Wednesday, 13 November 2013

The importance of sport, friends and family

This is very rough....

As I take a lull at the midway point of my vacation I felt the need to reflect and share how cool my life is.  I am not sure if this is motivated by the REO Speedwagon song I just heard in the car ride back to my brothers place or if I am actually a closet emotionally challenged guy.  So here goes;

I have always been a believer in the importance of sport in society.  You can take this however you like, but the fact is we are at a time in history where sport is at its utmost importance.   As government and schools try to neglect its importance we need to fight and stand strong to ensure that we are not creating a world of losers.  I am not saying there aren’t loser athletes out there, but the lessons learned in life through sport (regardless of level) are imperative for the growth of our world.  I don’t feel the need to go too far into detail here but the thought that physical literacy is not as important as academia on some level is absurd.  This is a bit of a recount from what has happened in the last week and what is happening soon. 

This is why sport, family and friends drive me in this world.
I started my trip with a night in Seattle with my older brother, his wife and my nephew.  In San Jose I met up with a long time friend from back east and we met up with my long time friend Mark Uyeyama who is the head strength and conditioning coach for the San Francisco 49ers.  From there we went to watch one of my favorite clients and athletes Jason Garrison of the Vancouver Canucks take an epic win over the San Jose Sharks.  Throughout the game Mark and I chatted as if we had not missed a beat since we lived together in University.  I have only seen Mark a handful of times over the last 13 or so years, but we chat about work and life on a regular basis.  We share the same passion and line of work but we are in very different settings.  It was awesome to chat about sport in general with a guy that works and I would say is a leader in the industry of elite athletes about the similarities and differences between football and hockey. 
After a few days of destroying Makers Marks and amazing Mexican food we headed to Palo Alto to catch up with Jordan Gross of the Carolina Panthers and Dustin Mcquivey and family.  Part of the reason for this trip was to watch some high level sport, but it was far more about catching up with old friends.  As we were meeting Jordan we got to catch up with Coach Joe Kenn of the Panthers (he was our strength and conditioning coach at Utah) as well.  And again, old stories come up as if no time had passed.  From there it was onto San Francisco to prep for the game where old friends and coaches fought a redonkulous battle. 
The game was on November 10th and there was a wonderful pre-game ceremony to commemorate all of the veterans.  This made me more emotional than the REO Speedwagon song earlier.  About 5 or 6 years ago I was in Ireland with the national U-20 rugby team for a series of matches at the same time of year.  I remember vividly coach Tim Murdy talking to the young men just before our moment of silence as we gazed upon the cenotaph in London Derry.  I don’t know what the feeling is that came over me or how to describe it, but it’s only happened to me 3 times.  The next time I felt it was at Vimy Ridge while on a rugby tour with the Capilanos.  And then again this past week.  I don’t know if this last time occurred because I was sitting next to Dustin, his family, Jordans family and our friend and former assistant strength coach Cheyenne Pietri or if it was the fact that it brought up the loss and memory of our teammate/friend Steve McCain that passed suddenly this year.  Even though I hadn’t seen Steve since I left back home to Canada, I always laughed about good times we had eating at the buffet.  Steve and Dustin are the opposite of me in some ways as they are both Mormon and I am a piss tank and at times slightly vulgar.   Very unlikely friends but there is a bond that I don’t believe you can get if you haven’t played sport.  In life we have acquaintances, co-workers, friends of friends but outside of sport I don’t think you have the kind of friends an athlete has.  The kind that picks you up even if you fucked up royally, makes you laugh in inappropriate settings helps you bury a body should you need it.  Well maybe not the last one, but I can tell you I have all of these types of peeps in my life and I am truly thankful for it.  After the 49ers game we reconvened for a night out on the town with some more old friends in Jordan’s brother in law and his peeps who are now my peeps.  To be honest, I still haven’t stopped laughing.
I am now back in Seattle and am getting ready to meet up with Craig McLaren as we head to Nashville to watch the Titans face Indianapolis on the Thursday night game.  One of my long time friends and athletes is playing for Tennessee and is helping to make this trip more epic.  I have to go back for a minute.  Craig and I are meeting some friends that we have know since we were 13 that are in Nashville for work.  We will be in a box with about 20 or so guys from the Onni group of Companies and I will get to catch up with one of my best friends from high school that I rarely get to see because he travels and lives abroad now.  Paolo and I played football, rugby and wrestled together and spent way too much time together in my youth and it is going to be great to catch up with him at the game (I forgot to mention, we got some field passes which is kinda a big deal).  The day after the game, Craig, Chris, His wife Katherine and myself are heading down or up (I don’t know my Southern Geography) to watch his old Alma matter in Mississippi play at home. 
Please don’t get me wrong, we can make friends anywhere and some of us are lucky enough to have a wicked family, but at the end of the day I don’t know many people that could share what I did with people from two different countries and geographical opposites as I am and did. 
To quote one of my favorite poems:

“The woods are lovely, dark, and deep,
But I have promises to keep,
And miles to go before I sleep,
And miles to go before I sleep”

Yours in Bourbon,


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