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.


The Three Dons

This is curling season in Canada.  The Scotties Tournament of Hearts just ended, and starting tomorrow the Tim Horton’s Brier begins.  Curling brings back memories of growing up and watching Sportsweekend and other sports programming on CBC on Saturday afternoon and weekends.  Back then every weekend, there was a 1 hour curling program on every Saturday evening in winter.  What was more memorable than the curling in some ways were the hosts.

No they didn’t make you any offers you couldn’t refuse, but it seemed comical that all three hosts were named Don!  Don Wittman, Don Duguid and Don Chevrier.  Curling is a big part of the canadian sports scene, and these guys introduced us to the likes of Al Hackner, the Wrench, Ed Werenich, and the ever so quiet Russ Howard.  I’m not sure what they squeezed into their hour long show back then, but I remember watching religiously as a kid.  I remember dad laying on the couch, me laying on the floor, with my feet over the furnace grate, and watching closely. Not only is it a fun sport to watch, but brings back great memories of growing up.

Looking forward to watching more this weekend and next week!

Randall’s Garden

Snook’s Harbour

Down at the bottom of the hill, just below where you see the beach start is, or was, Randall’s garden.  Watching NFL football playoffs today reminds me of many a championship played there, in baseball, soccer, football, frisbee football, and even cross country pool/croquet.

Yes we had our own rules, large rocks were bases, arbitrary spots on the garden were end zones, throwing the ball at a runner and hitting him was an out, two more rocks could have been a soccer net.

Everyone played, of all ages, we needed to to just get enough to play.  Some rude comments and names were called, Sulfy Nelewah (yes I know, thats not how it was spelt backwards, but its how we sounded it out), Pick-Ass, and more I’m sure I’ve forgotten.

I remember getting off the school bus in the evening in Snook’s Harbour and playing whatever our game of the day was till dad came home from work and catching a ride home with him, often to hop on the bike after supper and ride back up to play till dark.  I can remember Aunt Vick calling Scott and Derek and Rod home for supper, yes we could hear her up at bottom (up at bottom?!, thats a post for another day).

How many red, white and blue balls did Craig hit in the brook when he “cross-bat”, how many times did Randy hit Mac’s roof? and even more, how many times did we throw rocks behind the ball when it went into the harbour to try and push it ashore?

If we got thirsty or hungry we could go to Ron’s store, or Bax’s store, or Hefford’s store, or Aunt Vick’s store.  I mean how many stores can a town of 80 support?  I will always remember Aunt Glad Hefford selling gum by the stick, and recording the tax on everything in a scribler.  Aunt Vick had this ancient cash register, was fun just to look at it.

Many an hour was spent on that garden, it was our field of dreams.