22 May 2013

Prairie Gold

It's not every day that I can come back from an accidental hiatus and report that my kid is a National Champion again.

That's right: he's a two-timer. So are most of the boys on his team. And I couldn't be more proud of them.

This photo was snapped right after my kid scored the winning point in an incredibly tough three-set match between Pakmen (our club, based out of Mississauga) and the Canucks of Calgary. And what a game it was! We were on the edge of our seats from the first whistle and after a tough loss in the first set, during which Canuck jersey #4 dished out blistering jump serve after blistering jump serve, Pakmen rallied to take the lead in the second set.

But it was the third set that set the game apart. After beating the boys to the mid-point*, the Pakmen boys dug deep to a level of focus, clarity and responsiveness that carried them to victory. An AH-MAZING rally that had players popping passes off single forearms, scrambling to dig unexpected dump balls, leaping around the sport court chasing down the pass and power hitting to all corners of the court received a well-deserved standing ovation from the crowd.

(*for volleyball newbies, it goes like this: the first two sets are scored to 25. The third set is to 15, and at the halfway mark -- whichever team reaches 8 points first -- the teams switch sides of the court, so no one has undue advantage. Best two of three sets wins.)

My eyes started to well up then, because at that point the outcome of the game didn't matter. That one rally was worth the price of admission, of flying out, of staying in a new city, of eating and sleeping at odd hours, of early wake-ups and late bedtimes. That one rally -- where the boys put out everything they had onto the court and into their teammates, and just PLAYED -- was worth the whole season. That was it. The point didn't matter.

But as it turned out, the point was ours. It was the TSN turning point: there was no going back.

From then on the Canucks, who dug every serve and pushed and pushed and pushed our guys, never scored another point. After that rally, the momentum swung in Pakmen's favour and the boys rode the wave eight straight points to gold medal victory. Despite time-outs to ice the server, and some questions on the calls, the Pakmen boys never wavered, never broke focus. Their intensity and teamwork took them all the way to the top: GOLD.

National Champions. Again.

And for the record, this is what happened to the engagement ring of a self-proclaimed "Super Fan" who banged on the arena glass like a houligan after the BIG WIN.

Not the best photo, but you get the idea: B-U-S-T-E-D.

Congrats to all the Pakmen players and Coaches who made such an amazing season possible.

photo credits to Regina Leader-Post | Michael Bell, photographer