It doesn’t take long for a decade to go by when you’re having fun in the Nickel City.
I’ve been cursed at. I’ve been hugged tightly. I’ve been given gifts and thank-you cards. I’ve seen people at their worst and best, and sometimes both. I’ve seen local athletes and teams win big and lose big. It’s been inspiring experiencing and sharing those high and low moments with amazing Sudbury people.
There aren’t words to fully explain how fortunate I’ve been to cover sports in Greater Sudbury for the past 10 years. I am a motivated, inspired and encouraged person because of the people of the Nickel City. Your stories, your passions, your adventures and causes, your characters, your dreams — everything that makes you all remarkable in one way or another have impacted me and made me a believer.
I’ve also worked with stellar people in the trenches and behind the scenes. Their influence has been undeniable and I would be a pompous ass if I didn’t acknowledge they also played a big role in making me who I am.
I was fortunate to cover and experience many dramatic moments over the years. Some of my favourites are seeing Alex Baumann running downtown during the Olympic Torch Relay on a blistery January day; the Sudbury Nickel Capital Wolves winning the 2008 Telus Cup; the 2010 Ontario Summer Games coming to the city and putting on a memorable show; fighting the Hanson Brothers at centre ice at Sudbury Arena, and not going down; the Macdonald Cartier girls soccer team winning their first OFSAA gold medal in Valley East; seeing Megan Ayotte, a teenager with cerebral palsy, participate in a flag football game; and the Sudbury Wolves’ 2007 run to the OHL final. Those moments, and many, many more have dealt me such enthusiastic delight.
I have always gotten a huge boost from talking to athletes, regardless of sport or level. I felt any athlete, accomplishing anything, was big news for our community. I have always prided myself on my persistence and loyalty to trying to provide coverage for every sport going in the Nickel City. I can look back on thousands of stories, photographs and videos and feel a sense of accomplishment, knowing I stuck to my standards.
There hasn’t always been cheerful moments. There have been painful, downright agonizing moments. Sport isn’t immune from life. Tragedy and death have also been part of the experience. This city has lost some great people and young athletes during my decade.
The single biggest moment I’ve experienced involving the Sudbury sports scene was the night I interviewed Conrad Houle in November 2009 after the senior girls’ city basketball championship between Notre-Dame and Lockerby. Emotions were high. Just days earlier, Houle had lost his granddaughter and Notre-Dame student athlete, Emily Houle, along with her father (Conrad’s son), his wife and Emily’s boyfriend in a plane crash.
Conrad spoke with no quiver in his voice. He spoke with energy, strength and purpose. It was pure resolve. I had nothing but respect and appreciation for Conrad. Here was a man who had essentially lost about all a person could lose in one tragic accident, but wouldn’t let the sorrow overwhelm him.
It was inspiring to me. To be truthful, I was doing everything I could not to break down. It is an experience I take with me every day. It lets me know no matter how bad things can get, the strength is inside me, inside all of us, to persevere.
I’ve been fortunate to meet a lot of great people, people I have come to count on for everything I need to write stories and take photos. Coaches, teachers, managers, athletes, parents who have bent over backwards to help me get stories done and out there for people to read. Many of these people have become really good friends.
I’ve been invited into homes across the city to talk to athletes while their parents made me a sandwich or insisted I take a glass of water or juice. Those times are special and mean the most. When you can be accepted into another person’s home and be treated like a member of that family, in my opinion, there is no better feeling in this industry.
I live to be inspired. I write and take photographs to be inspired. The local sports scene and the people involved have given me a lot to be inspired by. It has been a humbling experience. It has been a hell of a ride.
Cheers to all things sports in Greater Sudbury. I can’t wait to see what the next 10 years brings.
Scott Haddow has been writing about sports in Greater Sudbury for the past 10 years.