If you've not had the chance to take in a Lions practice in Surrey I'd highly recommend it. My wife and I took in a practice earlier in the week and found it to be most enjoyable.
After the practice we had a chance to talk with Wally, Paris, and Solomon and briefly with Travis. What a classy bunch of fellows. No pretense, not about image, just down to earth genuine gentlemen.
I found Wally to be a very likable pleasant fellow to talk with. He is just as I'd imagined. Wally is a guy would walks the walk, he doesn't just talk the talk. Basically he lives by example and no doubt is a guy who looks for the best in others and tries to give the best he has. He did not have a clue who I was and yet I felt a sense of importance talking with him and yet HE is the head coach of the B.C. Lions, not me! Paris was a great guy to talk with and it was pleasure seeing his face light up as we talked about his young new born son Paris Jr., born this past April.
Solomon was a cool guy to talk to. Here is a guy who is thanking us for showing up to see the team. That was not being said for effect or to impress us. He was genuinely appreciative as were all of the players we spoke with.
If there was anything that impacted me about our visit that afternoon it is that it put things into perspective for me. Yes, as a fan I suppose I feel I have the so called right to say this or that about certain team players and/or coaches. And then I see Travis after the practice taking the time on a hot summer's day to make a guy's day by taking a few passes from him. The young fellow passing Travis the ball is in a wheel chair. Did Travis have to do this? Not at all. Was it to score PR points? Not at all. Travis did it because that is who Travis is!
We can criticize players like Korey Banks because I guess that is part of the business- just like there are those who choose to throw rotten tomatoes at a comic who isn't making anyone laugh. And then I'm reminded that Korey Banks who gives us his best out there no doubt is still struggling having lost his little 3 year old son, Khamari Banks, to cancer a year or so ago.
Anthony Calvillo,QB of the Alouettes is doing a remarkable job despite recovering from thyroid cancer during the past year....despite his wife suffering from cancer herself.
No doubt Coach Harris took his share of criticism in Winnipeg. Sadly, and completely unexpectedly the team suffered a deep and tragic loss with his passing.
Seeing the players and actually having a chance to meet with some of them made things a little more personal for my wife and me. We had a chance to put a face to name. A face that we could see not from the stands through binoculars but a face we could see close up. A face with a personality. A personality that was saying, "Thanks for coming you guys, it means a lot."
My wife and I were really glad we made the trip out to Surrey to watch the guys practice and to talk with some of them.
If you have some time to go and see the players practise, do go. No doubt you'll also have a chance to shake a few hands and shoot the breeze with one or two of the players. I'm sure they'd like that. And it just might give you a whole new perspective on things.