Once, playing high school football, I remember running back the ball from our own 20 yard line – past the centre sideline where my coach and teammates were cheering me on – to within 20 yards of getting a touchdown… when something weird happened.
When looking over my shoulder, I saw two guys trying to catch up with me. One had a helmet that seemed two sizes too big, wobbling on his head, while the other had this strange, wild man, look on his face. Mesmerized, I thought, “What’s all the fuss about?”
After the game, Mr. Edwards, our coach and math teacher said, “Parry, why don’t you ride back with me.” So I’m thinking I’m in for some sort of special commendation, when, after a bit, he turns to me says, “Why’d you stop running?” Stunned, I asked, “Did I?” However, because he respected all his team player’s individuality, he said no more about it. He obviously knew I felt bad enough and would self-correct my own mistakes. I did!
Acclaimed hockey superstar Bobby Orr, in his book, Orr: My Story, says he was lucky in that all his coaches just let him play his natural style.
As kids, when Bobby and his friends were playing hockey – often on a frozen lake – there might be 20 kids show up. That meant that if he wanted to keep the puck on his stick, he had to stick handle through ten players. Later, when playing organized hockey, he’d only had to stick handle through six players – which he figured was easier! “I was shaped by my own passion – not what someone else wanted me to be …what’s important is that kids are doing something they love.”
Sadly, in retirement, he noticed increasing incidents of parents involved with post-game brawls. “Parents who stifle their kid’s passion are going to find life even harder.”
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Basic respect is something everybody deserves – from referees to rink attendants; responsibility, like respect, is behaviour that should apply off and on the ice.
Orr recounts a basketball player claiming that he didn’t have any responsibility as a role model and that those types of expectations shouldn’t be placed on pro athletes.
Bobby, respectively, disagrees. You may have special skills and worked hard, but no one becomes successful all on their own. Others in your life have no doubt offered encouragement and help at key times in your development. Beyond yourself, thinking of others… when you make it in life, it’s time to “play it forward”. Orr offers valuable perspective,“Sometimes we are reminded that there are things far more important than hockey.”
“Put me in coach/I’m ready to play, today Don’t say “it ain’t so”/You know the time is now” – Centerfield by John Fogerty