When I was a BCIT student back in the late 1980’s I had an instructor who inspired me.
He loved market research and that was what had drawn me back to post secondary as a ‘mature’ (insert your own joke here) student.
He had connections. We worked with Canadian Holidays interviewing customers coming back from vacation in Cancun. Yes, along with 2 other students, we flew down to Cancun, left the plane because of custom issues, stayed at the airport for 2 hours and then reboarded the plane and interviewed returning vacationers who had just spent one or two weeks in the sun. People thought we were crazy, but I loved it. The pilot announced that BCIT students were heading down the aisles passing out surveys and I just thought the whole thing was cool.
Months later I was privileged enough to be in the Boardroom of Whistler/Blackcomb presenting another research report that we had conducted as students…actually interviewing people on the ski hill while going up the chairlift or at the restaurant.
Ron also had connections with the Canucks and although that didn’t occur during my stint as a student, BCIT was very connected with the organization.
Ron evenutally left BCIT and has sadly passed away a numbers of years back, but I will NEVER forget him or his influence on me.
Fast forward to last night, Oct 1, 2011.
We’ve been rekindling the relationship with the Canucks and I was very excited to have a group of students and staff working the concourse levels of Roger’s arena, creating hockey cards for kids and connecting with our alumni.
What made it even more cool was Max was one of the student volunteers as he is now in BCIT’s Broadcasting program.
In talking to our students helping out last night, it was obvious that the connection with the Canucks was a big deal and that kind of linkage between BCIT and the Canucks brand is pretty unique.
For me I loved the fact that we are connected again. I thought of Ron Venne and the influence one person can have. I thought of Chris and his continuing impact. I not only thought of Max, but saw him in action and thought about how privileged I am to be able to experience that.
There were more than a few references to the Vancouver Canucks ‘slaying the dragon’ when they beat the Blackhawks on their quest for the Cup, which if you can believe, began two months ago!
Now, as we wait in slightly nervous (and maybe giddy) anticipation for Game 6 on Monday night, we wonder if the nightmarish Messier infused dragon of the NY Rangers in 1994 will be slayed….embodied of course by the bears from Boston this year.
Too much hockey history for ya?
Anyhooo, we saw some dragons being slayed of a different sort today.
What an amazing event. I’m embarrassed to say, but in the 25 years of this event going on in my backyard, this was the first time I’ve seen it live.
The racing was cool to see, but more remarkable were the people behind the paddles. There were several teams in bright pink that we wondered about. Breast cancer survivors we were told. Talk about slaying a dragon. Cool.
Turning something very awful into action for something very good.
That’s slaying the dragon.
That’s Be The Best.
We saw that team being applauded as they made their way down to their boat for one of the many races of the day. You knew how proud the family and friends in the crowd were of their paddler.
We loved watching Chris row for his school club and seeing how these teenagers learned to work together to perform a task. Actually more than that. If you didn’t work together you would fail miserably, not simply succeed at a lower level. Teamwork meant EVERYTHING.
We watched a number of practices and then cheered loudly on race day as we watched these High Schoolers push to the finish just 500 short days ago. We are so proud of those rowers too…and of course one of them has a place in our heart forever.
Maybe a strong GO CANUCKS GO doesn’t fit in a blog about loss, grief and the new normal…but I beg to differ.
I’ve written before about sitting down with Max and Chris watching the Nux getting eliminated from the playoffs by Chicago. I told them that sick feeling we all had was what it was like being a lifelong Canucks fan.
Sure that was an emotional statement at the time, but ultimately, I still had hope.
So, this season we cheered, watched, joined hockey pools and generally had a great time living the experience with the Canucks.
That brings us to this week. Due to a friend’s ridiculous schedule and fantastic generosity Max and I ended up with tickets to Game 7 on Tuesday.
I was ecstatic to take Max to that experience. This pic (lousy blackberry camera) shows the hype and excitement…and that was just the pre-game!
I wanted to wear something from Chris as well. I chose his shoes.
When Burrows scores a goal he sometimes shoots an arrow into the sky to remember his friend and fellow Canuck, Luc Bourdon, who had died in a motorcycle crash in 2008.
When Burrows scored in overtime on Tuesday night, Rogers Arena erupted like a volcano.
I don’t think Burrows had a chance to shoot his arrow as he was mobbed and crushed in a happy dog pile.
The emotion I felt was incredible.
I remember high-fiving with Max and others fans around, but mostly just holding my arms in the air and screaming like a moron.
In that moment time stopped and I thought of Chris.
I thought about how much he would have loved to see the Canucks slay this dragon and move forward with the playoffs. I thought about how much I missed sharing that experience with him while at the same time so pumped to be able to share the experience with Max.
I loved standing in Chris’ shoes and drinking in the excitement of the crowd.
Although they couldn’t be there in person, I believe Chris and Luc Bourdon and many other hockey fans were cheering loudly up in their lofty box seats.
Whether coaching the boys soccer teams, Max playing basketball and Chris lacrosse.
Then there was the fan part of sports.
Tonight Ingrid and I ventured out to our first Whitecaps soccer game.
It was a fantastic experience…aside from the referee who felt he should be the center of attention, but alas before this becomes a sports rant, I’ll stop. (cause if I don’t I’ll probably get a red card seeing as they were being handed out like candy tonight) ((ok, I’ll really stop now))
The crowd was great. The game was great. The atmosphere was great. The company was great.
One of the first things Ingrid said to me as we sat down was what do you think Chris would think of the soccer team, MLS in Vancouver etc. I said I knew he would love it and given the open air atmosphere of Empire Field, he probably had the best seats in the house tonight.
I will never forget the Canucks playoff run and disappointment last year and the anticipation of a BIG run this year.
It was riveting and was a great distraction in very tough times. I think though, it was more than just a distraction. It reminded me of the passion that only comes from sports. The kind of passion that Chris lived with. I think that’s the true attraction.
When the winds kick up and the storm is blowin, there are bound to be a few whitecaps on the water. We’ve seen a few of those in our family this past year!
However, it was the Whitecaps tonight, that offered that wonderful first-hand look into the purity and passion of sport and remind us both of another amazing athlete and son we know, love and remember with every heartbeat.
For those ‘well aged’ enough to remember, Stan ‘Steamer’ Syml epitomized the lunch bucket, hard working, never quit attitude of the Canucks in the early 80’s and led the Canucks on their improbable run to the Stanley Cup Finals in 1982.
I talked to Max and Chris about Stan Syml and my new favourite over the more recent years Trevor Linden.
I have the most priceless pictures of each of those players drawn by Max and Chris (Max drew Linden, Chris drew Syml) with their hockey cards inserted in the frame. They gave them to me as Christmas or Birthday presents about 10 years ago and they are still proudly displayed in my office at BCIT.
The thing I loved about Smyl was that he just never quit. It wasn’t about talent. It wasn’t about speed. It wasn’t about size. It was about heart.
As we enter another hockey season, I will never forget the conversations about hockey and sports and how we weaved that into conversations about life and working hard to achieve goals etc.
Well, here we are. The start of a new school year is just around the corner, or just one sleep away.
This Labour Day weekend was so very different from the last one.
I missed being in Saskatoon for the Field Nationals (lacrosse). Instead we had an impromptu semi family reunion at my Dad’s hospital bedside as he went in for colon cancer surgery that had not even been on the radar 2 weeks earlier.
He’s doing very well by the way, and hopefully heading home Tues or Wed. Our family appreciates your continued thoughts and prayers. I’ll have more on that situation and some things I learned there later in the week, but now back to lacrosse.
Both the BC U16 and U19 teams played for in the gold/silver game against Ontario on Sunday afternoon.
Imagine an Ontario team that has thousands of kids try out and picks one team of the best. BC does the same with a fraction of the numbers. It’s hard to measure heart size however. These young men on Team BC wore the mighty CF on their jerseys and I know Chris was yelling like crazy during both games.
If you can believe it, Ontario won both games, but only by ONE GOAL.
To give some perspective, the U16 BC team lost to Ontario by over 10 goals in the round robin.
This result is nothing less than amazing to me.
Remember the ’94 Canucks and their Stanley Cup run?