…and what it taught me about failed relationships and the glamourous world of sports
I haven’t blogged in years…so long in fact, that I can’t actually remember the last time I collected my thoughts in writing. Life has a way of keeping us preoccupied and how often we overlook the basics – those little things that inspire us and give us a true sense of satisfaction.
But today I heard a story that resinated with me, and I feel compelled to share it.
I was given the opportunity to co-host a show this morning from a soup kitchen in Kelowna. My co-host and I helped to prepare a daily lunch and prep for upcoming Thanksgiving Dinner. This location feeds on average, 150 homeless or in-need individuals daily.
As I spoke to one of the kitchen coordinators off camera, he shared a personal story with me.
Prior to working at the soup kitchen, this gentleman had owned his own restaurant. As it turned out, a well-to-do tradesmen that had done work on his establishment ended up injuring himself on the job. Details aside, the tradesman could not afford the costs of his health care and slowly had his property seized. In time he also became depressed.
These two men that had previously done business at the restaurant ended up crossing paths again – as all things in life eventually come full circle – this time though, they connected at the soup kitchen when the one-time tradesman came in for a meal served by the ex-restaurant owner. A man that had once earned nearly three figures annually, through a turn of fate, could now not afford to feed himself.
I listened to this story of highs and lows and bit my lip to keep from tearing up. On my drive home, I still couldn’t shake the emotions I felt not only from this story, but from the entire experience and my interaction with others at the kitchen.
Just yesterday I was sulking over my own “hardships” – my rusted truck, the half furnished suite I just moved into, and the fact I couldn’t afford the brand name boots I wanted. I shook my fist at the universe when my feelings were hurt by a thoughtless boy and I took pity on myself.
We always think “our” problems are the worst, but this shit pales in comparison to what I saw today. How fortunate am I to have my health, a roof over my head, and enough food to keep my belly full. How selfish of me to pout over my lack of enviable materialistic possessions, or an incompatible mate.
I felt the need to share this simple, yet heartfelt story, because I know I’m not the only one who sometimes takes things for granted. Working in the world of sports I am exposed to people who make more money in one year than I’ll ever see in my lifetime. It’s glamourous, and of course we all want to reap the rewards when our hard work pays off, but it is easy to get tied up in it all.
Today was a reality check – in life and in love – to not take anything for granted.
by Tieja MacLaughlin
Mention Wilfrid Laurier Athletics to anyone familiar with Ontario University Athletics, and you can be sure the name Gary Jeffries will come up.
Coach Jeff’s legacy at Laurier dates back to the 70’s, when he suited up as a player on WLU’s football squad. After his playing career Gary remained with the Hawks as a coach. Following stops with both the men’s and women’s basketball teams, he landed back with the football program. A tenure which would last over three decades.
I myself have been privileged to cover Coach Jeff’s Golden Hawks for the past four years as a sideline reporter. More importantly, I’ve come to know the kind of heart and soul individual that Gary is.
Some of my fondest memories at Laurier include Coach. He welcomed me – a young, inexperienced reporter with little football experience – in and taught me some amazing things about the game I’m sure even the most seasoned reporter would relish in.
I always likened Coach Jeff to one of those mob bosses in gangster films – the infamous father figure that protects his family at all costs. If you’re a member of the Golden Hawk family, you know Coach Jeff has your back. He demands your very best – your utmost commitment and respect; in return you get to call yourself a member of the family, learning the wisdom of the best and working towards a shot at greatness.
I remember one particular visit with friends to Southampton, a beautiful spot on the water where Coach spends the off-season. The small town has a single pub downtown where they all know Gary by name. By the end of our visit one evening, the entire crowd had broke out in a rendition of Country Roads – Laurier’s signature football anthem. It’s those kinds of moments you can spend years trying to recreate.
Many people often forget Coach Jeff spent time with the Detroit Tigers. To look at all of the old sports memorabilia and hear stories always fascinates me. Gary has a wealth of knowledge, which I’m sure I’ll still continue to pick his brain about long after he’s retired.
For your bear hugs, your spirit and your legacy, I thank you Coach Jeff.