Recreation and Sports

We Are the Champions!

The time: Winter 1980-81
The Place: Burin Peninsula
The Event: Regional C Varsity Basketball tournament.

(Apologies about the heads cut off, will try to resolve later! Picture from 1980-81 Yearbook. Adding again here:)


In the fall of 1980, in grade 10, I tried out for the varsity basketball team. I really had no expectation I’d ever be selected, I’m not overly athletic or coordinated, but I was, for the time, tall.  I was in reasonably decent fitness I guess, as were most of us at the time, because we were always running, or walking, or outside, as it was really all we had to do.

I did have reasonably good reflexes, and have been told I played decently as a street hockey goalie, but I, by no means, thought of myself as having much athletic ability.  I mainly tried out to show I was interested, and for “something to do”.

Imagine my surprise, and I’m sure most of the school’s, when I made it.  I have no idea yet how it happened. Only Rid Nichol can answer that, if he even knows now, 30 years later.

In any event, I warmed the benches in many local games at our school, hosting others from around the area, Musgravetown, Clarenville, and I’m not sure which others, and travelled to a few as well.

I was lucky enough to play with some very talented players though, Kevin Martin, Rick Verge, Chris Laite, Charles March, Brian Wilcox, Derek Burt, Mario Vary, David Bowering, and Faron Turley.

Our tournaments were broken into 3 levels, if I remember correctly, the first remains unnamed in my mind unfortunately, maybe zone?, but was at the Clarenville High School.  I really don’t recall much about it to be honest, but we did win the tournament.

The next step was to play in the regional tournament, which was held in the town of Burin.  I have three main memories of that tournament.

One: The gym we played in had a lot of condensation, and the floor was damp a lot. The referee of one or more of our games, was a former teacher at our school, Jim Pittman, and we seemed to be getting called for an inordinate amount of travelling calls from slipping in the dampness.

Two: We were playing some team, and were up by a substantial amount, and I got to play for a bit.  I remember keep missing my shots, and the team kept feeding me the ball to try again.  I finally made a basket, and the whole team cheered, which felt really good for the guy who was mostly known as the school’s nerd.

Three: We won the tournament! And thats where the title comes in.  I remember riding the bus back home, fairly late at night I believe, and all of us singing along loudly to this song when it came on the radio.

Photo courtesy Faron Turley

This also meant we moved on to play in the provincial championship, which was held in Grand Bank. I remember I was billeted with Chris Laite at some person’s home, and that, if memory serves, we missed out on the playoffs by total points scored, being 4 shy of making the “cross over”.
I’m sure a horrible disappointment at the time, but fondly remembered now.

At the end of that school year, our jerseys were “retired” – these used to be used year after year. And we got to keep them.  I think mine finally gave up the ghost only a couple years ago, and shredded into dust.


Troutin’ with da byes

I’m not sure what year it was, or even many of the details now, but one summer many moons ago, there were tales of huge sea-trout coming up the brooks and rivers of southern Newfoundland.

Always up for trouting, and also for a chance to explore more of our great province, Eric and I decided to go have a look and see what we could find.  Another one of the gang, not necessarily a usual suspect in all our schemes, but a gang member all the same, Cory Avery took the trip with us.

We got up one morning, packed up our tackle and gear, and headed west out the highway, and then out around Bishop’s Falls, took the Bay D’Espoir highway south, driving down past Conne River and seeing places and sights that were all new to us.

This part of the province is pretty remote, but beautiful beyond belief, with gorgeous coves, beautiful ocean and beaches and rivers.

We really had no idea where to go, and I’m not really sure that mattered, but we made our way to Head of Bay D’Espoir and found some promising looking bridges and brooks, and tried our luck.

Unfortunately, no trout were to be had that day, but we did explore and see a lot, including a trip in what I believe was a power utility road to a lake that was dammed for power.   In there we also tried our luck, but again no trout.  Eric (I think it was Eric) did hook and bring ashore a ouananiche (landlocked salmon).

We farted around a bit more down in this area, and then packed up and made our way back home.  The packing up though will be something I’ll always remember, because I broke the tip off my prized rod closing the trunk.  I’m sure it was nothing fancy, but it was one I got during the closing sale of the old Chain Store, and I loved it, best rod I ever had.

Anyway, another story and trip to remember for a lifetime :).