As 12 of the city’s finest basketball players hit the hardwood in Nova Scotia this week, I can’t help but think how much my life benefitted from sports.
The Corner Brook Regional High Titans, like so many teams in this province today and countless teenagers before them, packed much more than their gym bags in preparation for a journey of a lifetime. Their suitcases were filled with more than sneakers and uniforms, tape and bandages; and their lives will be influenced by much more than a game of basketball.
The annual Coal Bowl Classic is one of the best tournaments in Atlantic Canada, at least. The young men will be treated like professional athletes for one week, I’m sure — ushered out of the pre-game warm-up with music blaring, lights flashing, and their names called in front of an unfamiliar crowd. A tournament of this class will definitely be pulling out all the stops.
I never competed in the Coal Bowl, but I did travel to Charlottetown, P.E.I. for a tournament in my Grade 11 year. It was an amazing experience. I don’t remember a whole lot about the games, our record, or the scores. I do remember participating in the three-point shootout and hearing my name called to flashing lights as the starters ran onto the floor was pretty cool indeed.
However, for me, this trip was something that meant so much more. I boarded a small plane with my teammates for a week on a foreign land. It was my first time off the island, a young kid from tiny Baie Verte who had no idea how big the real world was. After the airplane, it was huge shopping malls and gymnasiums with running tracks overhead.
There was living with that family, God only knows who they are, but I remember they had a small blind dog with a bad gas problem. I always had a small gift of thanks for the family I would get billetted with, a card saying thank you was never left behind.
I believe this trip also included my first time to a movie theatre — can’t recall which one we saw now, but it did have Sharon Stone in it (and no mom, it wasn’t that one — I already seen that one the night I stayed at a friend’s place).
It is funny though, thinking back upon life growing up as an athlete. I was on a road trip to some part of the island every other weekend, but it is hardly the games themselves that left the lasting impression. It is the memories of times had between the competition that lasts longest. It is the people you meet and the experiences you have that forms who you are or who you become.
Cherish your times young Titans, they are truly some of the best ones you will ever have.