HALL OF FAME
Give us a brief overview of what life looks like for you nowadays?
My life is full of changes these days.
On the professional front, I officially retired from 29 years of teaching in June of 2019; but I did not do a very good job of retiring as I was back teaching full time in December. I intend to keep working, in one form or another, for a few more years … or until someone chooses to give a large retirement gift. Any takers?
My family life is also changing. My wife, Evelin, and I are doing our best to adjust to children who aren’t so young anymore. In September 2020, Jasmine will be starting grade 12 and Mitch will be in his second year of Mechanical Engineering. With sports on a COVID-hiatus and both kids driving, Evelin and my relationship, responsibilities and activities with the kids have changed a lot. We are all discovering new qualities and aspects of ourselves.
How did you first get into your current career track/profession?
This story has a great handball connection.
I started my postsecondary education in Engineering at the University of Alberta. One time when I was committing more time to training and playing Handball for Team Canada, I took a break from full time studies. It was then that I got a job introducing handball to schools. My job was to would teach handball at some rural schools northwest of Edmonton. I would teach for an entire unit for one or two weeks before moving to the next school. I absolutely loved the teaching and coaching environment.
It was then that I made some big changes to my life path; I switched faculties, I transferred to another university and I moved to a new city. That laid the foundations to my Bachelor of Education at the University of Calgary and subsequently my teaching career in Calgary. During that time in my life, I also co-instructed a University of Calgary course on Handball and was also one of the authors of a publication called, The Olympics and You. (I’ll date myself with this – The Olympics and You was an educational tool for introducing the Olympics as part of the buildup before the Calgary Olympics in 1988.)
Are you still involved with the handball community and in touch with your handball teammates?
I coach … a lot. In the past few years, I have coached junior high handball in the spring and in our youth leagues in the fall. Last season I coached the Calgary u16-Girls and u19-Boys teams. I also coached high school handball. At first, in the 80’s, in Edmonton and West of Edmonton and then later in Calgary for over 25 seasons. Until 2018 I also coached the Alberta u18 Elite Mens team. Many of my most unforgettable coaching memories come from our training and travels with the Alberta Team. I have had the remarkable opportunity to coach in 7 countries on 4 continents.
I still play handball, so yes, I still do keep in touch with my teammates. My teammates from the late 70’s and 80’s are a bit harder to keep up with but I do with some of them too. I must admit, I see many of them more at parties and gatherings than on the court.
What was your favourite Competition that you competed in for Alberta and Canada?
My favourite moment with Alberta was winning the National Championships in 1998. By then, I had been playing handball for so many years and never anything better than silver. Besides all the family support, I remember a group of high school players who drove from Calgary to Edmonton to watch and cheer us on. Another great National Championship moment was when Calgary hosted in 2005. We hosted teams from Montreal, Quebec City, Winnipeg, Regina, Vancouver, Edmonton, Calgary and maybe even Toronto. The competition was so good, that no team won all their games and almost all teams beat teams which ended up higher in the standings but lost to teams lower.
I had three distinct experiences with Team Canada as I retired twice, only to come back and play again. (Apparently, I have issues with retiring.) The Pan Am Championships to qualify for the 1984 Los Angeles Olympics was my first experience on the Big Stage … and I was a starting player with Canada. USA was automatically qualified as host; Cuba was a powerhouse with their Eastern European and Russian connections. Brazil and Canada were longshot contenders for the only qualifying spot for the Olympics. After losing to Cuba we beat Brazil to claim the runner up position. (This may have been the last time Canada beat Brazil in Men’s competition.)
Following that championship there was an amazing rollercoaster of emotions because my dream of playing in the Olympics was not yet dashed. Country after country signed on with the Eastern Block Boycott of the Games. For the longest time Cuba did not back the boycott but eventually they did. Yeah! We qualified for the Olympics! Sadly, for various political reasons, Canada did not send a Handball Team … Olympic Dreams Squashed!
Nothing can compare to the amazing atmosphere of the ’87 Pan Am Games in Indianapolis. Playing in the Hoosier Dome, once in front of thousands of fans, is something I will never forget. While Canada’s result was not as good, losing to Brazil for the Bronze Medal, the experience changed the way I perceived and responded for the rest of my life.
Do you feel like you apply any parts of your Handball values in your current life?
It seems that handball as been rolling along beside me through every part of my life. In my childhood, I went to my Dad’s games. I couldn’t wait for halftime so that the other kids and I could get our 5 minutes of glory. In my teens and twenties most of my friends played handball and my incredibly close relationship with my Dad was, in large part, due to him being my coach. My career as a math teacher has always had coaching handball as a sidekick. My kids play. Their friends play. I even met Evelin, my wife, during a vacation which I took directly from an international handball competition. We’ve travelled the world chasing that little 400g ball.
Some of the greatest values and traits I’ve transferred from the handball court to my life include understanding the importance and ability to lead as well as the equally important skill of being able to follow. My competitive spirit carried me through many aspects of my life, but I am starting to understand that there are times when I need to turn that down a bit. One of the greatest lessons I learned, first in handball and then applied to life, is to focus more on ‘Performing your best’ rather than ‘Winning’. As odd as it sounds, ‘a win’ is often easier than ‘a best performance.’ The other great aspect of that mindset is the following: When there is a winner there is at least one loser, but best performances can be shared by many.
Live well! Live Big!