Before we recognize where we are, and where we're going, I think it’s important to remember where we came from. Here’s my mini thanks.
Shout out to 2 coaches; from humble beginnings to lasting legacies.
My first club volleyball team was the Victoria Titans, where I played for 6 years under the tutelage of Brian McKinnon. He provided me with the opportunity to be a part of a wonderful team/community in my younger years, and helped me develop into a top player in the province, and the country. He went above and beyond to provide training, organize travel, and ALWAYS made sure I was taken care of whether it be rides, curing an upset stomach, or cracking a joke to make me smile. (And boosting my ego when I would spike a little too hard into the face of another girl)
Since I’ve been home I’ve had the chance to get back into the gym with Brian, this time not as his player, but as his equal and a coach. I have the utmost respect for him for providing countless opportunities for girls volleyball in Victoria, building teams into strong young women on and off the court. What I can appreciate more with age and maturity is not only his dedication and love for the sport, but how he treats everyone involved (athletes, coaches, refs, parents) with honour and dignity. Those coaches are one in a million, and deserve more than a simple thanks.
This weekend I went to Vancouver to visit a different coach, but on the ferry I ran into Brian and his team that I had worked with for a few practices. They were travelling to the Junior girls high school Provincial championships. It brought me back to my younger years spending early mornings on the ferry, playing card games with the team, just to get to Harry Jerome for a full day of volleyball. It was inspiring to see that 15 years later nothing has changed, and he is continuing to develop these young women as capable athletes and respectable well mannered women. (and that he never stopped knocking on wood because he is beyond superstitious).
His Junior girls team Reynolds Secondary made history as they qualified for Provincials for the first time, and finished with a school best 9th place out of 32 teams.
He says he's retiring this year (I've heard that one before), so I would just like to say thank you for everything you did for me then and continue to do for me now. You've had a tremendous impact on the volleyball community in Victoria, and I'm forever grateful for your love of the game, helping me to find mine.
Friday I watched my first game at UBC since graduating in 2013. It was my first time back on campus, which looks borderline unrecognizable. I played at UBC from 2008-2013 so the last group of freshmen I played with are now the seniors of the team. What? I swear I'm not that old, but I have a feeling I'll keep saying that for a few years until I come to terms with it.
It ended up being a weekend full of reunions. I went to Vancouver with Dannie Richards whom I played my 5 years with, and we stayed at another teammate, Brina Derksen-Bergen's house. The 3 of us were roommates for 2 years and it was if no time had passed. We spent time with Lisa (Bearclaw) Barclay and her kittens, caught up with alumni Begum Pulas, Kirsty Setterlund, Kristine Johnson, and Katie Crawford during the weekend. All have since joined the alumni club since my departure, leading amazing lives in what they do. Finally, I spent time talking with old coaches and mentors and leave Vancouver feeling grateful for all of the wonderful souls who have been a part of my life.
Cue Douglas Reimer.
Doug has not lost his step, nor his quirk. He welcomed us with a smile and cautioned for no hugs because he had a cold, I think he forgot that we weren't the ones playing the games, and jokingly asked if I had any eligibility remaining. He proceeded to eat his lunch hastily less than 45 minutes before the game then went onto the court to hit some balls for defence warm up. It was 100% classic Douglas. And I felt I was back in those familiar Thunderbird days.
BY THE NUMBERS
Stats often define players in wins and losses. Coaches are less known for the numbers, but Doug's stats during his 20 seasons with UBC are nothing short of spectacular:
Overall record: 387-116 (.769)
Conference record: 300-80 (.789)
Canada West Champions: 2006, ‘09, '10, '11, '13, '14
CIS Champions: 2008, ‘09, '10, '11, '12, '13
Canada West Coach of the Year: 2006, '10
CIS Coach of the Year: 2006, '10
But what makes him a remarkable coach is his ability to awkwardly show you how much he cares about your development in athletics, in academics, and in your life. Doug breeds excellence in his players evidenced by the 6 National Championships run. He is tactical, he starts meaningful conversations and he wears two different shoes to practice or shows up to Halloween practice with smarties attached to his pants (Smarty pants). More importantly he develops incredible athletes and brings those with strong characters into a system of success, building a very unique 'family'.
Doug was the coach that believed in me from the start, that challenged me to be better, and helped me through my struggles outside the court. He was there during some of the biggest moments in my career, and laughed with me through the moments I talked about throwing up during speeches. Then he taught me to be prepared for the next one so I didn't make that mistake again.
So another thank you to a coach that will go down as one of the best coaches, if not the best in CIS and Canadian volleyball history. Thank you for your knowledge, thank you for your wisdom and thank you for always reminding me to get comfortable being uncomfortable.
Give your coach a hug today.
And coaches continue to be phenomenal people in the growth and development of our athletes in Canada!
It is always about more than sport.