Ice Chips & Canoe Quips


Black Belt, well deserved!

Congratulations to Little Current Current’s Paul Zilio who was awarded an honorary Shodan Black belt. In a private, socially distanced ceremony last week, Shihan Dan Fletcher (Manitoulin School of Martial Arts, MSMA) related that anyone can achieve the coveted black belt, it just takes hard work and time. Paul, a paramedic and dedicated to working hard is also battling cancer. Keep up the battle, Paul.

The larger benefit of sport is summed up well in a recent post on the M.S.M.A. Facebook page, “Understand that a dojo is more than just a place to workout. It is a community and social support system.”

Caught exercising!

Perhaps one thing people missed about our recent “stay at home” directive is that exercise is one of those things that we are allowed to get outside and participate in! Now, it could be that one little excuse we sometimes use that causes us to watch “just one more show” on our device. I try to ‘catch’ people being active outside if I can, but being a bit of a shut-in myself, it is difficult. Luckily, I was able to witness on many occasions the whole Symons clan of Big Lake going for family walks. Mom and Dad (Megan and Don) and their quartet (Oliver, Delilah, Everest and Harmony) and I can’t forget their trusty dog, Porter. Additional kudos must go out to Delilah, Megan and Porter for also getting their running legs and lungs in shape. Great show guys. If anybody can help me catch those inspirational individuals, by all means drop me a quick note at: Thanks.

From the desk of Dad!

As a coach of many sports I have had the pleasure of meeting many fine athletes, people and characters. There are these characters from every community of course, some of who may have appeared here before. 

The number of funny guys is vast but some are, Mindemoya’s Derek “Deke” Cranston, Gore Bay’s Lucas Little, M’Chigeeng’s Bert Panamick, Manitowaning’s Mark Killens, Aundek Omni Kaning’s Scott Madahbee and Brian Corbiere.

A Little Current discussion deserves Dale Harper. He gave me, his teammates and the fans many entertaining escapades in our travels. He is especially well known in Port Huron, Michigan where his travel stories are legendary. In the day, the receiving teams used to billet the incoming hockey players. Since virtually no one there had any idea of where Manitoulin Island was, Dale spun them many a tale about the far north, dog sleds, snow machines, trains, winter tires, etc. These stories were soon being passed around by the fans. Needless to say myself and the other coaches had to clarify many a question.

A character from Wiikwemkoong was Eddie George who was as quick with a smile as his swear words. Eddie was a talented athlete, overall. He excelled at school sports and at hockey but his forte was running. He could fly like the wind around the track or in a road race but his specialty was cross-country running. His incredible stamina, fleet feet and slight frame allowed him to dodge rocks and roots but not always elbows! 

One indelibly etched movie from my memory was at the start line of the Sudbury cross-country championships back when Wasse Abin Pontiac School was invited. The start line was all mud and the huge throng was jockeying for a fair position before the gun went off. When it went off, Eddie didn’t. He got in only two steps before he was knocked down and ground into the mud. I clearly remember seeing a muddy footprint on his jersey before he sadly but angrily looked back at me wondering what to do. All, I could do was yell, “go!” I didn’t know if he had a chance but I certainly didn’t need a grumpy, wet and muddy, Eddie with me, waiting for his teammates to finish.

Go, he did! Once he started, all I could see was the back, slow-pokes of the field and he was way, dead last. He closed that distance quickly though with what I’m sure was sheer anger, but how would he do against the speediest of Sudbury’s runners? I made my way over to the finishing chute area, however, to see just how many of them he could pick off. As the race drew to an end the Wiky fans started screaming and as legend would have it, around the corner came a muddy and slightly less furious Eddie in the lead. 

When I was able to find the little guy in the crowd, I asked him how he did it. The exact words could not be printed here of course but to paraphrase Eddie: “there was no way I was going to let those ‘fellow athletes’ get away with doing that to me!” Oh, characters, it was never dull with you around!

A good sport is good for sports