Hearts’ desire

It’s difficult for me to remember . . . well, most things.
But I don’t think my premature senility has any part in my failure to recall a more exciting day in high school sports than last Thursday’s NorWOSSA court sports playoffs at “The Fish Tank.”
Let’s start at the top, which is exactly where the Muskie junior girls’ volleyball squad found themselves after losing just one set against the Kenora Broncos and Dryden Eagles en route to league gold.
With their nerves tighter than my belt after a three-course meal, the black-and-gold looked skittish as they lost the opening set of the best-of-five final to the first-place Eagles.
But despite falling behind in each of the following three sets, the home side upheld local pride and disposed of an Eagles team that only two weeks before had sat unblemished atop the NorWOSSA standings.
The junior boys’ basketball squad was the longest shot of the four Muskie teams in competition last Thursday to advance to the finals. Yet, they didn’t go on the floor waving any white towels of surrender.
If it hadn’t been for some missed lay-ups and a last-second turnover, this boisterous basketball bunch might have made it four-for-four when it came to Muskie teams qualifying for finals.
The senior boys’ hoopsters turned away a pesky Dryden squad in a spine-tingling overtime in their semi-final showdown, then tried to ride the shoulders of a red-hot Cullan McGinnis and a wounded Kevin Gemmell all the way to the NorWOSSA crown.
But fatigue and a talented Kenora squad deemed it was not to be.
And as for saving the best for last, I will sooner be entering the 2004 U.S. presidential race than I will ever see another volleyball set to rival the fourth game of the senior girls’ final between the Muskies and Eagles.
Fort High had lost two-straight sets, and were down 8-2 in the fourth. It was over, finished, done.
And then it wasn’t. Here came the Muskies, the three-time defending champs, showing the will to win that made them that way.
Suddenly, Kate Elliott and Allison Hyatt were crushing every perfect set by Christina Romaniuk. Suddenly, Tricia Smith found her serving stroke—by forsaking her overhand delivery, which had caused her no end of trouble in the match, for an underhand one in a display of both nobility and wisdom.
Suddenly, the defence was making plays. Suddenly, the Eagles were in a world of trouble.
At 24-24, and despite lungs that had to be screaming and hearts that had to be pounding after almost four full sets of expended energy, the two teams somehow reached another level.
Tip plays. Kill shots. Service aces. The odd net violations, but otherwise, virtually no mistakes. Almost every point the product of a brilliant effort by one side or the other.
The volume of the crowd filling the bleachers—one side wearing Dryden colours, the other a sea of black-and-gold supporters—roared their approval. They knew they were witnessing something special.
When Smith’s last-ditch kill attempt was stuffed by the Dryden defence for a 37-35 win, the vote among those on hand was unanimous. The crowd stood as one, and bellowed its appreciation.
It was the least they could do. For, truly, there were no losers in this battle.
It was a fine show of heart by all four Fort High teams. There’s no question—the Muskie legacy got a little bit stronger last Thursday.
• • •
A correction, and some congratulations, are in order.
Madeleine Lindberg, mother of Fort Frances native Chris Lindberg, called to inform me I had slipped up in my coverage of her son’s participation in the recent Swiss Cup in Basel, Switzerland.
Having seen Chris’ name on Team Canada’s roster for the event and not having found his name in the scoring summaries, I assumed (a cardinal sin in this job) that he had gone pointless in the three games played by our national squad.
In fact, Chris was only on the roster as an emergency substitute, which turned out to be good as he had other, more important business to attend to—the birth of his new son!
Chris’ wife, Anita, delivered little Cooper Christopher Lindberg two weeks ago, and I wish the Lindberg family all the best.
But the proud papa won’t have much time to relish the moment. He’s already rejoined his HC Ajoie squad immediately to help with their march through the Swiss ‘B’ League playoffs.
No rest for the weary.
• • •
It will be a meeting of the past and present this Saturday as the east end rink here will be the site of a skating party reunion, beginning at 1 p.m.
All past and present residents of the East End neighbourhood are invited to gather for a day of family fun, including skating, a spirited game of shinny hockey (bring your sticks), and a healthy dose of nostalgia.
There also are tentative plans for a potluck supper to follow.
For more information, contact Bob (274-8540), Donna (274-7046), or Nadine (274-2802 or 2745-6252).
• • •
For those feeling the need for speed, the Canadian Kitty Cat snowmobile racing championships are scheduled for this Saturday (March 1) at the ice oval track on Sand Bay in front of Rusty Myers Flying Services Ltd.
About 50 racers aged four-12—from Fort Frances, Emo, and Bear’s Pass, and as far away as Wisconsin and North Dakota—will battle bumper-to-bumper in 10 different classes during the second stop of the three-race Roetin Cup series.
Admission is free, with racing action running all day starting at 9 a.m. Spectator parking will be permitted on the ice, with access to the parking area at the Rusty Myers landing.
If you are planning any sporting events, or have some sports-related information or scores, feel free to call me at 274-5373 ext. 237 or by e-mail at jpayeur@fortfrances.com
All statistical and story information, with the exception of events held Monday night or Tuesday, must be received no later than 5 p.m. on Monday to be eligible for publication in that week’s edition of the Times.

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