I have my doubts that the late, great June Callwood's name ever appeared in the sports pages. Then again, her influence on life in general was so pervasive I wouldn't be shocked if it had.
We all lost Saint June on the weekend to the ravages of cancer, and it is a living testament to her memory that if you knew her at all, as I did a little through my friendship with her brave and brilliant husband, the writer Trent Frayne, that people just assumed her death would have a profound impact on you and quickly sent emails and made phone calls.
I'm pretty sure she liked hockey some, if not a lot. But on a personal level, it was somehow symbolic that we received news of her loss on a weekend when hundreds of girls and young women were competing in Brampton, Mississauga and Vaughan as part of the Ontario Women's Hockey Association provincial championships. Even a decade ago, the championships weren't of the size and quality they are now, yet another sign that women's sports are growing in our province and our country.
A peewee team from Seaforth, Ont., Boyd Devereaux's home town, made the weekend for me. After losing a semifinal Sunday morning in quadruple overtime to North Bay, the Seaforth squad claimed a bronze medal in the late afternoon by winning in the FIFTH overtime against West Northumberland.
And plucky Seaforth did it with only 10 skaters the entire day. Incredible.
Joyful teams from Whitby, Leaside, Hamilton, Cambridge, Windsor, Niagara Falls, Walkerton, Kincardine, Belleville, Ottawa and Thunder Bay all won provincial championships, as did a midget team from tiny Ancaster, Ont with which I have to admit a personal bias since it included my 16-year-old daughter. Their team won in overtime over a well-coached and gritty team from Hamilton that was marvellously classy in accepting their silver medals.
What does any of this have to do with Saint June? Only that the growth of women's sports in general and women's hockey in particular are expressions of all the elements of life she held dear, including fairness, equality, determination, unwillingness to bend and the utter joy found in the pursuit of a life's passion. Hopefully her namesake, my one-year-old daughter, will carry those qualities forward in her life.
And hopefully June won't mind too much that we've now mentioned her name in the sports pages.