APPLE SEEDS: The mystery of the locker room
When Belleville hosted the World Floorball Championship for Women Under 19, InQuinte and our radio affiliates were media sponsors. We helped market the event, and shared with our readers and our listeners exciting coverage of the games, including photos and audio clips.
Floorball. I didn’t know the rules and had never seen a game. But I was going to be there, cheering on our girls as often as I could.I am not what you call ‘sporty’. As a kid, I was active, for sure. With my sisters and our neighbours, we would spend hours exploring, skating, playing ball, bike riding. But being active and being athletic are two very different things.
I never felt like an athlete, and as a result, I never participated in organized team sports. And I never felt like I missed anything.
I could be wrong.
Leading up to the championship event, I had many opportunities to watch and listen to Coach Todd Crawford, Brett Davis and some of the players, especially Hannah Wilson. They were excited, and I was happy for them. It was sure to be a great event.
I knew that, because I was involved in a similar situation. In 2002, Belleville hosted the Men’s Provincial Play-downs for Curling, with the Ontario winner moving into the National competition known as “The Brier”. As you can expect, many volunteers were required. I was (and still am) a curler and my hand went up. (Yes, active, not athletic, although today’s elite curlers are true athletes in every sense, I am not one of those elite) The memories from that week will stay with me always, so I knew that the experience was going to be unforgettable for the volunteers and the athletes.
The first game I was able to watch was Canada against Thailand. As I settled in, I noted the rather short side boards that were not boards at all, and barely reached knee height. The floor was padded, the sticks seemed light, and it seemed like there was hardly any weight to the ‘whiffle’ ball. Sitting upstairs, the game seemed quiet – more like baseball than hockey (in noise, not speed).
The time clock counted down, and goal after goal was scored. It was a great game to watch. But it was as the Thai girls bowed respect to our Canadian team after a game well played, the scope of what our home town was experiencing became clear.
Teams from 15 countries, people with different cultures, speaking in different languages are all here for one reason… To compete. Yes, they are enjoying our region’s bounty, but at the end of the day, they are here to play, and they want to win.
The desire to win, is something I understand. It’s a family trait. I recall cribbage games with my father, and we earned our wins, no matter how young we were. That underlying competitive nature rears its head in most things I do, sometimes to my detriment.
I eagerly anticipated the game against Germany, which “they” said was the one to watch. Our early lead didn’t last, and the Germans dominated. You could feel the frustration as the girls filed into the locker room after the 2nd period buzzer, down by 2.
And then, something happened. I don’t know what it was, but I wanted to know.
Third period started, and the change was visible. The energy and determination crackled through the arena. The Canadians, many local with family and friends in the stands, burned through defensive lines with the crowd cheering through the brilliant breakaways and amazing saves.
With just over a minute left, and a snappy wrist shot, we witnessed the winning goal. To use an old phrase “the crowd went wild”. Euphoria abounded.
What happened in that locker room to facilitate the change? What does a coach say to a bunch of teenage girls, dejected and tired? What inspires a team to rally?
Never give up – Never surrender. Great battle cry, but when you’re down – easier said than done.
Great coaching is stuff movies are made out of. Coach Carter who started to teach inner-city kids basketball, and watched as boys became men. The best football movies have some of the most memorable coaches - “We are Marshall” – the coach healed not only a team, but a town.
Back to the fact that I am not very ‘sporty’ and having never had a ‘coach’ per say – those inspirational speeches given on the big screen was the limit of my experience.
I know, at times, you have to dig deep and find ways to perform when the chips are down. There are times when you put your game face on, and just do it - in sports, in work and in life.
But during those times, for me, inspiration and motivation was self-induced. My pep talk was given by me - talking to myself (which I do all of the time).
‘Crow’ (Coach Crawford’s pet name I have been told) gave those girls something they will never forget. A sense of belonging, of pride, of knowing that, as a team, they will not go down without a fight.
Or at least – I think he did.
What I know is that they took me with them on their journey to victory.
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