Mournings, mistakes, and musings

Time for another hodgepodge of thoughts on a chilly winter’s day to hopefully warm your heart, if not your frozen toes, and stimulate your brain.
• • •
This past week saw the passing of two well-loved local residents with sporting connections,
Fort Frances is grieving the loss of Louise and Dave Chambers, who were killed in a two-vehicle accident on an icy stretch of Highway 11 east of town last week.
Their twin sons, Rick and Dale Chambers, are well-known fixtures of the local soccer community, and I had the pleasure of serving on the Fort Frances Youth Soccer board of directors with Rick in the past.
Their older brother, Shaun, was a top-flight arm wrestler, as well.
I was fortunate enough to meet Louise and Dave earlier this fall during “Seniors’ Week” at the Sister Kennedy Centre, where they were enjoying themselves playing cribbage and trading laughs with their fellow card players.
I came across the picture I took of them while combing through our photo archives last week. When I saw them, it was an immediate dose of reality.
None of us know how long we have on this Earth. So make the most of every day—and never forget to tell the ones you love how you feel.
Tomorrow might be too late.
My condolences to the Chambers family.
• • •
While not as locally an impact, the death of Nelson Mandela in his homeland of South Africa resonated around the world on many fronts.
Mandela, who was a boxer in his younger days, fought the apartheid movement in the country with such staunch resistance, he ended up being imprisoned for 27 years because of it.
Yet despite having every reason to hate his white captors, he instead strongly embraced the concepts of forgiveness, tolerance, and understanding.
When he was released from prison and eventually became the president of South Africa, he turned to sports as a main part of the foundation of rebuilding his nation.
His words of inspiration fuelled the South African men’s rugby team to defy the odds and win the 1995 Rugby World Cup right in the capital city of Johannesburg in an event portrayed so masterfully in the Morgan Freeman film, “Invictus” (if you haven’t seen it, it’s a must-see film).
For an audience of 63,000 spectators, both white and black, to chant Mandela’s name after the momentous victory spoke volumes about the high regard in which he was held.
The following year, the South African men’s soccer team won the African Cup of Nations in what was seen as another great step in not only further returning the country to the international sports stage, but also even more concretely unifying a nation which not so long before was so clearly divided.
In my mind, Mandela’s messages of peace rank on the same plain of virtue and character as those once preached by Dr. Martin Luther King during America’s racially-turbulent decade of the 1960s.
Here’s hoping his passing will help all of us take a deeper look at how we treat each other, both on the fields of play and in life.
• • •
As one of my media heroes, John Short on 1260 AM radio in Edmonton, used to say: for the first time in my life, I’m wrong again.
In this case, twice.
I erroneously reported last week that Border Skating Club member Jamie Spencer won two silvers and one bronze at the SuperSkate 2013 event in Winnipeg on the last weekend of November.
In fact, the young ice star had three silvers, including a previously unreported one in the preliminary 10-and-over freeskate ‘C’ division.
As well, my story on the Muskie senior boys’ basketball team’s performance at the 35th-annual Play It Again Sports Westgate Tiger Tip-Off in Thunder Bay included a mention of Darren Lundgren leading the Muskies in scoring with 47 points in an 81-70 loss to the Dryden Eagles.
In fact, that terrific effort belonged to Caleb McIntosh, making it back-to-back 40-point games for the super senior in the tournament.
My apologies to those athletes for my mistakes.
• • •
With Kenora securing the hosting rights for next year’s OFSAA girls’ hockey championship, and Dryden doing the same for the senior girls’ and boys’ volleyball championships, it seems one notable NorWOSSA school—namely Fort Frances High School—is missing out on some great opportunities to promote both its athletic teams and the community in general.
There’s no doubt staging a provincial high school championship is an onerous task involving plenty of organization, committed volunteers, and corporate support.
Those who usually throw their names in the hat, including teachers and athletic directors at the various host schools, most certainly have a delicate balancing act to combine their tournament responsibilities with those of their every-day lives.
I’m not saying it’s something that needs to happen in the next 12 or even 24 months. But hopefully at some point in the near future, enough people with the wherewithal to put on such an event in Fort Frances can be found.
The town has not hosted an OFSAA championship since the boys’ hockey provincials landed here in 2006. And from all accounts, it was an excellently-run tournament that left the visiting teams pleased while providing a sizable economic boost to the local area.
Maybe not today, maybe not tomorrow. But someday soon, it should be the focus of this community to bring another provincials here.
It will be plenty of hard work. But the positive spin-offs will be just as plentiful.