Thursday, May 15, 2014

Year End Basketball Extravaganza

After all the hard work the kids (and Eric!) put into the Basketball program throughout the year, everyone looks forward to a night of games, pizza, prizes...and more basketball. 

This year, in addition to the normal series of game stations and dinner, Eric organized an exhibition game between his Police & Fire team and the UBC Thunderbirds. It was an excellent opportunity for the kids, who have been training all year, to see what great high-level basketball is all about up close. 

Eric introduced the team and told the kids a bit about the background of each player. His intention was to encourage the kids to keep working and to understand that there are lots of opportunities in Vancouver for an ambitious player to continue on in basketball. 

Eric had no idea how many kids/parents would want to stick around to watch, but the turnout was impressive (it probably didn't hurt that there were two dozen giant men walking through the club...they generated some interest in the hallways for sure!).

Everyone was transfixed. The quality of the games was impressive. There were a couple of dunks, an alley-oop and lots to keep the oohs and aahs coming from the crowd.

I also thought is was really cute that every time Eric scored, a huge roar erupted from the kids gathered...they might have been surprised to see that Coach Eric could play! They played small games up to 18 points and Eric hit the first game winner...the gym went nuts. And the kids learned that age and wisdom can prevail over youth!

I am so proud of what Eric has been able to create with Split Second Basketball. He has fostered the development of a real basketball community at the club, where none existed before he started the program. There were nearly 60 kids and more than 40 parents out for a great evening...and none of it would be possible without Eric's vision and commitment to bring value and quality to everything he does.

Oh, and he still plays pretty damn well for a 40 year old...just ask the Thunderbirds who tried to guard him!

Make Hay (or time for a picnic) while the Sun is Shining

We have had some phenomenal weather this May. When a beautiful, sunny Wednesday appeared, we decided to ditch Finny's track and field practice in favour of a picnic on the North Shore and a bit of an exploration of Lighthouse Park (which we have always wanted to check out, but haven't gotten the chance). With our friend Drazen here from Croatia for less than a week more, we wanted to show him  the city on such a gorgeous evening. Eric took him up Cypress first and then met us for dinner. 

I grabbed some food and we hit Whytecliff Park. Eric managed to find the single most dangerous picnic spot on the West Coast of Canada. We had to scramble up onto rocks, with sheer cliffs down to the ocean below. 

I may be a neurotic loser, but I was having heart palpitations as the kids clambered around and explored. Dinner didn't sit too well until we were back on a less death-defying level of ground. Crazy mother, right? I know. 

Can you see the fear on my face?

We wrapped up and headed to Lighthouse Park for a late evening hike. 

I am pretty sure flip flops were a poor choice of footwear. You don't see too many mountain goats wearing flip flops...for good reason.

Namaste, Finny!
Molly was even brave enough to dip her toes in the ocean.

Vancouver is always beautiful to me (maybe it's because I came here from Ontario). But on evenings like this, it truly sparkles. Also, it is a nice treat to see it through the eyes of a visitor. Drazen has rapidly fallen in love with Vancouver and touring him around allows the rug of complacency to drop from our eyes. Vancouver, you are a stunner.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Our little mutant...

Don't worry...I am not calling Lukey names. He really was a Mutant last weekend, playing for the Mutants in a spring hockey tournament out at UBC. He has been doing the development class with the Mutants on Saturday out at the Richmond Ice Centre. We decided to put him into one tournament and chose the one at UBC instead of driving to Langley or Mission.

It was a Friday/Saturday/Sunday tournament, but I was surprised when the schedule came out and the first game was Friday morning at 8 o'clock. Apparently school isn't much of a factor. 

Here is Lukey as we were heading out at 7 a.m. on Friday morning:

Eric was working, so I had to take this little guy out to get him all dressed and then head back to our place to get the girls up and to school...then back out to UBC to get him off the ice after the first game. I missed the first game, obviously...but also missed his only goal of the tournament. Bummer. His team (Orange) won their first game 7-1. Then we had a short break before the next game at 11:15. We grabbed a smoothie and a muffin, then back to it.

Dog pile on the lucky winning goalie after win #2:

The group of boys on Lukey's team was fantastic. He didn't know a single kid on the roster and even though most of those kids knew each other, they were really open to Lukey. It was an incredibly positive experience.

Here's the boys playing in the locker room before a game:

Saturday had only one game in the afternoon, but Sunday had a 7:15 (!!!) start. We left home at 6:05. I sent Eric the picture below to prove we were in the locker room at 6:28. Talking to the other parents, I realized we have led a VERY sheltered hockey experience. That was our earliest start a lot. The other parents thought that was hilarious. There was one (extraordinarily talented) kid there who practices at 6 a.m. four mornings a week!

Lukey has played significantly less hockey than most of these kids...and he was the youngest on the team (it was open to 2005 and 2006 kids...he is born at the end of 2006), but they never made him feel anything other than great about his contributions. The coaches on the bench were encouraging and positive, without fail.

Team Orange went undefeated for the whole tournament (five games). They won the final and were the weekend's champions. Lukey was thrilled!

Here they are lined up for their trophies:

 A pep talk from the bench:

Our little Mutant:

Team Orange:

Thursday, May 1, 2014

Start of Track and Field Season 2014

Exactly one year ago, Finny went to her first track and field meet. It was out at the track at UBC and it was essentially a monsoon for the entire two days. It wasn't the smoothest introduction to the sport, but Finny took to it like a duck to water (ha, get it? It was wet that weekend...). Since then, she has trained hard and she's really excited to embark on her second season of track and field with the Vancouver Thunderbirds. 

At least this weekend we didn't have to contemplate escape routes from rising water...! It wasn't exactly warm, but it was dry.

The girls picked up right where they'd left off last year: flopping around like overactive puppies, all long limbs, track spikes and blond hair.

Finny's first event was the 60m hurdles. She isn't a super confident sprinter, but she has the long legs and spring required for getting over those hurdles. Consequently, she does pretty well compared to some of her shorter legged and more gravity prone competitors.

She gets her game face on...I could tell she was nervous, so it was good to get her first event done. Her time was 13.33, second in her heat and lucky 13th out of 48 girls. Not a personal best, but a good effort.

Her next event was long jump (somehow "jump" just autocorrected to "hum"...that would be a funny event...long hum!). It took over two hours (!) to get through all 50 girls. It was more of an exercise in patience than athleticism. She had her best ever jump...3.07m. Good enough for 7th overall.

Next up, 1000m. We have discovered that if there is dirt under Finny's feet, she does better than on track. Still, a great race and she placed 6th out of 18.

One of the greatest benefits of track, though, is the great friends Finny has made with the girls her age. They are mostly named Sophie (or a variation on Sophie). I am not kidding.

After the 4 X 100m relay (and a 3rd place finish), it was home for a rest. Up early the next morning for high jump.

...and shot put. She matched her personal best in high jump and threw almost a metre over her PB in shot put...throwing 5.13m for 4th place. She doesn't look the type to  excel in shot put, but she has a killer shuffle step and she channels her inner beast. We all know it's in there...

It was a great start to track season. Not only do I really enjoy watching Finny, I value the days I get to spend with her during the weekends she competes. We have long, uninterrupted talks. We stop for food and chat. They are our days. So, here's to a whole season still to come of boring blog posts, but wonderful weekends of Finny time.