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Be The Best.

And so it begins – The Commencement – Part 3

Two years ago, on Easter Sunday, I began this blog.

I thought it might go for a month, then two months, then six, then for sure end at 12, then it kept going.

Although these past few months the posts have been more in my head then typed onto the screen, it’s not for lack of topics.   Along this pathway/journey/road/highway/trail you have ups and you have downs.  You have valleys and you have views.  You learn to laugh with a broken heart.  You learn to live with a hole in your heart.  You even learn to win and conquer with an altered existence.

That’s the REAL secret of Sunday.

It’s not about the razzle dazzle.

It’s about the amazing reality that there is life with tragedy.  There is hope with sorrow.  There is bitter and there is sweet, mixed and stirred.

Sunday is about hope.

Sunday is about future.

Sunday is about change.

After 21 years at an amazing post secondary school that has become a home not just a job…I am taking a leave.

I’m heading to the private sector working to assist entrepreneurs build their businesses.

A big change.

I’m not sure I would have done it without the Be The Best thinking part of my every waking minute.

Now, I’m not encouraging anyone to quit their jobs or do anything crazy, but I will challenge all of you to Be The Best!

What does that mean to you?

What are your dreams?

What are your goals?

How are you putting those into measurable pieces, sliced up by months and days?

Chris’ passion fuels me.  Chris’ passion to Be The Best fuels all of us, even those who never met him.

It’s Sunday…but it’s early Sunday morning.

Hope is on the horizon, but the road ahead is still very unknown.

But one thing I know is that Sunday’s here, and by making one decision at a time we’ll be more ‘Be The Best’ then if we just sit back and let things happen.

Sunday’s here, hope is here and HOPE is an action word.

Be The Best.

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Be The Best.

Langley wins Provincial Championship…and other stuff you should know.

When it comes to lacrosse, both field and box, Langley has always been close to the top and rarely at the top.

The boys, really young men now, that you see in the picture below have been battling for a gold medal for 10 years or more.

I watched a young Chris write down his goal, ‘Make the A1 Langley lacrosse team’.

Then I watched him work that goal.  Push-ups, eating right, practice, repeat.  Working and never quitting.

He made it.  The next goal was to win.  I watched him and his squad battle their hearts out to several bronze medals at the Provincials.  They were huge accomplishments, but the ride home was usually quiet.

He wanted the Gold.

When he won the bronze with Team BC at the National Box Tournie, it was again an amazing accomplishment but the gold still remained the goal.

A couple of Sundays ago on the fields at Burnaby Lake, Langley’s Tier 1 (A1) field lacrosse team won the Gold medal for the FIRST TIME IN LANGLEY’S HISTORY.

These were all guys that Chris had played with over the years and judging by the comments on Chris’ still very active memorial Facebook wall, he was with them on the field for the big win.

CONGRATS to all the players and coaches…and parents too!!  As I look at the picture below I see James, Michael, Brett, Eric, Ryan, Rhys, Riley, Will, Alex and more.

You all have battled for many years together and I know that Chris LOVED fighting the fight with you and I know he’ll be your wingman as many of you leave minor lacrosse and move forward with the next exciting stages of life.

This was a MEGA accomplishment and I know Chris will be beaming for a long time about this one.

You can read the full story in the Langley Times here

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Be The Best.

Let’s play lacrosse already!

English: Flag of the Iroquois Confederacy, Hia...

When Chris played for Team BC in the Box National tournament in Ontario as a 14 year-old, we witnessed some amazing lacrosse.

Of particular note was team Iroquois.  They were small, but fast and they never ever gave up.

I’ve written about them before but was reminded of them again this week when a video link was sent my way.

Johnny Powless played at that tournment and was a lacrosse wonderkid.  Sort of Gretzky-like.

Amazing with the ball, without the ball and knowing where the play was going at all times.

This video link shows Powless scoring a goal in the NLL a few weeks back.  He’s just 18.

I know beyond a shadow of a doubt that Chris is still watching this kid go.

At the tournment back a few years ago, BC won the Bronze in an epic battle with Alberta.  We all stayed to watch Iroquois Nation go against Ontario.  Truly David vs Goliath.  I’m literally getting goose bumps as I type this remembering the game.

The Ontario team was HUGE.  They have a massive population and they could have had 3 or 4 top teams and still been competitive.  The Iroquois team was small.  But they didn’t give up.

I know they made a big impact on the BC boys watching.  In many ways it was the early days of Be The Best.

Yes, Iroquois did prevail to win the gold in one of the most fantastic lacrosse games I’ve ever seen.

Here’s Johnny doing his thing today.  I’m wearing my purple Iroquois t-shirt with pride today and still have the hand- made wooden lacrosse sticks dangling from the rear view mirror of our car.

Watch a little Be The Best in action…and this kid is only beginning.

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Be The Best.

CFMA Y2 2012

Acronyms are so warm aren’t they?

Chris hoists BMS teammate Jamie Spagnuolo at Florida tournie.

Tonight is the 2nd annual Christian Friesen Memorial Award presentation.

As a family we are so proud to be associated with the BMS (Burnaby Mountain Selects) program and SFU (Simon Fraser University).

If you’ve read this blog over time you’ve seen many references to both of these organizations.

It’s worth mentioning again the MEGA MAJOR (MM) impact that the BMS camp had on Chris as a young teen.

He saw these university athletes and how hard they worked and it shaped his entire focus on eating habits, studying habits and work-out habits.

In so many ways, the Be The Best thinking started right there…and it didn’t stop.

SFU and the SFU Foundation office have been simply wonderful (understatement) to Ingrid, Max and I.

We are proud to have Chris’ memorial fund help push the dreams of a lacrosse athlete attending SFU.

So if you’ve just joined us, what is BTB (Be The Best)?

Be The Best is a way to live our lives.

It’s using Chris’ passion to fuel us.

It’s making positive decisions about fitness, education and life.

It’s not settling for second best.

To this year’s award winner (still a secret at the time of writing), this award goes way beyond the financial implications.  It’s about carrying the Be The Best banner.  It’s about being associated with a kid who would pound out 200 push-ups a day at 16.  It’s about setting goals, breaking them down into measurable tasks and then working hard.  It’s all of that and more.

We were so proud when Luke Genereaux won the award last year.  He had coached Chris and was one of these young college-age guys that had helped shape Chris’ world.

btw, this is not a commercial for the BMS program, but I guess it might as well be!  If your kid places lacrosse in British Columbia, it’s an amazing program that help takes kids and form them into young men.  To see a number of these players now enter university at SFU and beyond, is super cool.  Jamie, (in picture above) is a great example as he’s in his first of McGill University in Montreal.

You see, at that point it becomes way more than just lacrosse.  This is really about changing lives in a positive way and continuing to make the world a better place…but I think you sort of got that already.

TWITA (That’s what I’m talking about)

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Be The Best.

Lamb lollipops and changing lives

Ever had one of those lamb lollipop things?  They are popular at networking events with the idea being that you can eat them standing up, maybe balance a glass of wine and still mingle with people.

I’m not that coordinated.

So, some context.

Ingrid and I were invited to the Simon Fraser University’s ‘President’s Reception’, because of our connection with Chris’ fund.  We weren’t able to attend the event last year so with a bit of apprehension of the unknown we headed to SFU’s Goldcorp Centre for the Arts in Gastown.

I expected to hear a few words from the President.  I expected to perhaps eat some appetizer type foods.  I expected to hear a few speeches.  I did not expect to be so incredibly moved and inspired.

So…with my hands full, I spied a stand-up table at the edge of the room where one other couple was also doing the balancing act.  I made a simple comment asking if we might join them and a conversation ensued.

The people we met by ‘random circumstance’ (or not) were a Professor and his wife who is a retired Professor herself.

We talked about SFU and their relationship to the donor event.

They of course asked about our connection which led to a conversation about Chris.

The Professor (names protected) talked about a long time friend of his and how his friend’s memorial fund had built up over 20 years and was now helping students on a yearly basis, stating that every dollar counts.

We couldn’t agree more.  To see Chris’ fund payout for the first time last year was amazing and we’re very excited about challenging a young man once again in January when the 2nd gift will be ready for disbursement.

If the evening had ended there, that would already have been more than I expected, but it didn’t.

Our Professor couple went home, read some more about Chris and the next day connected themselves with the fund financially.

Are you kidding me?

You have to be in our situation to really understand what that means, but for a couple, on a completely random and chance meeting, to think enough about what Chris’ fund will mean to future SFU students and citizens was amazing and humbling for us.

I have left that experience again inspired about Being The Best.

Deep heartfelt kindness from total strangers.

A deep understanding of how small decisions have major impacts with time.

For me, it provided another dose of energy as we recognize how impactful our words and actions can be.

And the lamb lollipops….perfect…I went back for seconds.

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Be The Best.

Leaves fall up.

We understand that leaves fall down.

We understand that human lives end.

What we have limited understanding about is what happens to the life or spirit or soul or however you want to describe it, that goes so much beyond the human existence.

One of the things that I’ve learned from time and time again is seeing things from a different perspective is exceptionally valuable.  It pushes me to challenge what I thought was clearly obvious.  Sometimes going up to 10,000 feet…and other times going down to 3 feet.

For no particular reason, I shot some video of leaves falling on a clear cold day this weekend.

I thought it might be fun to reverse the video.

What would it look like if leaves fell up?

It was just one of those little perspective moments of thinking about things in a different way and knowing how much I don’t know about life after life.

This is either super deep, or maybe just off the deep end!  In any event, here’s a little vid.

Leaves falling up.

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Be The Best.

Terry Fox Rocks

Today many thousands of people will be in downtown Vancouver.

The Canucks play the Washington Capitals for the only time this season and then steps away the BC Lions battle Edmonton for first place in the Western Division of the CFL.  (I hope you feel all caught up on the sports scene now)

So as the estimated crowd of 60,000+ rushes to both venues at the same time tonight many thousands will pause at the new Terry Fox plaza, see the new statues and many will even stop to take a picture.

There is a hidden gem however at the plaza that many will miss.

Along the wall, just across from the mega outdoor screen at BC Place, are two plaques.  I had a chance to read them a few weeks ago and they really had an impact.

The first plaque provides some great background on Terry.  You have to remember, this young man was only a month away from 23 years old when he died.  Very young…but what an impact he had and continues to have.

What I loved about the first plaque was the story of Terry’s simple and focused goal.  To raise one dollar for every Canadian…24 million at that time.  Clear, concise and measurable.  We can all learn from that whether it is business or personal.  Loved it.

It was the second plaque however that really got me thinking and it hasn’t stopped.

The wording, written by the artist who designed the new statues, starts:

On a fundamental level, Terry’s life makes us ask, ‘What if?’….if he’d changed his mind and never run, he might have wondered ‘what if’ for the rest of his life. The world would have continued spinning, the weather would be the same. Everything would be the same, yet nothing would be the same.  The way we view life and death and courage and strength wouldn’t be the same.

Sometimes we feel like we’re just one more person here on earth.  Why does anything matter?  Why do any of us bother going on?  But the fact is we do go on and all of us matter, and maybe just maybe, if we follow Terry’s example of choosing the more difficult choice our lives take on meaning greater than we might ever have dared hope.

Douglas Coupland, September 2011

The last paragraph really struck me.

If we’ve learned one lesson again and again these past 19 months is that we only control our next decision…our next choice.

I believe that’s how Terry lived his life.

Deciding each day, one day at a time, to run.

And when he couldn’t run…to fight.

And when he could no longer fight…to inspire.

And now Terry’s dream is lived in millions.

It’s incredibly inspiring and it all comes down to a goal and choices…and as Mr. Coupland has so eloquently stated, ‘…and maybe just maybe, if we follow Terry’s example of choosing the more difficult choice our lives take on meaning greater than we might ever have dared hope.’

If you take in the games today or are downtown anytime, you’ll want to take 5 extra minutes to learn more about this BC legend and get inspired.  It’s truly amazing.

Talk about Be The Best!

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Be The Best.

The Hike

Last week a few of Chris’ highschool buds called (ok, texted) and said they wanted to drop by.

The fact that we have the lacrosse gang and friends gang wanting to stay in touch with us is very cool.

I suggested a little hike and through a series of texts, the plan was approved.

So here we are on this little hike…about a one hour up and down walk in some beautiful forests near Ft. Langley, BC.

I’m not sure what other people on the trail were thinking as we made an unusual hiking squad.  The lovely Ingrid leading the pack with 5 big young men at her side and some old guy trying to keep up and shoot videos at the same time.

Cooper, Dylan, Jesse and Alan all predicted that Tanner (Newport Vacuums) would arrive in dress shoes.

Yup.

Nice jeans and dress shoes…perfect for hiking of course.

What followed was the obligatory, ‘you didn’t tell me this was a hike, you said a walk’…and of course the word ‘tell’ and ‘said’ are just another way to say ‘text’….cause no one really talks to each other any more right? 😉

So, we had a great walk/hike.

The sun streamed through the trees and it reminded us that Chris was with us too.

As we walked we actually didn’t text, but talked, and learned about the latest updates from the Gang.

It’s a privilege to stay connected.

For a little fun, I’ve put together a video of the event.

Have a great week.

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Be The Best.

Lions, Eskimos and Fathers…V2

I wrote a post in June 2010 after Max took me to the opening of Empire Field for a BC Lions football game vs the Edmonton EskimosHere’s a link to that story.

Fast forward 16 months and we did it again.

Not Empire, but we went to the opening of the new BC Place on Friday with 50,000 of our closest friends and saw those same BC Lions beat the Eskimos in a great match at a fantastic new facility.

New building aside, the best aspect of the evening was another experience shared and added to the memory banks for life.

Those are gold and worth every cent of admission…and then some.  (just don’t tell the Lions that…I don’t want them to raise their ticket prices)

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Be The Best.

Maxing out a Sprint Triathlon

My personal lexicon was increased by a new phrase just a few weeks ago.

Sprint Triathlon.

I think that’s basically an oxymoron to start with.

Ok young readers.  This is probably the highest number of big words used in the opening of this blog ever…but in celebration of back to school just 4 weeks away, we’ll continue.

A sprint triathlon is a swim, bike and running race…except the distances are shorter than a full length event.

These are perfect events for those wanting a triathlon experience and are trying something new or simply want a shorter distance.

Don’t be fooled.  This is still an extreme sport!  750m in the pool.  That is a lot of lengths.  18k on the bike.  I get tired driving that far and usually would require 2 Starbucks stops.  5k running after all that? Yah right.

So…my son Max had a goal.  He was going to do this thing.  The Walnut Grove Triathlon.

Cool.  Except he didn’t really have a bike, didn’t have any specific training and didn’t know a soul who was going in this event.

I’m super proud of the kid.  He approached this like he was trying something new and what he didn’t know wasn’t going to stop him from trying. For example, he knew he didn’t have all the specialized gear but that didn’t get in his way.  He finished in 90 minutes exactly and was right in the middle of the pack.  That is an incredible result for trying an event for the first time without coaching or training with a team or the superior clothing and equipment of most racers.

It’s really Be The Best principle personified.

What I mean by that is Be The Best is about so much more than winning.  It’s about competing.  It’s about trying something new.  It’s about not letting the fear of the unknown get in your way.

IT’S ABOUT NOT KNOWING EXACTLY HOW YOU’RE GOING TO REACH A GOAL, BUT SETTING THE GOAL AND THEN STARTING FORWARD ANYWAYS!

Nice job Max.  We are very proud of ya!!

Here’s a little video proof.  Note: (Time clock on picture is not official for each racer because of a graduated start in the pool for the swim portion of the race. Max’s official time was 1:30:00 on the nose)