The Coach Speaks Out |
with Mike Lushington
I am writing this column a week in advance of its publication. I have just finished my second stint as a public address announcer at the Canada Winter Games venue for Cross Country Skiing in Charlo. I have two more such stints for cross country, followed by four for biathlon which will be contested during the second week of the Games.
The first two days of competition were all that I had imagined they might be. Even the weather cooperated, as much as it is going to in this particularly aggressive and cranky winter. Both days were bright, cold, windy - actually pretty good conditions (minus the wind) for cross country skiing. The races went as scheduled and everyone performed their parts to the best of their ability. If all goes as well for the next several days, this will have been an excellent Games, at least from the viewpoint of organizers of the two events in Charlo.
Over the years, I have been most fortunate. I have had the privilege of teaching a great many wonderful kids during my thirty years in the high schools of Dalhousie and of working with many more in my various stints of coaching, both in Cross Country and in Biathlon. Currently, I will be watching the performances of two of those very special young people - Jeannine Beatty and Rene Berube - during the biathlon competition. They, as other young people have done before, have blessed me with their dedication, hard work, sense of commitment, and, most importantly, with their friendship. A coach can ask for no more. As I am commenting on the progress of the competitions each day, I will be trying to remain as objective as I can, but I will be watching these two young and talented athletes with particular pride.
Pride really is the topic of this column. I have had several occasions over the years to mention, in one context or another, just how proud I have been to have been associated with a group of people as dedicated to what they do as are the members of les Aventuriers Cross Country Ski Club in Charlo. Never has the reason for this pride been more obvious than it has been over the past little while, as they have worked toward making these Games the success that they so obviously are. As volunteers, they regularly do things that no one could ever ask an employee to do, and they do so from a sheer sense of pride and commitment. Some has to get up at 4:00 AM to groom trails after an overnight snow storm so that the course can be ready for the following morning's competition? Someone has to work endless hours to make the computers work, or to print results and start lists, or to prepare lunches for everyone else? No problem it will be done and the smiles that accompany the completion of the task will be added in for free. More and more, they have come to exemplify all that is important in volunteering - values on which I often talk at length when I am conducting coaching and volunteer training courses.
My athletes, my friends, and my fellow club members are not alone. Any of us who spend our time working with such people know them in the same way that I am describing them. Just how much they enrich our lives is impossible to calculate, but it is not hard to appreciate. And this is, to me at least, the wonder of involvement in amateur sport. They all share a dream, and they are willing, anxious, to put in the time and the work to do what they can to make that dream come true.
This is my opportunity to say, "Thank You"! Thank you to the athletes and the coaches, to the trail people and the secretaries, to the parking lot attendants, to the medical staff and all of those hundreds of others who have made these Games a very special memory for this one commentator.