Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Role Models In The Sports World Still Exist!

This article first appeared in the February 2011 edition of Main Street and is reprinted here with permission from the editors. Drop by Main Street Week News to have a look at a great community newspaper.

One of my goals as a sports columnist is to shine the spotlight back on the good people and the role models in the sports world. To celebrate the 10th Anniversary of Main Street, in this month’s column I would like to share a few stories about some of the wonderful athletes I have encountered through my work at Main Street, The Voice of Sport and The Hockey Writers.

I started my writing career three years ago and one of the first people I interviewed was Lachute native Kevin Lowe. A six-time Stanley Cup champion, he was my idol growing up and I conducted many imaginary interviews with him when I was 10 years old. When I started with Main Street, I said to Jack, “I am going to get an interview with Kevin Lowe.” I was not sure how, but I was certainly going to try. I sent an email to the Edmonton Oilers and much to my surprise, Kevin wrote back saying he would love to do an interview. We have spoken several times for Main Street and he always finds time for our hometown newspaper; he is certainly one of the good guys.

Another Main Street supporter is baseball pitcher and best-selling author Dirk Hayhurst. Very active on Twitter as The Garfoose, Dirk appealed to his friends and fans to donate to the relief effort when the earthquake struck Haiti. To encourage more donations, he personally called anyone that contributed $50 or more and thanked them. Dirk and his fans also raised money for the relief effort in Pakistan after flooding devastated much of that country. It is not a story that you see in the sports pages, but we should! My conversations with Dirk are always enlightening, inspirational, and entertaining interviews; it is an absolute pleasure to speak with him.
AHL Veteran Bryan Helmer
(Steven Christy)
Hockey player Bryan Helmer has been featured in my columns here at Main Street - Bryan has played in 146 NHL games and he is approaching 1,000 games in the AHL. He too was willing to speak with an “up and coming” sports writer and over the past few years we have become friends. Last year, Bryan’s team won the Calder Cup in the AHL and I asked if I could drop by to take a picture of him when he had the Cup. Expecting a public event, I was in full reporter-mode, but when I arrived, I discovered that I had been invited to the Helmer family dinner. A simple act, but Bryan knew how much it would mean to me to help him celebrate his victory and I now have a cherished memory that will last a lifetime.

In a recent interview with Calgary Flames legend Lanny McDonald for my “Ask the Alumni” series at The Hockey Writers, I asked if there was a charity he was involved with I could help promote in our article - he went on to name over 20 charities. McDonald retired from the NHL in 1989, and yet he is still very active in the hockey community; he is the perfect example of the phrase role model. As Kevin Lowe told me in our first conversation, “If I can lend my name or appear at an event to help others, why wouldn’t I do it?”

It is becoming increasingly difficult to find the good news in the sports pages; scandals and controversy are good for business - a good story about someone lending a helping hand does not sell as well. I have discovered from my own experiences, there are still role models in the sports world - they do exist and we should celebrate them! Have a great sports day everyone.

Image Resource: Steven Christy Photography

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