Who is your mentor when it comes to sports and why?
Canada is full of inspiring athletes. And when it comes to Triathlon we have many to motivate us, Simon Whitfield, Lauren Groves, and the like. In our own back yards we have Ray Zahab, Rick Hellard, Dev Paul, Rudy Hollywood and so many more. There are so many inspiring people I train with on a regular basis for many different reasons like, Leslie, Ryan, Chris and Zoe, Andrew, and Hazel, George, Barry, Heather and many others. Then there are my regular training partners, Steph, Yves and Sean and Martine who’s stories and passion inspire and encourage me. Even people I barely know in this sport inspire me with encouragement and support, and example.
But who is my mentor?
As a kid I was very fortunate to have parents who supported my desire to play sports. My earliest sport related memories take me back to North Bay where as an army brat I played soccer and baseball and the beloved game of hockey on an outdoor rink (now I am dating myself). Hockey was a passion that would last well into my teens where my parents would take me to game after game across the countryside in Western Quebec. I played for Shawville, a town where you either played or watched, and sometimes I was playing goal for as many as 3 different teams. Even to this day my parents continue to encourage and support me including the most recent challenge of cheering all day or at least for 12 hours 13 minutes and 12 seconds in the absolute pouring rain in Lake Placid.
My dad is my mentor in so many ways, one of which is in sports.
Dad was and still is athletic, good at almost anything he tried. Always the first one to jump up and organize a group into playing something, anything at all. As a young boy, dad moved to Whitehorse and as the story goes, kids met the plane and the first words they said to my dad was can you play hockey? Well that year he did, and wore his mother’s white skates non the less. The following year he was the captain of the team. I cherish the many newspaper clippings I have about my father playing hockey and would frequently read these. My grandpa used to tell me Dad would have made the NHL. Not sure which part of the legend to believe but it was either falling off a roof or dating girls that ended that path. While in the military dad played baseball and preferred being the catcher so he was always in the action, and also some organized hockey, not to mention ping pong, tennis and badminton. This past Christmas I finally managed to beat him at some ping pong, tisk tisk. But after several games he got his groove back and kicked my butt.
Dad was like my grandfather, who at one point trained with the Canadian Olympic team until going to war. Perhaps that is a part of why my father is my mentor. Sports is a bit of a tradition in my family. There is not much I have done that dad hasn’t already tried. Heck, when I was still a teenager my dad was making his own classic ski trails into the Gatineau park from Luskville. I have some great memories of doing that as a family.
Not only could he play sports but he could coach as well. And that is an art, to be good at it and to make others feel good about their own achievements. I loved having my dad behind the bench. I owe my love of sports, including 20 years of coaching hockey, to my parents, and especially my dad, my mentor.
What I haven’t told about was the kind of athlete my dad is. What probably made him so good at whatever it was he took part in–and that is HEART. Not only athletic, but this guy has the passion to take sports to a whole new level. As I write this I am chuckling at recalling how he ran down a birdie out of bounds at his 50’th wedding anniversary and did about three cartwheels, …BTW he did return the darn bird. He always played hard and never quit. If someone took the puck from him, he would fight hard to get it back. Like all the great hockey players, Dad would play hurt whether it was a twisted knee or a broken foot, there was nothing stopping him. He was driven by a LOVE to PLAY!
I am still inspired by my dad, Albert John Roffey. For 5 years now in triathlon, my parents have been cheering me on. And finally I have influenced him to try out my obsession, triathlon. On July 7th at Meech Lake, he did the 6.4 km run as part of a relay team with myself and my son. And like most it seems he got hooked. :) A few weeks ago he pointed out that I had a spare bike in my garage and wondered if he could “try it out”. Now he is doing 10 km rides a few times each week. And if that is not enough, last week he challenged my girlfriend to do the complete Mike Collingwood Tri next summer. I can hardly wait to show him the parc.
73 years young and still Loves to play!
p.s. If I want my mountain bike back I need to find a bike my dad can use so I am looking for a gently used hybrid , good for an occasional loop in the parc but mostly flat riding in North Gower. Let me know if you might have something appropriate. Email me if you have a used bike for sale. Dad is 5’ 8” and probably 190 lbs.