The End of an Era

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My old high school shut down this week.  Yup, weeks before the new term began, its doors were closed for good, severing a connection that, for me, was almost universally positive – not something everyone says about their old school.  And not something I would have said about any other school.

I started at Concordia after, let’s say, underachieving at my previous high school.  Although I was somewhat apprehensive about attending a small, private, Lutheran high school, I was also looking forward to it.  For one, it was in a beautiful location, perched on the North Saskatchewan River Valley like a stately home in a Merchant and Ivory film.  But, more to the point, it was a fresh start, new friends, new teachers, new girls – not that I was particularly successful on that front.

And, ultimately, it was a terrific couple of years, as good as could be reasonably expected for an unconfident, fairly shy teenaged boy with absolutely no idea about what to do next in his life.  I played sports, made friends – including teachers, who genuinely seemed to enjoy being there – went on trips (including an infamous one with Lakeland College, which could have served for one of those slightly smutty teen comedies from the 80s) and, wonder of wonders, learned something.  Later, I coached basketball and saw myself in many of my players.  Slightly awkward, not particularly good at the game, but willing to give it a go.

It was a hard place to leave.  I even went to the affiliated college for a year before going to university.  Before I left for the UK, one of the last things I did was cycle past, having one last look.  And, I suppose, it was the last look.  To be honest, I haven’t thought much about Concordia in the last few years.  I read the newsletters and kept in touch with a few friends, but that has been about it.   Now, I wish I had done a bit more.  Stayed in closer contact.  Not that it would have mattered much, but it would have been good just the same.  An old friend is gone.

The Girl in Red and White

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As I am writing this, Canada’s women’s football/soccer team is about to defeat Great Britain and find itself in an Olympic semi-final against the dreaded USA.  Now, I am rooting for Canada generally in these Olympics for obvious reasons, but also because the UK is doing so well (and it is actually a UK team – including Northern Ireland – not a GB team) and Canada has seen better Summer Olympics, along with worse ones, of course.  When we (Canada) were rollicking through the Winter Olympics in Vancouver, in fact, I felt a little embarrassed at our success, and wished the UK well at every opportunity.

The other reason for me rooting for the Canadians is that my sister played soccer for Canada and didn’t get a chance to go to the Olympics, something I regret probably more than she does.  I would have loved to go down to Atlanta or Sydney or Athens and cheer her on, but, sadly, it wasn’t to be.  I did drive down, with my wife, Michelle, and a couple of friends, to San Jose to watch Liz play in the Women’s World Cup (driving through the night and getting there from Edmonton in about 25 hours), but the Olympics, for women’s football at least, is special, the pinnacle of achievement.  So, when I see a player in red and white streaking down the flank or charging down a striker with the sort of speed most men would envy, I think of her.  If only.