I was recently reminded of a golf tournament I
played in way back in August 2000. I was on a team with my son
and two of his friends. Marty Kirwan, Stacy Levac and Todd
Newell had been inseparable friends for many years and needed a
fourth player for their team which was entered in the Annual
‘AAA’ Midget Golf Tournament. Last year they came in 2nd
place by a single stroke and wanted to take a serious run at
winning it this year. We had a practice round prior to the
tournament and even went to the driving range to warm up before
our 11 a.m. tee time on the day of the big event. When we took
our place on the tee to begin our quest for the championship,
little did I realize that I was taking part in one of those
significant life experiences that we all look back upon with
fondness over the ever increasing years of our life.
Hence, the other day I looked back on the moment with
The golf part of the day was remarkable in itself. The three
young men I had the privilege of playing with, each in their
early 20's, executed unbelievable skills throughout the round. I
was the one who was expected to be the stabilizing force on the
team. After all, at almost three times their age, and with a
reputation of being a fairly good golfer, my experience was to
have helped them along. Needless to say, that try as I might, my
drives were short, my chips were off the mark, and my putting
was nowhere near perfect. As a matter of fact, out of the 58
best ball strokes we took, only two of them selected were shots
that I had made, including the drive on the very last hole.
Marty, Todd and Stacy each came through when needed and seemed
to know when it was their turn to hold up the team. They were in
good humour throughout the afternoon and thoroughly enjoyed what
they were doing with an air of confidence that made you feel
like they were destined accomplishing their goal. They even made
an old man like me feel like I was an integral part of the team
and I was delighted to be along for the ride.
We actually won the tournament by three strokes - a
relatively large margin of victory for a scramble event. I doubt
if I will ever witness, let alone be a part of, another
performance as good as the one I saw that afternoon. Long drives
in excess of 300 yards; pin-point accurate chipping, and;
excellent putting were the order of the day. I don’t think I
had a bad day of golf, but I just couldn’t come close to the
standard set by my three partners.
As we mingled among the other 141 golfers in the clubhouse at
the end of the competition, I felt a tremendous sense of pride
at having been part of the winning team. I knew so many of the
participants, having lived in Valley East for 27 years, and it
was a great feeling receiving comments about playing with my son
and his friends.
Nevertheless, even amid the excitement and glory of winning
the tournament, there was also a sense of sadness inside my
heart that was hard for me to explain. I knew that moments such
as I was experiencing that day would be few and far between in
the future unless we do something drastic to prevent our
greatest resource - our children - from being forced to relocate
to the south to find meaningful employment and careers. As I
looked at Marty, Stacy and Todd that evening, I realized that
they will miss so much of the quality of life that exists in
Valley East unless we create a reason for them to stay.
They have since graduated. Marty is now living in Toronto,
where he is running the Southern Ontario office of our marketing
company. He is engaged to be married to a nice young lady,
Christine Woodley. They will not likely ever return to Valley
East. Todd is also living in the Toronto area. It is unlikely
that he will ever return. Marty, Todd and Stacy talk to each
other from time to time, but will they ever have an opportunity
to experience the feelings we shared in August 2000? It makes
that moment even more special as I now look back on it.
To all of the readers who are from my generation, I lay down
the challenge. Let us do something for our children before it is
too late. Let us help create an economically viable community in
which the Marty’s, Stacy’s and Todd’s of tomorrow can grow
up and enjoy a quality of life that is unique to the north. The
Sudbury District can offer our children just as good a future as
Toronto, but we must create the proper environment in which this
can happen. We must take chances and invest our time and money
into new initiatives, and we must do so before it is too late.
Let’s not talk about downsizing anymore. Let’s talk about
expanding and creating wealth upon which dreams can be built.
I am not ready to give up on the future just yet. We have
already lost too many Marty’s, Stacy’s and Todd’s. It is
time for action.
As for special moments, when I had the personal opportunity
to play a round of golf on Father's Day this year - with my
Father and my other two brothers, Frank and Wayne - I realized
that with my Father approaching 80 years of age; and with Wayne
no longer living in the Sudbury District - it was a moment I
couldn't pass up. I now have another memory on which to look.
As you grow older, the memories of the past seem to motivate
you into action with respect to the future. Once again, I lay
down the challenge to those who care so much about the future of
our great community. Look back and see how many cherished
memories you have of moments spent with loved ones in Valley
East. Use those memories to accept the challenge. We have to do
something to create a future where our most valuable resource
will be retained.
Until the next time....