My dad was never at the forefront of my sporting career controlling or forcing my brother or I in our athletic endeavours. Both mom and dad never pushed or pressured us to get better, he was never “an over the top sporting father”. However, he was always the supportive pillar, there to analyze, motivate and most importantly lead by example. Our parents were amazing sporting parents! They never pushed us, they just taught us the importance and value of sports.
My dad never boasted about his childhood exploits in sports but, by all accounts he was a very smooth skater and a solid baseball player. My dad never had the opportunity to play highly organized sports during his childhood due in large part to the era in which he grew up. The sandlot or the outdoor rink provided a backdrop for my dad’s sporting development. In my opinion, it was this aspect of his sporting experience that made him a great sporting father.
My father never missed an opportunity to play catch with us or go skating, he would always suggest that we get in better shape, train and practice. Nevertheless, he would never be forceful or insistent. He would motivate by creating a sporting self reliance and in some way created intrinsic motivation and a drive within us to strive to constantly improve and excel while always promoting class and modesty.
My dad would subtly remind us from time to time how special and unique sports were to have in our lives and that others didn’t always have the financial opportunity or athletic ability to play at a high level.
He wasn’t intrusive in our sporting careers by showing us how to take a wrist shot or hit a ball to the opposite field but he was always there at the end of practices to pick us up or in the corner of the rink always quietly observing our progression and work ethic. The drive home wasn’t obtrusive or intimidating it was usually quiet and reserved. If he had something to share it would constructive and to the point.
Often times my dad would just arrive at the rink when practice was ending, he had just worked late and rushed to the rink to pick me up. His quiet demeanour was slightly frustrating by times but as I grew older I came to appreciate the quiet times together.
As a young boy I wanted his feedback in some way I wanted his praise. He would occasionally talk about my decisions with the puck, but I feel the most frustrating aspect about his perspective of my play was that fact that all those times he had told me to get in better shape, I hadn’t taken him seriously. Looking back on my playing days I wasn’t really in the best shape I could have been so much better if I had only listened. Of course my dad knew me very well he didn’t want to push, he wanted to make me better as a player and a person.
In my opinion, our dad taught us the most valuable lesson surrounding the sporting world. Leading by example within his profession/occupation my father taught us the value of a work ethic, dedication and pride in your personal performance. My father demonstrated that “hard work” is truly the one variable in athletics and in life that sets you apart from others.
Being part of the game for the better part of thirty-eight years as a player, coach, broadcaster, writer and scout I can truly say that my father was instrumental in shaping my character and identity as a player, coach, teacher and person.
It’s taken me a long time to process, analyze, appreciate and cherish all those quiet drives home.
I hope to apply all those life lessons I learned and so deeply value throughout my journey in fatherhood.
Thanks Dad for everything, Happy Father’s Day, I love you,