Sports community in mourning

To say that it’s been a difficult week for the Fort Frances sporting community would be an understatement.
The community lost two men synonymous with the local sports scene—Thunderhawks and Sight & Sound Wolves player Clayton “Beef” Windigo on June 27 and then Lakers’ assistant coach Bob Mainville on Canada Day.
With the details that are known, it sounds like both deaths could have been easily preventable, and so deepest condolences must go out to the families and friends who bear the brunt of the pain.
Given the status of both men in their respective communities, with Windigo being a former Borderland Thunder player and current member of two top-flight local teams, while Mainville held positions with both the OPP and the Lakers, hopefully some positives can come from these two tragedies.
The first blooms already have begun to appear, with the Sight & Sound Wolves having stepped to the plate to try to raise money for Windigo’s two young children.
It’s critical now to make sure the dependents are taken care of. But the next best thing that could happen is that people take to heart the needless aspects of both situations.
Both Windigo and Mainville were at an age where they probably should have known better than to jump off of a high bridge or to go boating in rough conditions without wearing a life jacket.
But if they didn’t, then who else doesn’t?
It’s almost as though we have to keep our fingers crossed that everyone understands the risky circumstances in both cases, and can make a different choice when faced with similar options.
Our society tends to admire athletes and coaches, and maybe that will add a little bit to any safety message. Both men were young and fit, and may have had an air of invincibility around them because of that.
Sadly, if that myth existed, it’s been busted. But, perhaps, any safety message now will hit home just a little bit more.
• • •
On a personal note, I also want to thank the family, friends, and teammates who spoke to me for both memorial stories in this week’s paper.
It’s been a little shocking for me, and I only knew both Windigo and Mainville in passing, observing them behind the bench or on the ball diamond, with maybe a head nod or “Hey, how are ya doing?” post-game, so I can’t begin to imagine the effect their sudden deaths have had on those left behind.
I realize it’s a difficult spot to be in to receive a phone call and then be asked to rattle off memories of a recently-departed friend. But everyone I spoke with seemed to be handling the situation as best they could considering the circumstances, especially those who were closely shaken by both incidents.
These aren’t stories any reporter wakes up hoping to write, but they both were stories that needed to be told and I certainly needed the input to make sure that happened properly.
So thank you again for trusting me with your memories of both Clayton and Bob as a final send-off.
There are some tough days in this line of work, like in any industry, but many jobs don’t require calling up a grieving friend or family member and asking them to elaborate on their loss.
I only hope the resulting stories were fair depictions of the roles both played in the local sporting community, as well as the big shoes that now must be filled.
• • •
It’s difficult to find an acceptable transition from sadness to something a little lighter, but this sentence will have to do in the pinch.
But with the success (I’ll use that term lightly) of my fishing column in this space a few weeks back, I’ve been inspired to try to write some more such stories in a similar vein.
So here is the call for suggestions. Do you want me to give your sport a legitimate shot (and know someone willing to take me out and give me some pointers, of course)?
If I can write about it, I can do it, and I’m pretty much up for anything.
Naturally, I’m looking for sports I either haven’t tried or at least given a fair shake in the past (cross-country skiing from Grade 10 gym class still comes up negatively). But getting the chance to play an old sport in a new context could be pretty entertaining, as well.
I wouldn’t really say that I’ve ever excelled at any sport, although I have a history in hockey, football, baseball/softball, and rugby.
If you want to see the likely not-very-pretty results of those or any sports, shoot me a line at 274-5373 ext. 236, an e-mail at dfalloon@fortfrances.com, or fire off a “tweet” on Twitter to the account dfalloontimes.

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