BY IAN THORPE
’Tis the week before Christmas, and all through the town,
Athletes are resting and leagues are shut down.
But sports fans are watching their doorstep with care,
Knowing the Bulletin soon will be there…
For 40 years now, my gift at this time
Has been holiday greetings in form of a rhyme.
My goal is to offer a thank you of sorts,
Acknowledging people from numerous sports.
Like last year my poem is shorter this year;
But sports are restarting – vaccine did appear!
So in spite of pandemic I’ll give it a stab,
While wearing a mask, and getting a jab!
My poetry talent is quite close to nil;
Let’s hope that this effort won’t make people ill.
But COVID or not, my rhyme won’t be axed,
And hopefully readers are all double-vaxxed!
Hockey is back, with kids on the ice;
Knight, Cook, and Long will agree that it’s nice.
Junior B Bucs have seen coaches on move;
Ollech as owner wants wins to improve.
Junior A Clippers are off to strong start;
For Naylor as coach, they play with great heart.
O’Brien helps Donaldson lead the attack;
Protecting our net is the veteran Black!
But the future’s uncertain, Mussio will tell;
As owner of Clippers, he’s willing to sell.
At NHL level, Nanaimo’s Coghlan was slick;
As rookie with Knights, he scored a hat trick!
Now out on the pitch, where soccer teams stand,
Coates and Fitzgerald have things well in hand.
Teams of all ages form United FC;
Cameron blows whistle as head referee!
Dunlop, De Wet, get youngsters to run;
With Richardson, Taylor, soccer is fun.
But men’s team United was sorry to hear,
That Jackson Cup playoffs were cancelled this year.
After missing a season, Mariners soccer returned;
Stefanek, Lindo, saw victories earned.
VIU women took bronze at B.C.s;
For men at provincials, a silver did please.
To football we pass, where players were back;
Fraser and Currie got Seahawks on track.
Juniors had Bishop for coaching so true;
Undefeated this season, and won Islands too!
Football at high schools had welcome return;
From Stevenson brothers, players did learn.
For Bulldogs from Barsby, with Cadieux and Lyle,
Subway Bowl title gave reason to smile!
Raiders came back after missing a year,
So Vizza, LaBerge, were ready to cheer.
Playing under lights, the team did contend,
But loss in the semis brought playoffs to end.
This fall in recovery saw rugby re-form;
At Pioneer Park, the Hornets do swarm;
Coaching is Marshall, right on the spot,
With Fowler as well, and president Scott.
Of lacrosse this past year there is little to say;
No games for the youngsters caused Terris dismay.
Bremner and Bowman had no cause to cheer,
With senior A cancelled for second straight year.
But junior A T-Men got taste of their sport;
They got on the floor, though season was short.
With captain McAdams and coaching from Pynn,
Playoffs for Island saw championship win!
Now turning to summer, when weather was nice,
Slo-pitch for adults saw Hunt give advice.
With guidelines in place minor softball could play,
Poystila and Cornborough will happily say.
Baseball was back, so kids got a thrill;
Teams on the diamond were led by Madill.
Mid-Island Pirates, as Dornan could tell,
Faced COVID restrictions, and heat dome as well!
Mariners prep team achieved some renown;
Provincials had Goodall coach players to crown.
West Coast League season was cancelled this year,
But Serauxmen next spring will see NightOwls appear!
Pandemic was challenge for sports on a court;
For reasons of safety, some had to abort.
But now they’re returning, competing with care,
Hoping to dodge the new Omicron scare!
Basketball’s back, as many would wish;
Brar teaches skills so that youngsters can swish.
VIU coaches are Kuzminski and Bryce;
To Mariners players they give good advice!
Owen and Epp will say volleyball’s grand;
Densmore will advocate playing on sand!
VIU players are now back in stride;
Men’s coach is Avender; women’s is Hyde.
Orton and Nelson with high schoolers work,
With Dancy and Webb, Synott and Kirk.
Libbus and Phillips led Christian School noise;
Best on the Island for girls and for boys!
Chase and pro Yung, for tennis are keen;
In badminton rallies can Walker be seen.
Pickleball numbers continue to grow,
As Edgar, Davis, and Evans can show.
To alleys with pins, now quickly we roll;
Brittain at Brechin at five-pins will bowl.
And bowling on lawn, now Tester is seen;
With Phillips and Dawkin at Bowen Park green!
Golf club has Stephen as manager new;
Harper and Hrabowych strike the ball true.
Local club tourneys were cancelled once more,
But as juvenile champion, Wilson did soar!
MacDonald and Walker are players with skill;
Plenty of birdies give Symbaluk thrill;
With natural talent is my wife who is Ruth;
I struggle for bogeys, and that is the truth!
Now into the pool, where swimmers did well;
Riptides with van den Berg, Morch can excel;
Coaches like Irwin and Flood were all smiles;
De Pol earned a position at Olympic trials!
White Rapids in summer weren’t wearing a frown;
Palmer saw club win a championship crown.
And though the pandemic caused pool time to shrink,
Diamonds with Barberie still swam in sync!
Paddling returned, with safety in place;
Rowe could watch Letwin and Yao in a race.
Rutherford’s rowers were back as before,
But dragonboat races were cancelled once more.
When water is frozen, there’s curling on ice;
With Whittam and Weinreich, Konyer and Rice.
For leadership, Palynchuk rated award;
Gale-Seixero at club is now head of the board.
Gymnastics with White went to virtual mode,
Where Wright at provincials a gold medal showed.
Welbourne and Conway can tumble at will;
Harbo and Brenner showed trampoline skill!
Boxers saw Richardson go extra round;
Training pro wrestlers, Laredo is found;
For Olsen, Biernacki, jiu-jitsu was sweet;
Returning to action saw Top Team compete.
Weightlifter Cameron gold medals could show;
Katzberg set record with huge hammer throw;
Vellner at CrossFit gave all he was worth,
Finishing second as ‘fittest on Earth!’
Wiltsey at Wastelands led motocross race;
Weme as youngster set bike-riding pace.
As promoter of cycling, McCaffery hails;
Wacker saw mountain bike club building trails.
Some races were cancelled, but runners kept fit;
Bastion Club members like Bonin showed grit.
Cross country resumed, so racers could zoom,
Like Putz and Gillette, O’Hara and Croome.
As meets were allowed, track club could start;
Heisterman, Katzberg, did coaching impart.
Vannini and Lundman at provincials shone bright;
Paris in high jump did soar to great height!
To parks and rec staff, I must raise a cheer,
As guidelines kept changing in challenging year.
Maintaining most programs took planning astute,
So credit to Wark, Harding and Groot.
For all who run sports, this year has been tough;
Of COVID restrictions, we’ve had quite enough.
But things are improving, so just stay the course;
‘Be kind, be calm, and be safe,’ I endorse!
Now greetings to people whose business is sport;
They cover the games, and scores they report.
Restrictions for sports led to decrease in news,
But Major and Marshall give radio views.
And here at the Bulletin, covering his beat,
Sakaki does sports from his editor’s seat.
Gathering stories and facts with great care,
He meets every deadline with moments to spare!
And now to conclude this holiday rhyme,
A couple of themes I’ll review at this time:
Fitness can act as a booster, I swear –
So try to keep active – while still taking care!
In life as in sport, one rule is the same:
Always play fair, whatever the game.
And try to remember that when you compete,
Be humble in winning, show grace in defeat.
Give it your best, whatever you do,
But always show class – good sportsmanship too;
And now I’ll exclaim to all readers in sight:
Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!
Ian Thorpe’s Thorpe Report sports column appears monthly in the Nanaimo News Bulletin. This is his 40th annual sports-themed Christmas poem.