened to coach boys soccer and umpire baseball at the time so I couldn't get away from it. I would have access to everywhere around Seraxumen Stadium and half watch the games while my dad would umpire things. I was more involved in what was happening behind the scenes than on the field.
Elementary school would start for me and I would enroll in every single sport I could find. I was in Karate, Track and Field, Softball, and Ball Hockey to name a few. Ice Hockey was a bit expensive and I was only able to play that for one year in the house. I apologize for my terrible jersey choice but I didn't have a Canucks jersey yet. Ice Hockey sadly wouldn't be my thing despite being Canadian.
Since my dad coached soccer I started playing for a house league. I was alright? I don't remember scoring a goal, which is terrible as I would consider myself a striker now. but I do remember a moment when I had to go in at 9 years old for my dad's under 11 teams to play keeper.
I let in a quick goal after coming in but our team was able to score two to take the lead. I was tested once when a ball came in near post and I was able to fist it away before face planting into the woodwork (it was metal woodwork). times were a bit different back then and after a brief delay, I was good to go in the net and our team held out for the 3 points.
Despite playing soccer for several years I would give it up at 10 when I liked Softball much more. For the love of Sports, it was hard to figure out what I wanted to do. I also found Football at this time and started playing tackle football in a local league. I would continue to play Football and Ball Hockey but Softball would take the forefront for the next couple years of my life.
The Middle Years: For The Love Of Sports
I continued to play elementary School Basketball, Track and field and Floor Hockey. I was more focused on Fastball now as an 11-year-old. I was able to make a rep team with a bunch of my friends and we were able to start dominating. After we won Silver in the Rep C provincials in 2000 we moved up to Rep B where I had some of the best young moments of my life.
Fastball was great because we were able to travel all over BC and beat up on other teams. There were a couple of rivals we made with Cordova Bay and Fleetwood. but after the games, we were all quick to hang out and have a laugh. I would continue to play football throughout this time with the Nanaimo Minor Football Association. I was a really small scrawny kid so I played a lot of Left-Right out.
After doing well in 2001 with our Fastball team we really hit our stride in 2002. We won several tournaments and would go on to win the BC provincials and head of to the Westerns in Leduc Alberta. We had a great tournament but came up short with the bronze medal. The team would stay together for 3 more years winning another provincial Championship in 2004. We were not able to medal in that year's Westerns and move on to the Canadians.
It was a great time in my life with great people. But we all happened to be on different paths For The Love Of Sports. During our last year as a full team, most of the players were exploring other sports. We were all in high school now and had different agendas. Some continued in Softball and some stopped playing completely. Most of us would move on to Football.
The majority of the team would go to John Barsby High school and For The Love Of Sports Football was next! After Ball Hockey, Karate, Soccer, and Softball and I switched things completely to Football. In my first year in 2003, I was a pine pony and had to learn the game as a grade 9. After being one of the top players in each sport I played it was a sobering moment but motivated me for the love of sports to work harder.
The Early HighSchool Years: For The Love Of Sports
I would stop playing Fastball and age out of floor hockey so the only thing left was a hard dedication to Football. For the Love of Sports, I enjoyed Track and Field, Volleyball and Basketball but while I did play them our school didn't have the resources put towards those sports which were a shame. For my grade 10 years, I was able to come out as a starting receiver for the team. Que the John Barsby Bulldawg years.
The only bad thing about being a Wide Receiver for John Barsby at the time was they didn't pass the ball. Needless to say, I got very good at pass blocking. I had a couple of catches that year but didn't see the endzone. When the playoffs started we switched to a formation called the "Double Wing" it didn't have a receiver so I was back to the bench sigh.
We would go on a long run in the Playoffs and be the only public school left in the Junior Varsity Semifinals. We faced off against Vancouver College High School and were able to keep in close in the first half. But we were physically and overall outmatched and would eventually lose 52-23. Then only thing cool I could take from the second half was our two QB's went down briefly and I had to take a snap at QB. A four-yard QB sneak and luckily the second string QB was able to come back in. It was a cool experience and High School football would continue for me.
Grade 11 would bring big things for me despite running the same formation without any receivers. I was relegated back to the 2nd string Tight End and 3rd string in our 2 running back-formation. I ran back punts and kickoffs so it wasn't too bad to start the year. Also, I was called into duty for one game where both our centers went down. Bring in the 160 lbs center to help secure a 30-0 victory against Mark Isfield Ice.
For the Love of Sports, I got my break a couple of games into the season when the starting Tight End went down with an injury. I was able to flourish in my grade 11 season starting the very next game. I had 3 receptions for 119 yards and a TD in a 25-12 loss. I would finish the year with 4 Touchdowns on 10 receptions for 274 yards in 5 games and was named as a Conference All-Star.
Our team would make the playoffs in a Wildcard spot and edge out Lord Tweedsmuir Panthers 21-14. We would move on to play the Vernon Panthers in the Quarterfinals at BC Place. It was an amazing experience for a 16-year-old to be playing on the Turf at the Stadium where the BC Lions and now Whitecaps play. It was a tight game that came right down to the wire. After having an earlier touchdown I was able to haul in a 40-yard catch that tipped off the defender's hands. We would score the next play with 45 seconds left.
The Semi-Finals were good to me with 116 yards on 5 catches but not to our team. For the Love of Sports, we were outscored 29-0 in the first half and were never able to get back into the game. We had a much better second half but would lose 29-0 to end our season. My Football career took a big boost going into my Senior season and suddenly I was receiving letters from different Universities in Canada.
A Teachers Strike Season Oh For The Love Of Sports: And The Raiders Year
For the love of Sports, my Senior year of Highschool football would start off with high expectations. We would play tough opponents in the preseason, including a big "Border Battle" Win against Rivals Ballenas Whalers. A 2-2 preseason before an opening day blowout at home. We were able to take care of the Seaquam Seahawks 36-0 dominating all facets of the ball. Things were looking good for the year and we were preparing to face off against out Nanaimo Rivals the NDSS Islanders.
The game was set for Saturday afternoon but on Friday morning the BC Teachers Federation voted to strike. We found out later in the day we would not be playing a game Saturday and that it would be postponed for the time being. Well, days went into weeks and we ended up losing 3 weeks in our season. We would replay one of the games at random and would end the season with a 3-0 record after a 46-6 and a 42-6 win in the final two games of the season.
I would once again for the Love of Sports get to play at BC Place Stadium. After the Teachers strike the teams were ranked on a sweet 16 bracket-style playoffs. We were ranked 13th and faced off against the ValleyView Vikings from the British Columbia Interior Conference. We had a dominant performance and I had 5 receptions for 89 yards in the win. I and a couple of teammates were quick to pose after the game for the Cameras.
For the love of Sports and like a bad sports movie we would not have that Championship season. We would play the Sands Scorpions in the Quarter Finals and lose a tough game. I was able to get into the endzone again but we couldn't muster up the late heroics in the final minutes to score to take the lead. our season would come to a tragic end with a 34-31 loss. I was once again named as a Conference All-Star and despite the offers from Universities I made the decision to stay in Nanaimo and play for the Vancouver Island Raiders.
Instead of taking any of my scholarships abroad, I made un sports-related decisions to stay in Nanaimo and not for the Love of Sports. I would sign on with the Vancouver Island Raiders who played in the Canadian Junior Football League. I was good in high school but reality sunk in as an 18-year-old going up against 20+-year-old men. I rode the bench for the entire year getting a couple of chances here and there.
While I was used to being the star of the show it was a humbling experience. Getting shown how much work I needed to put into the craft has stuck with me in everything I have done since then. I was lucky enough to play with this year's CFL Most Outstanding Canadian and Player Andrew Harris. And Funny enough he was a slotback then and only the back up running back in 2006.
We would post a perfect 10-0 season in the British Columbia Football Conference. For the love of sports, we breezed through the playoffs beating the Okanagan Sun 42-28 in the BC finals. The Canadian National Championship game was hosted at home, in Nanaimo, against the Edmonton Wildcats. A big play downfield set us up for the winning field goal and we were able to check out the 27-26 victory.
While I didn't dress for the Championship game it was great to win a National title. I was able to see the game past highschool at a decent level and make some lasting memories. This would be my last competitive year of playing sports unfortunately. I made some decisions that were for someone else best interest and not my own. For the love of sports, I would turn my back on them for several years.
Stay Tuned For The Love Of Sports Part 2
The second part of my story, For The Love Of Sports, will come out in the next couple of days for Sport Talk-Line. It will continue on how I came to get involved in writing about sports and why I love sports so much. The 3rd part will focus on people from around the sports world. How they got into what they are doing and why they love sports so much.