This wasn’t part of the plan that mom envisioned for her only boy. No way that mom wanted me to be a sportswriter, of all things.
The way Mizica Prpich-Filipovic-Russon saw it, I would breeze through five years of secondary school at Sir James Dunn Collegiate before heading off to the University of Windsor and then returning home, degree in hand, to land a nice quiet job at the Sault Ste. Marie public library.
Well, five years of planned schooling at the venerable Dunn turned into six and a half years of frolic and fun before esteemed vice principal John Fleming finally had enough and — with the help of English teachers John Stortini and Jack Casey — pointed me (or should I say, kicked me) in the direction of Sault College.
Unsure of what to “study” at Sault College, I turned to Stortini, who suggested I take up journalism, given that he thought I was a “pretty good writer.” Casey endorsed the idea, so rather than take up space in the library at the University of Windsor, Sault College it was.
After journalism at Sault College and between English Literature classes at Algoma University — mom begged me to stay in school — it was off to a sports media career that began at CKCY Radio in 1975 and has since spanned 42 more years (and counting) at Sault This Week and now, HockeyNewsNorth.com.
All this while, writing has remained a passion and it has stayed in my blood. In fact, I think it makes my blood flow and God willing, I hope it continues for a few more decades as really, I would have no problem retiring at age 85.
At any rate, I may be getting older but I don’t feel old. I drink a few beers — mostly Mill St. Organic and Coors Light — but I eat fairly good and I walk a lot.
I also write a lot, for both the Sault This Week and HockeyNewsNorth.com. And I still do some radio work, for ESPN 1400.
Any while I do not feel old, there are a few signs relative to the fact that I have been around for a while.
When I first started in the media, in 1975, Craig Hartsburg was a 16-year old, rookie defenseman for the Soo Greyhounds of the Ontario Hockey League.
But after a lengthy career as a star National Hockey League player and as a coach in the NHL and the OHL, Hartsburg is now retired. Not only that, his son, Chris, is now coaching in the OHL. Not only that, Hartsburg is a grandfather and his daughter, Katie, is married to a former OHL player with the Windsor Spitfires who I wrote about often, Craig Kennedy.
So, if any one in the game of hockey can make me feel a tad old, it is Hartsburg and his clan.
There are other signs of gradual aging that remind me that it has been 45 years since I graced the hallowed halls of Sir James Dunn as a long-haired kid who preferred afternoons in the beverage rooms of the Caswell or the Vic to the Economics and Geography classes of Messrs. Kinghorn and Annett.
For one, I need to wear glasses to read and to type. And the long hair that has been trimmed short now sports a few sprinkles of grey.
I still watch a lot of local hockey in Sault Ste. Marie, be it tyke, atom major, minor midget, major midget, junior A and major junior. And after I am done watching it — and sipping on a few “occasional” beers — I get to write about it.
Really, it’s a dream job that I hope I never have to wake up from.
And while mom wanted me to either be a librarian or an English teacher and while I would have been happy to keep on working as a bartender at the old Windsor Hotel, this writing gig has turned out okay.
To be sure, there are the signs of aging. Like when I see a guy like Hartsburg or Toots Kovacs, who I have also been following around and writing about as a player and coach and father since 1975.
But age is just a number.
And the higher you can count, the luckier you are.