Why I am so emotional about sport
I was listening to my favorite band this past weekend and a flood of memories came rushing back. So, I thought I would share this. Some of my athletes may wonder why I get so emotional about sport. This is one of a few profound moments that impacted my life, beyond sport.
The captain of our high school volleyball team was a senior named Les. Les did not say much on the court, but he led by example. He was comfortable in his own skin. We all respected Les, and looked up to him like a big brother. He had plans to play post-secondary volleyball.
Les also had a love, and superior knowledge, of music. He introduced us to diverse artists such as Jean Michel Jarre, Muddy Waters, and our team favorite – Rush. Les’s Sony G5 speakers were a constant presence during our practices and games. For three seasons we would run into the gym for our warm-up with 2112’s Overture and Temples of Syrinx blaring! Most of our team became lifelong Rush fans, thanks to Les.
Shortly following the season, our team attended a Saturday night Christmas party at a local house. We were extremely close on and off the court. Following the party, we each dispersed to find our way home...
Sunday morning, I received a phone call from a teammate. All I remember him saying was, “Les is dead”, and the phone went silent. I remember the exact time and place I was standing like it was yesterday. The details surrounding the tragedy are less clear to me, but apparently Les had been found in a open field between the party and his home (one we had all crossed numerous times), where he had fallen into a construction trench and hit his head on a foundation. It was a bitterly cold night.
The experience was devastating for the family, the community, the school and of course our team. We served as pallbearers at his funeral and tried to comfort his family, including his younger brother Dan, who was also a member of the team. Our coach, Big Al, spoke at his funeral and could barely find the words. It was one of the worst moments of my life.
Our story is virtually identical to the true story told in the 2018 film The Miracle Season. Our brotherhood had lost Les, after a team get-together, similarly to how their sisterhood had lost Caroline "Line". Like the movie, our team dedicated the following season to Les, and went on to win the Provincial volleyball championship. I was privileged to be the setter and captain of that team. Our star attacker that season was Dan, who went on to experience the successful post-secondary volleyball career that his brother could not. Now you know why I have to hide in the back while watching that movie.
My motivation for sharing this very personal story? Life is precious. Every moment with your team is precious. Our teammates bring us many other gifts, beyond sport (Les gave us the gift of music). The moment you are in will never come again, so play for now.