Have to admit, when I first received the tip saying that a high school distance runner was hit - and by a deer - during a provincial championship race, well, I started to scratch whatever hair I have left on my head.
I have heard some bizarre stories in high school sports, but this one seemed to have the potential to be right up at the top with others. I was also wondering if someone was trying to set me up. You know, prank stuff. I thought, how could a runner at an Ontario final - in mid day and with hundreds of athletes and spectators and noise - become the victim of a deer assault?
So, I checked and checked. People either didn't want to talk or shrugged their shoulders. Some coaches and teachers only like "good news" and will only find time for a chat when it pertains to a victory or something they see as promising. Well, your dedicated scribe used his investigative skills to get the facts and, eventually to the young girl - a 14-year old grade 9 student from London, Ont.
Here she is, first year of high school, finished fourth in the Western Ontario qualifier and expecting to do well, maybe win a medal at these Ontario run-offs. Instead, she lands up in hospital with a broken collarbone and now has a sling, likely some pain too. We had a nice discussion. Also spoke with her mother, very concerned when the emergency staff called to say that her daughter was, ah, hit by a deer - in a race. Not the kind of call parents like to get.
Cutting around the corner, midway through a 3,000-metre race and having just climbed an exhausting hill, Emma Ashby had a close encounter with - the deer. It saw her running, must have been spooked, ran at and hit her on the side knocking the runner 10 feet. Emma landed on her shoulder.
I started thinking about my car trip to North Bay last March to the Ontario hockey finals and, well, driving on a highway and seeing these animals dart across the road. Contact can be serious stuff.
The good news is Emma is recovering. She has some stories to tell, and likely for a long time to come. She was actually quite concerned about the deer which, apparently looking at the fallen athlete, then left the scene - also without a medal.
On a side note, we're approaching the Holiday Season and the Jim Proudfoot Corner - part of the Star Santa Claus Fund - is a great way to help needy children.