Ahhh, tourney time in Vat d’Or again, good old VD will be swinging this year due to new talent from the baby boomer babies, fresh new talent galore. Them baby boomers all out cheering for their favourite son or daughter as they take on Eeyou’s finest broom bailers and hockey nuts on the twin ices deep in the heart of the valley of gold. What a rush. This year’s tourney includes a woman’s hockey exhibition game during the opening night. Yahoo, keep it up gals, need more of this kinda action, I say.
Speaking of girls, I remember the good old glory days when I used to be one of the best coaches for the broomball team back home. I clearly remember when the captain walked in and asked me very nicely to be the coach for the upcoming first annual tournament in Amos. I look at the clock, hmmmm, 16:45.
“Sure, why not,” I answer, trying to keep my excitement meter at a minimal. “When?” I ask.
“Right now,” she answers. “You can drive us and we’ll sleep on the way down and you can sleep when we get there. You’ll have your own room. Just show up for practice at 3:30 in the afternoon and the first game at 10:30 at night. You don’t have to worry about food. Everything’s taken care
At four o’clock in the morning we crept in from the north, trying not to wake the sleepy town of Matagami, and checked into a room. I thought I was to drive the girls down, but instead drove the hockey team, who wanted to sit it out in a room instead of in the cramped suburban stuffed to the hilt with hockey gear and cranky hockey players while waiting for the gas station to open at seven.
A quiet knock at the door and somehow, magically, a case of beer materialized. Oh, oh, I think to myself, should have gone on to Paradise Lodge instead. Oh well, it’s another two hours and I’m kinda tired, get some rest, and besides, it’s cold. Two hours later, things get rowdy and it’s time to head off. At Amos, we head off to the hotel, where our rooms were booked months in advance.
“I’m sorry, there are no rooms available,” chirps the hotel receptionist. “But, but, but, they’re supposed to be here, it was all done,” I stammer.
“Look we’ve got money, see,” growls the captain of the famous Hunters. Nope, couldn’t get those damn rooms, no matter how hard we tried. We discovered later that a famous hockey player took up the entire floor.
Utterly depressed, we headed towards the arena, which seemed to be bustling with activity. Say man, we got no rooms.
we explained to our Algonquin brothers. No problem, says our new friend. You can stay at Pikogan. We went to the village where families promptly offered their homes to us and mattresses were brought over by the dozen.
The men can stay in this house and the women can stay there, we were told. I was too tired and excited. It was already near noon and mental and physical fatigue was taking its toll on me. I’ll stay up and sleep after practice, I think to myself. Come practice, I feel confident as I watch our tired team throw themselves around the rink. That’s the spirit, I think. Ok time to go home and sleep.
“Say Man. Long time no see. Where you been?” hollers a good chum from school days. “Have a beer, see I got lots of tickets,” he waves a three foot long temptation of beer tickets in my face. Yeah, sure, why not just a few. Then I’ll be able to sleep easier.
At five thirty, totally shit faced, I caught the eye of a lovely lady. I sidled up to her and leaned on the wall with my arm and deepened my voice, “Say, what’s you…” At that precise moment, I got hit by a rebounding puck square on the forehead. I don’t remember much and in any certain order after that, but I do remember throwing people around looking for that darn puck, totally freaked out from pain. Sadly, the lovely lady never ever talked to me again.
I remember knocking a friend all the way down from the top floor of the arena by whacking him too hard on the back when I greeted him. He was balancing two beers and his crutches, wearing a large cast on his leg. I run down the stairs and he grumbles, adjusting his glasses, miraculously still hanging on to his face.
“You owe me two beer,” he shouts. This happened later that evening. Come game time around ten thirty, a good friend caught up with me and told me that the girls were waiting in the locker room. Already? I work my way down to the locker room area and open the door. Say, who are these fine ladies. I was greeted with a barrage of broom ball sticks and helmets. Get out, they scream, trying to hide while changing. I did some artful dodging, checking out the competition.
I staggered over to the other locker room and was met with looks of concern and horror. Are you Ok, they ask me. Yeah yeah yeah. I’m ok…
“Speech! Give us a speech, coach,” the team cheers.
I hold my arm up with a half hearted clenched fist in the air and yell out, “Girls, We’re gonna WIN!” That’s the last thing I remember before hitting the floor.
Needless to say, I got fired after thirty hours of committed coaching. Things have changed since then, and the tournaments are now slick and well organized, but I never did get asked to coach again.