Giving it His All

Sean has just completed his first season in the Richmond Ball Hockey Association and what a successful season it was! His team, the Raiders, came out of the Richmond league with just one loss all season and proceeded on to the provincial championships last weekend. There, they met some extremely tough competition, as all of the opponents seemed to be bigger, faster, and certainly more aggressive. When the smoke had cleared, Sean’s team finished in 4th place…a great accomplishment especially in considering that there were 46 teams in his age group province wide (only 8 teams were at the provincials).

I’m extremely proud of Sean, as the league was for players his age and a year older. He was certainly one of the most noticeable players out there, as all of our road hockey games in front of our house came in handy. Despite facing tough opponents, Sean always gave it his all. He let everything hang out (figuratively, not literally). And he gave 100%. Not 110% or 200%, which are physically impossible (I’m not sure why people insist on saying things like that), but his full 100%.

I actually rode Sean pretty hard this season. I admittedly expect a lot from him, whether it’s academically, athletically, socially, or spiritually. I’m getting better at catching myself, seeing that he’s only 8 years old and he’s probably already accomplished more than his old man (he’s definitely got more potential to succeed than his old man). However, there were a couple of times during games this year when Gail has remarked to me that I was a “tough hockey Dad.” Then I would start crying for being admonished.

One thing I bugged Sean about was his foot speed, or lack thereof. I would often joke that he looked like he was playing with a 25 pound weight hanging around his neck. He would counter that it was better than having 25 pounds hanging around his gut. But what he lacked in speed he more than made up for it with skill and more importantly, heart.

His exceptional effort reminded me of his track meet at Minoru back in May. Not fast enough to make any of the sprint teams, Sean entered the Softball Throw and the 400 meters. Knowing the Imoo boys’ penchant for avoiding any semblance of long distance running (I get winded going up 3 flights of stairs at work), I went into damage control mode even before he had raced. I wasn’t too confident, and admittedly neither was he.

“Don’t worry Sean, just do your best. I’ll be proud of you no matter what.”

“I just hope I don’t come in last.”

“Well just picture a big plate of beef sashimi waiting for you at the finish line.” Now there’s motivation for you!

The gun sounded and by the first turn, Sean was 4th to last. By the 200 meter mark, he had slipped to 2nd to last. As they rounded the 3rd corner, I could see Sean constantly looking over his left shoulder, making sure that he wouldn’t be caught.

“Forget about him!” I screamed from my sideline position down the home stretch. “Catch some people in front of you.”

Then, something happened. Faster than Jake falls asleep at Mass, Sean exploded into the final turn, his cheeks expanding and contracting with every large, quick breath. Arms pumping and eyes bulging, he blew past 11 or 12 other runners during the final 100 meters, with his fanatical father screaming from the sidelines. I was extremely impressed and surprised, as Sean’s final placing was around 27th out of 40…about 12 spots better than we both anticipated.

I quickly ran to the finish line immediately after the race to congratulate Sean but I couldn’t find him amongst the other runners. A few moments later, I spotted him hunched over just a few meters away from where he crossed the finish line. I gave him a hug and told him how proud I was.

“Way to go son!” I exclaimed as I eagerly anticipated his response. Something magnificent. Something profound. Something epic.

“Thanks Dad….I almost threw up.”

Well I guess I’ll settle for honesty. At least he gave it his all!