Basketballs, brawls, and championship teams

There are a few ways that I love to spend my Saturdays and being in a gym watching basketball is one of them.
As I’ve mentioned before, I grew up in Ottawa. My father happened to
be a professor at Carleton University and he used to coach the basketball team, and he became very attached.
As a result, my sister and I often were visitors at the “Ravens’ Nest” on Friday and Saturday nights. Later in life, I did an internship at Carleton and worked with the basketball team, spending my Saturday on the bench (or, immediately behind it anyway).
This past weekend, not only did I once again spend my Friday and Saturday watching quality basketball right here in Fort Frances, but also was pleased to see the Ravens are the OUA East champions for the second year in a row after going 22-0 in regular-season play.
This weekend, I will attempt to clear my always busy schedule for the Ravens’ game against McMaster to see if they can win the OUA title.
Also, soon my life will be taken over by my inexplicable attachment to the NCAA’s “March Madness” tournament.
All this to explain, despite the fact I am now a working sports reporter, that I am still a huge fan of sports. It’s hard not to get involved with the crowd and feel pride for the way the local team plays.
It happens—and sometimes it happens quickly.
I think the fact that I have been a fan of so many different teams for so long makes me better at what I do. I don’t know every nuance of every sport, I don’t know the names of all the players yet, but I have an understanding of what sports mean to people.
Mostly I just feel privileged to watch people who have the determination, strength, and (unlike me) the co-ordination to train and take part in sports.
One of my favourite memories from college was watching our men’s volleyball team warm up. They also played really well, winning bronze at nationals in my first year and silver at the provincials last year, but the warm-up always astonished me.
These guys would serve the ball so hard, it would smack down on the floor, bounce up to the ceiling, hit the floor again on its way out the gym door, and down the hall. Every member of the team could do this.
Also at college, I had the pleasure of watching Jason Spezza play for half a season. Before he got traded to the Belleville Bulls of the OHL, I thought Spezza was going to be another Daigle debacle. I just didn’t see what it was he had—and then he became a Bull.
On an average night, the kid is good and then, sometimes, he can just make your jaw drop.
In a nice segue, I’d also like to mention one of the most entertaining things I’ve ever seen, which I remembered fondly after the Ottawa-Philadelphia game last Friday night.
When two goalies make the effort to skate down the ice towards each
other and throw off their layers of equipment, an excitement builds. It’s just something you can’t look away from.
I was home from school one weekend and went to see my boys, the Ottawa 67s (1999 Memorial Cup and 2001 OHL champs), play against the Toronto St. Michael’s Majors.
In net for Ottawa was J.F. Perras, currently playing university hockey, against Andy Chiodo, now in the Pittsburgh Penguins system.
Perras saw Chiodo get involved in the brawl starting in front of his net and he was off. I remember it in slow motion. He took his mask off and left it on the back of the net. He started skating up ice and the catching glove went, then the blocker when he reached centre.
Actually, I have it on tape.

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