Opportunities exist to think differently
I wanted to take a moment to recognize one of the most impactful moments of my life. An early November day from 2004 has stuck with me for over a decade and shaped much of how I approach leadership, growth, youth and most importantly the need for opportunity in building a community.
From 2002-2008 I was fortunate to be a coach with the Vincent Massey Vikings Football team. Under the guidance of my good friend Kevin Grindey, the team would be one of the most successful Manitoba football teams of the decade.
I spent most of that same decade in the employee of the Brandon School Division. My assignment from the division brought me to Vincent Massey High School. During my time at Massey, I worked with students from all walks of life but found my greatest success in working with youth who, at times, found themselves on the wrong side of the law. I observed that those same youth would gravitate to sport as a release, an outlet and most of all a sense of community. Football was often that community.
I first joined the program in 2002 as the teams video technician working to break down game film. I had a history of refereeing football but up until that point had never been a part of a team. My hope was to one day join the coaching ranks of the team but for that season I was content to spend my time in a darkened editing room breaking down every nuance of the game.
The next year, working alongside Kevin’s brother Paul, I would join the coaching ranks at Massey. I would not relinquish the video duties as they were and still are my passion but for the 2003 season I would be “behind the bench” so to speak. The crew we had in 2003 was a good team. Made up of youth from every background. We had newcomers to Canada, youth from affluence, youth dealing with food security and poverty issues and youth who had a troubled past (often including previous involvement in gang activity), in football though they were one team, one unit. Something that has always represented the beauty of the sport for me. In football, all are equal.
The 2003 team would bow out in the final against a very good Neepawa Tigers team. It would be the start of something though that culminated in November of 2004. The Vikings would play the Dauphin Clippers that year. The Clippers were a relative juggernaut of a team, going undefeated throughout the season. In a back and forth affair Vincent Massey would come out on top winning the game 28-24 after a late game interception by Linebacker Geordie Lancaster (pictured above). Geordie is now a psychologist working with youth in the Brandon School Division.
That day and that memory is etched so vividly in my mind and brings me to the crux of my post here today. As a city we are faced with challenges. Our youth deal with a myriad of issues that compromise their ability to succeed, opioid usage is on the rise with every area of the community affected, and access to programming in the community is limited as field and ice time often comes at a premium.
If we are truly to find a better way in our city and help youth cope and move away from the scourge of addiction does the answer lie in opportunity and access to sport, performance, groups and a feeling of connection? As a father of two I hope for those opportunities, I hope for a community that provides good access to recreation because I think there is tremendous benefit that comes from having those opportunities available.
Second of all, I believe in the benefit of a team. City Council, like a coaching staff are a team. They are leaders, there to guide, direct and most importantly listen to what those who place them there need. I view a council in a very similar fashion. There will be times that varying visions can alter an outcome but at the end of the day council should work towards a common goal. A goal that has never been more important than the one that lies before us. What kind of community do we want for our children? That is one of the main reasons I became involved in this race. I want to have an impact on shaping the community our children will inherit.
Much of my vision for this community is rooted in my experiences from that day in 2004. A day where I witnessed leadership, growth, opportunity and most of all the power of our youth to bring great things to this city.
It is time we think differently and it is a time for renewal. Our city is poised for new ideas and like that Vikings team, we must build for the future by being mindful of what lies ahead. I want to be a part of shaping that next step for our city.
There was a mantra the team went by throughout that season that still, to my knowledge, exists on their sidelines today. “The most important play in football is the next play”, I think that rings true here as well, what should our city’s next play be?
I welcome any feedback you may have on this or any other item pertaining to the campaign. To find out more visit CameronforUniversity.ca