Sports for a Lifetime

  • A selfie of Leif on his bike. Leif Gregersen

It all began for me 35 years ago, in my grade two class. A friend passed me a note just before recess. It said, “Meet us in the big field at recess. We are going to play football!” That first day I scored two touchdowns, and for the next four years my friends and I would play our game without pads, with a foam rubber ball, in just about any weather we could, at every chance possible. I was hooked from the very start.

Back in elementary school I loved to play sports. I was on basketball teams, volleyball teams, the list was endless. Then, when I was a bit older, I told my mom I didn’t want to be in Boy Scouts anymore and she signed me up for soccer. Soccer gave me so much, not just a way to exhaust myself in endless rounds of fun, but it gave me friendships that lasted. It gave me glory in that our team made it all the way to the top of the St. Albert round robin of teams.

The next year after soccer ended, I joined up with our local Air Cadet Squadron and we were constantly playing sports and pushing ourselves physically. It seemed you weren’t cool if you didn’t lift weights and so I got my brother to teach me all he could about the sport. In school, I took part in the Canada Fitness Challenge and ended up with the Award of Excellence two years in a row which gave me the right to wear a Canada Fitness badge on my Cadet uniform. I couldn’t have been prouder. When I look back now, I can almost pinpoint where I stopped being a boy and was nearing becoming a man. I was starting to grow not just taller, but my chest was getting too big for the cadet uniform I had originally been issued when I joined.

In my last year of high school, I started to regret that I had stopped participating in sports when I left Cadets at the start of my grade 11 year. I realized that I really had fun playing sports and that it was much more about making friends and keeping yourself in tip top shape than it was about wanting to prove you are better than someone else. I quit smoking that year, started jogging, and went further into weight lifting. It was one of the best years of my life.

Now, many years later, I have what I think is one of the best jobs a person can have. I set up stages for major concerts and I work with a great bunch of people and get to see all the big shows that come to town. The job is extremely physical though, and if it weren’t for my regular workouts and swimming I would have never been able to cope. In that way, my love of sports has really taken care of me. Being in shape means I feel I can do anything.

In recent years, I have started a new sport: long distance walking. My knees are getting too old to take the pounding of a lot of jogging but I still need a way to get out, enjoy nature, and build up my endurance as much as I can. I also turned this hobby into another one, which gives me the great company of my dad as we go to parks to walk and take pictures of birds. I hope it is a sport that I will be able to do for many years to come.

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