Word of Mouth

Matt Molloy
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Young girls bring right attitude

The female hockey program in Botwood certainly has a reason to be proud, and if you see a group of girls walking the streets wearing Botwood Blades garb, expect to see them strutting with a confident swagger.

The under-12, under-15, and under-20 Blades each won gold medals at their respective provincial hockey tournaments this year, making it a hat trick of banners for the girls. Winning one would have been a fantastic feat for the program. Winning two would have been amazing, but winning three? I’m no expert in the field of female hockey in the province, but one program winning three provincial banners in the same year can’t be something that’s done consistently.

I had the privilege of speaking with members of all three teams, who tried to put into words what it meant to win their respective banners. Of course, that was nearly impossible.

What was easy, however, especially for members of the under-12 Blades, was talking about their experiences that had nothing to do with winning medals.

It was quite interesting, especially considering a few of them were first-year hockey players. The only time they talked about their medal win was when I asked them about it, and when I wasn’t asking about their medal, they told stories about meeting friends at the hotel they stayed at, the fact someone lost a mouth guard in the middle of an on-ice celebration, the 80s party they attended, and about the knitted hats the entire team — coaches included — made famous. They told me the story of how those knitted hats came to be, and nearly laughed themselves off the chair when talking about how the coaches and dads at the tournament ended up wearing them.

Sometimes, a sports story goes beyond who scored the goals and who recorded the most points. Sometimes, the sports side of a hockey story is secondary. I truly believe this was one of those times.

I’ve since deleted the interview I did with members of the under-12 team, but more often than not, the girls spoke all at once when telling me about a certain story or incident, and all you could hear was four or five voices, plus the laughter of the parents and coaches and this sports reporter that just couldn’t hold it in.

It was, in all honesty, the true essence of minor sports.

I was never the best athlete, not even close to be honest with you, so my minor hockey memories came from road trips and provincials. None of my memories are of specific games and moments in those games, but back in my day, we stayed with billet families. I remember almost being late for a provincial game because we lost our billet’s dog. I remember staying with a family in Bonavista that didn’t have cable television or a shower, who tried to give us sour milk during a 7 a.m. breakfast (we didn’t play until that afternoon). That same billet family also blamed us for stealing towels.

After speaking with the under-12 girls, I started thinking about my minor hockey days and how my stories were similar to theirs. The only difference is they have a provincial gold medal to talk about, and I believe I have a provincial bronze stashed away somewhere.

In a world of competitive sports, and in a world where athletes use performance enhancing drugs to get that upper hand and try to bend the rules to get an advantage, it’s always refreshing to talk to athletes who want to talk about their experiences and not about the medal.

It seemed to me the under-12 girls would have been just as happy to come home with provincial silver, just as long as they got to their 80s party and just as long as they came back with the famed knitted hats.

To them, the stories of the tournament came first, and the medal came second.

So, after hearing about and watching the video clip of New York Yankees pitcher Michael Pineda and his blatant, disgusting disregard for the rules (and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, I highly suggest you YouTube his name), it’s good to know there are minor athletes out there who play the sport for the fun of it.

It’s good to know we don’t have to paint all athletes with the same pine tar brush (again, watch the video).

matthew.molloy@advertisernl.ca

Twitter: @TiserSports

Organizations: New York Yankees

Geographic location: Bonavista

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