The naked truth about a GFI tradition

On the Ball column, by Craig Lindsay, July 22 Grand Forks Gazette.

The summer can often be seen as a lazy, easy, breezy time of the year. Pretty much everybody takes his or her vacation at some point during July or August. School is out. The kids are relaxing or playing outside. That still happens, right?

Outdoorsy people are doing outdoorsy things like camping, hiking and, while, not fishing in the Kettle because of the river fishing ban, but you get the point.

Summer is also often seen as a slow time for us journalist types. Council only meets once a month; RKDB as well; school board is off; criminals are off enjoying the lake. I can’t confirm that last one but who knows. Sports is also seen as to slow down in the summer months. Obviously, there are no school sports; no hockey; no NHL or NBA or NFL; and so on.

But that doesn’t mean the shelf is completely bare, sports-wise. The Grand Forks International (GFI) Baseball Tournament hit the town with some great ball and good times. I will admit not being the biggest baseball fan but when you get in the stands and the crowd is cheering, it’s a lot of fun.

I went Friday night and was right in the middle of the excitement in the Blue Monster. The heat was oppressive but people found creative ways to cool down. There was also the famous (or infamous) GFI tradition of streakers which reared its head Friday night. Mercifully, the young men were very fast and agile. I still shudder when I hear the story of the one streaker years back who got stuck on the fence as he departed the field. Talk about a squeeze play.

Moving on to hockey, even though KIJHL league action doesn’t start until October, the summer is an important time for teams. The summer is when players are found and developed. The top players will be working hard on hitting the weight room and building muscle as well as improving cardio. For the Border Bruins, and every other team, it’s important to scout and recruit players for the next season. Winning on the ice is always about having talent. There are other factors, but really they don’t matter if you don’t have talent on the ice.

The Bruins have finally found their coach, 33-year-old Emery Olauson. They went all the way to North Carolina to find him. It’s been a long process to find and hire a coach but the team feels it was worth it to find the right person.

Obviously, the Bruins haven’t been the most successful KIJHL franchise. There have been many more losses than wins. The team has also gone through four coaches in the last two years, which doesn’t head with stability. Management believes that this new coach will be the one to come in and get the franchise heading in the right direction.

An object in motion tends to stay in motion and a still object tends to stay still. I don’t know physics but I know it’s tough to turn a team around. It’s hard to bring good, winning players in when a team is known as a perpetual loser. But it’s certainly not impossible. Grand Forks may be somewhat isolated and small, but so are Fernie and Kimberley–two teams that have done very well.

Selkirk College men’s team in Castlegar went from last place with one win to league champions in just one year with a new coach and general manager who were able to bring in some good talent and mold them into winners in short time.

Hopefully, the same can be done here in Grand Forks with the Bruins. At the very least, let’s hope we get a hard-working, competitive team to watch.

Lastly, I’d like to give a shout out to Christina Lake’s James Dergousoff, who recently competed for Canada in swimming at the Pan-American Games in Toronto. James shows how anyone can compete at a very high level even if you’re from a small place. It just takes a lot of hard work, commitment and dedication.

Stay tuned to the Gazette for more Bruins hockey, baseball, swimming and other sports. As always, if you have any story ideas or a submission, email reporter@grandforksgazette.ca.

Look for a feature on new Bruin coach/GM Olauson in next week’s Gazette.