Victoria, BC. One year ago, to the very day. July 8, 2020.
Lockdown, the response to a rapidly developing global pandemic, enters a fourth month. I am frustrated and bored, idling away long days in virtual isolation. Far too much free time on my hands. No immediate and apparent solution.
Still, a colleague recommends putting pen to paper, or fingers to laptop keys, as a way to fill in the hours. And so, guided by his support and a few additional tips, I start a blog. Another friend assists in setting up a basic website. My wife insists I commit to publishing the various posts, to hold myself accountable.
I have absolutely no idea what I am doing, or what might transpire. A lifetime in sport, as a player, a coach, a referee, emerges as a backdrop.
From my memories come a variety of stories. Of heroes and villains, wins and losses, elation and pure joy, heartbreak and despair. They all feature. Ideas bounce around my brain, the majority immediately forgotten or lacking in shape or substance. Yet, just a single word or random phrase, perhaps scribbled on a bedside notepad in the middle of the night, sometimes trigger other reflections. Surprisingly, these reflections can produce a strong range of emotions, the computer screen, every so often, capable of blurring from the laughter or the tears.
On other occasions, with a self-imposed weekly deadline looming, the writing becomes a pain. Staring at a blank sheet of paper or an empty screen, trying desperately to assemble words into coherent thoughts, is a daunting experience.
Fortunately, common sense saves me. I come to understand it is not actual game details but rather tales about people, from all walks of life, that resonate the most. And so it proves. I get to highlight the careers and accomplishments of some absolutely remarkable individuals. Of Simon Ibell, Ken Shields, Steve Nash, Jelena Mrdjenovich, John Scolinos and Bill Samuel to name just a few. All impacted, and continue to impact, me and so many others.
As for important life lessons, hopefully the “truths and verities of the heart”, those espoused by the great American novelist William Faulkner, ring loud and clear. Of love and honour, pity and pride, passion and sacrifice.
Initially, I publish the blog with a distinct sense of trepidation. Will anyone actually read it?? If they do, what will they think?? However, as time goes by, I realize it doesn’t matter, that the exercise and opinions offered are mine and mine alone.
Still, on very recently discovering that the website actually keeps track of the number of visitors and post views, I can’t help myself. I take a peek. Needless to say, I am pleasantly surprised, more like shocked, with the results. In twelve months, over 1700 readers, from 23 countries, check out A Life in Sport. 4100 site sessions. I can safely say I did not anticipate that.
Yet, the numbers do present an opportunity. Namely, to pass on my gratitude. First, to a wise woman, back in the 12th century, who suggested that “the world’s most powerful prayer is two simple words.”
And so it is I can convey sincere thanks to all those who share my blog journey of the past twelve months. To those who read the various posts, who subscribe to the website. Especially to those who take the time to spread the word to friends and acquaintances, and to those who offer commentary. The criticisms are fair and accurate, the observations on point, any bouquets generous and appreciated.
Final props go to Jay, Zac and Lisa, for the encouragement and advice. For the push to start in the first place.
It has been an interesting and unexpectedly fruitful year, opening up possibilities for the future.