#BarefootSandTraining to #ImprovePerformance:

I personally have been doing sand training and also using it as a fitness tool for my clients from a variety of sports for years with resounding success. In a few previous blog posts, I have included a few of the drills as part of varied themes.

This will be a blog post dedicated solely to barefoot sand training as a method of improving physical and mental fitness as well as reduce the risk of avoidable soft tissue injuries.

PART 1:

The following pictures feature 2 of my young competitive tennis players training on beach volleyball courts in London, Ontario, Canada.

Photo 1 below shows Cosmina (on the left) and Janelle simulating a forehand volley drill. They alternate from forehand to backhand always returning to the ready position. Each segment lasts for 30 seconds with a 10 second rest times 5 repeats. This helps build fatigue tolerance and body control against the resistance of the soft, thick sand. Note the girls are barefoot – doing so improves the proprioceptive neuromuscular activation from their feet to the whole body.

Photo 2 below shows Cosmina using a drop step to explode from a split step to full acceleration to the backhand side along the baseline. Both girls did this to the forehand side as well – 5 repeats per side times 3 sets with a 30 second rest between sets. This helps build heart and lung capacity and improve recovery between points in a match setting.

Above, the girls simulate a step-out forehand shot. They followed this with a rhythmic zone, sprint zone and drop step zone movement. They repeated this on the backhand side as well…5 repeats with 15 seconds rest between repeats. Working against the resistance of the sand through the 4 key movements improves the girls’ mental toughness and ability to easily get to fast-paced returns.

The first photo below shows Cosmina running from baseline angled to mid-court, simulating an attacking, down-the-line shot off an opponent’s angled drop shot. Both girls did the drill on the forehand and backhand side, backpedaling to mid baseline after each ‘shot’. They had to focus on body position, footwork and explosive push-offs to complete the drill perfectly.

In the second photo, Janelle is driving across the baseline, chasing down an deep angled return. She is loading up from the feet to the arms, essential for generating a powerful ground-stroke off a semi-defensive return. The thickness of the sand makes this a most difficult drill but the girls did 30 second repeats times 10 with a 10 second rest between repeats. The resistance of the sand improves the strength endurance of the whole body – essential for staying sharp during tough, drawn-out matches.

PART 2:

Drills using hurdles and pylons.

In the 2 photos immediately above, the girls are doing an explosive drive step over a series of hurdles positioned at different points on the court. They must sprint with racquet in ready position, simulating a specific shot based on my verbal direction. It takes on average 12 seconds to complete the circuit. The goal was to follow each other through the circuit, moving quickly, precisely and with purpose. Getting over the hurdles requires focus and lower body muscular endurance, important in wearing down an opponent.

The 2 photos immediately above show the girls doing explosive power jump squats from a ready position. I vary the cadence to maximize muscle recruitment and coordination of lower with upper body. The girls’ bodies MUST move fluidly and powerfully to ensure the best impact position no matter what the shot. In sand, this is a most challenging but rewarding drill.

In the photo below, the girls work in a tight triangle inside pylons, alternating between backhand and forehand volleys with their racquet. They do 30-45 second repeats time 7 with 15 second rest breaks between repeats. They will never hit that many volleys in a row during a match BUT by doing so perfectly in practice, the carryover to match play will be more automatic and precise.

After each sand session, I let the girls be girls (after all, they are only 9 and 11 years old!!)…as you can see above, they take full advantage!! Ah, the fun of frolicking in the early fall sand!!

Sand training:

  1. improves foot strength, balance and body symmetry (especially when done barefoot), essential for safe, injury-free movement on-court
  2. builds overall strength endurance to help maintain stroke mechanics throughout tough matches in hot, humid conditions
  3. builds cardiovascular endurance and recovery capacity to handle long points, games and matches with little drop-off in performance
  4. improves mental toughness to persevere when a few unforced errors can easily turn into a match needlessly lost

Even though the above features tennis players, sand training barefoot can be used as an effective training tool by any athlete. Of course, the key is having access to sand!!

See you on the beach!!

coach Jeff

#HillRun #Training the #CoachJeff Way:

Running hills can either break or make the best of runners. I will feature a number of techniques that I use to control hills as opposed to hills controlling you – whether in training or races.

Below is a trail leading up the side of a volcanic mountain on Sao Miguel in the Portugese Azore Islands. Some of my family are hiking this – I did run up a section of it BUT was not remotely fit enough to run to the top. In other words, build your hill run training slowly, gradually increasing the pitch, repetitions, variety of footwork and pace.

Above, one of my young clients does a running high lift drill. I used an 18″ high boulder to simulate the challenge of running up and down a steep hill. He had to do the repeat foot action for 30 seconds with a 3o second rest times 10 repeats. Notice the perfect form – critical for safe, effective development.

In the 7 photos below, a father-daughter client team of mine perform a series of hill drills that I use to develop a variety of physical and mental components for success on running hills. The father is a former Canadian Men’s tennis champion and ATP touring professional. His daughter is an elite ice hockey player who starts a 4 year term at Brown University, an Ivy League school in Rhode Island, USA. She is partially financed by the school (they do not offer full scholarships).

Photo 1 shows them doing a 1-legged backward run (India) and 1-legged side hop uphill (note the minimalist footwear – not quite barefoot!!). These help strengthen the feet, calves, hamstrings and It-Band/hip abductors…all key muscles to support a powerful forward hill running motion. Photo 2 below shows India doing the 1-legged side hop on the opposite leg uphill. Note the slight forward angle – I would rather have her move erect BUT this was her first attempt at the drill.

The photo above shows Hatem (background) and India doing a side-to-side backward run UPHILL. This is exceptionally difficult but effective at improving gluteal activation of the hamstrings, heel kickback for increased foot turnover and extensor chain involvement in the balanced hill running motion.

Below, India (Hatem is mostly cut off from the picture) double leg hops sideways UPHILL. The drill improves foot and ankle strength to help avoid soft tissue hill running injuries. It also teaches you to cushion the knees and hips on impact further decreasing the risk of needless injury. Finally, it strengthens the synergistic running support muscles, making the forward motion on hills much easier.

The 2 photos above show India and Hatem doing a side crossover run uphill on grass and then asphalt. The hip adductor, abductor and gluteal muscles are isolated and overloaded close to fatigue. These are generally weaker muscles that can sabotage strong hill running. Thus, doing the drill repeatedly is highly effective. The photo below shows Hatem and India doing a high knee drive and heel kickback drill sideways downhill. This forces you to land light and forward on the feet with quick, powerful follow-through – key components to controlled hill running.

In the 2 photos below, backward hill running up (photo 1) and down (photo 2 on 1 leg) done barefoot or shod helps strengthen the extensor chain from upper back to lower calf. When you can successfully run a hill up and down backwards (especially on 1 leg!), doing so forward is ALMOST easy!! I normally have my runners do each drill 3-5 times per training session. I recommend you build up to this slowly – these are exceptionally DIFFICULT but EFFECTIVE hill training drills.

Above, a few of my runners are doing hill training in mid-winter preparing to take on the Around The Bay 30 kilometre race. Here, they are doing 1-legged side hops downhill (Rebecca in the foreground) and 1-legged hops forward downhill (Jason in the background) on the Valley of Death hills. Perfecting and repeating this helps prevent needless ankle, knee, hip and back running injuries during the standard up and downhill running motion.

Immediately below, the old coach does a sand dune barefoot uphill drill. Running in sand is challenging enough. Doing it uphill, sideways and crossing over is a monumental challenge. Having said that, it prepares you to handle even the most difficult hills a race will through at you. I always do repeats of the drill until muscle fatigue sets in. Then I know my key running muscles have been fully activated and strengthened. Even though this is one of the most difficult types of training, the benefits will carry over into all aspects of your running.

The coup de gras of barefoot running…forward up the side of a mountain over boulders, rocks and slag…with, of course, your best canine friend (photo above)!!! If you EVER get to this point running barefoot, you know you have MADE IT to the summit.

Put in the perfect practice work on hills and you reap the rewards of actually controlling them!!

coach Jeff

Revisiting The Key Components of #CoachJeff’s #Squat-Scoot:

As technical as the Squat-Scoot method of running in a safe, efficient, powerful manner is, I will keep it SIMPLE. I developed the process decades ago in the hope of eliminating my ongoing issues with what I term ‘avoidable’ soft tissue running injuries (eg. plantar fasciitis, Achilles tendonitis, IT-band syndrome, runners’ knee). Since implementing it over 20 years ago along with running BAREFOOT, of course, I have been injury-free! The photos below highlight a few of my clients and me doing the Squat-Scoot.

This motivated me to include it in all of my running clinics, training 100s to embrace the process . The Squat-Scoot was born!

The written picture summary below unfortunately cut off 2/12 segments. Thus, I will BRIEFLY lay them out in the hopes that you will adopt the Squat-Scoot.

  1. Keep Tight (outlined below)
  2. Stay Light – brace the body against the natural downward pull of gravity. Remember – any time you are airborne, bad things often happen. By landing on the mid-foot, driving the knees up slightly, pawing the feet back to land UNDER the hips, flicking the heels slightly toward the buttocks and recovering quickly into the next stride, you will ensure a QUIET, safe action. If you can hear your feet hitting the ground, stop, reset the bracing action and start running again

3. Stay Compact – this is key to the efficiency pillar of the Squat-Scoot. You MUST consciously ACTIVATE your muscles from the shoulders to the feet – no exceptions! At the same time, it is imperative to RELAX the neck muscles and the hands. Doing this allows you to keep the shoulders square (no wasted motion), the hips aligned, the body low to the ground (no pounding of the ground) and the feet landing in line with the knees, hips and shoulders (no wasted energy). Is this easy to master? No!! However, it is essential IF you want to run injury-free for years

4. Stay Forward – virtually every one of my running clients and athletes initially ran like they were on a pogo stick…in an up-down motion, hitting hard on their heels with locked knees. Essentially, they were letting gravity drive them down. The result? A constant jarring of the body that, over time, led to many of the ‘avoidable’ injuries I listed above. Running is a FORWARD motion. Thus, it is imperative to push the body FORWARD. The only way to do it is to apply the Squat-Scoot technique

Proper running is a LEARNED skill – a science that needs to be perfected with repetition. This takes time AND patience but is well worth it in the long run.

The photo above shows my clients doing a low forward crossover drill barefoot to strengthen the support muscles around the hips, gluteals and knees. This is a key drill to lock in COMPACT segment of the Squat-Scoot.

The 2 photos below show a client (on grass) and the old coach (on soft sand) barefoot putting the Squat-Scoot into action. Note specifically the symmetrical body position, the relaxed head and hands, the forward arm action, the knee lift and paw-back and the mid-foot landing. Perfect this and you will never turn back!

Above, my client is doing the paw-back drill barefoot to mentally lock onto the LIGHT and FORWARD components. She is perfectly squared up with relaxed hands and head. The only thing I would correct is the overly high arm drive. This could have been an ‘over-do-it’ response

Below, note my client perfecting the FORWARD component barefoot. He is possibly a tad to far forward but not excessively. The keys are the proper knee lift, mid-foot landing and heel flick.

Above, I am leading a running clinic indoors where I am focusing on the LIGHT component barefoot as always. All of the participants had experienced ‘avoidable’ running injuries. The focii in the drill are quick turnover of the feet (cadence) perfect posture (straight alignment from head to toe). Everyone was running pain-free by the end of the clinic.

Below, my client (a former 2-time Canadian Winter Olympics athlete) shows all 4 components of the Squat-Scoot barefoot. When we started the session, she was landing HARD on her heels with no idea how to run compact, light and forward. The result below was after only 11/2 hours of training!

Above, I have my ASD teenage client using low hurdles to lock in the knee lift and drive along with the mid-foot landing and forward push-off barefoot. You can use any low-lying objects to mimic the drill – it is a staple of my client training sessions!

Below, the old coach is barefoot and stationary, working on bracing my body, keeping the landing foot under my knees and hips and flicking the heel in preparation for the recovery phase into the drive phase. This is a drill you can use to perfect subtle components of teh Squat-Scoot before applying it outdoors.

Of course, none of my blogs are complete without a perfect sunset photo!! This was taken in Cozumel, Mexico just before the COVID-19 lock-down when I was training one of my ultra-Ironman clients. Needless to say, it was a magical moment!

Tight, Light, Compact, Forward = Squat-Scoot AND safe, efficient, powerful running. Perfect it and reap the rewards!!

coach Jeff

#CoachJeff Battles #COVID – Yikes!!

Our trip to Northern Ireland from July 15th to 23rd, 2022 was eventful for a number of reasons:

  1. we finally got a chance to visit our daughter, Kati, again in her adopted homeland after 21/2 years of COVID travel restrictions
  2. we finally got a chance to meet her South African Boer Boel 130 pound gentle giant, HOOCH (see picture later in this blog)
  3. we helped Kati move from her rental home in Belfast to her new home that she bought this May in Bangor just north of Belfast on the Irish Sea (exciting transition!)
  4. we got to meet and spend quality time with her boyfriend, Alistar – a police officer in Belfast with a home in Bangor – a true Irish gentleman with a huge heart (along with a 6’4″, 260 pound frame!!)
  5. we had a chance to meet some of Kati’s close Irish friends who have been so kind in helping her adjust to the Irish ways
  6. we had a full day (our second last day of our trip!) to actually relax on Rathlin Island (see photo above) – the most northern point of the Emerald Island

Of course, no trip for me is complete without swimming in open water (in photo above, I have just exited from the North Atlantic – water temperature a ‘balmy’ 9Celsius! I also swam on the beaches of the Irish Sea in Bangor – heavenly!)

Second in line is the opportunity to run barefoot – the photo below shows me on the mountain path that weaves its way around Rathlin Island. 9 kilometres of rough, up and down terrain. Well worth the adventure!!!

The upside-down lighthouse on the north-west coast of Rathlin Island is one-of-a-kind (2 photos above). The actual light is at the BOTTOM of the lighthouse, positioned as such due to the intense fog that often surrounds the island. The light shines under the fog blanket so that ships can better visualize their position. As you can tell, this is a fantastic vista and popular tourist attraction.

If you enlarge the photo below, you may be able to see the puffins at the base of the mountain along the shoreline. This is a popular resting and breeding ground for them – one of the main attractions of Rathlin Island. Also, the sea birds nest in the cracks and crevasses of the mountain, creating an impressive visual and auditory setting.

Alistar is leading with Kati and Patti following into the Rathlin Island museum overlooking the ocean (photo below).

BIG HOOCH in all his glory (photo below). In my opinion, he is a handsome canine!!!

He is also totally loyal to Kati as she is to him. It is beautiful to behold the 2 of them together. God help anyone who would step out of line with Kati though. Hooch is one strong, powerful animal with a generally gentle nature.

Pre-COVID diagnosis for the old coach caught in the photo above with my better half, Patti, on the burms of Rathlin Island overlooking the North Atlantic Ocean…breathtaking views.

On our second last night of the trip, we were treated to a breath-taking sunset (photo below) on the Irish Sea from our airbnb vista. No wonder Kati loves it in Northern Ireland. Views like this are the NORM not the exception.

At this point, I believe one of the COVID variants had already invaded! Even though I was testing negative, apparently you can still have the virus and show no symptoms. In another bizarre twist, Patti, Kati, Alistar and their friends I cam in direct contact with NEVER caught COVID.

Upon arriving back in Canada and making it to our home in London, I continued to test negative and felt perfectly fine…until I didn’t!!! Two days later, I started to feel lethargic and proceeded to bed…where I remained for most of the next 9 days!!! Positive test after positive test for COVID followed and the accompanying symptoms were beyond anything I had experienced in my 69 years:

  1. absolutely no interest in solid food (I would lose 9 pounds that I did not have to lose in 6 days!)
  2. lethargic to the point of simply lying in bed hoping to feel better AT SOME POINT
  3. the sweats followed by shivering – sheets off, sheets on every hour
  4. aching muscles throughout my body, especially in the lower back – to the point where it was impossible to roll over
  5. light-headed and loss of balance to the point where I toppled backwards through the shower curtain and banged my elbows, hips, lower back, shoulders and head against the tub and wall

In the depths of COVID (photo below)- Day 2 after developing symptoms and testing positive…thank God I made it home before getting sick!! This was my body position for 7 straight days!!

A few things I now know for certain:

  1. without Patti to care for me, I would have ended up in hospital
  2. without being physically fit with NO underlying conditions, I most likely would have ended up in ICU on death’s door
  3. without being fully vaccinated, I DEFINITELY would have ended up much worse off (I do not want to think of the results)

Day 10 after finally testing negative in the photo below, I actually ventured into Jeff’s Gym…not strong enough to train BUT enthused enough to visit!!!

I would not wish COVID on anyone. Experiencing a variant that invasive and powerful has simply reinforced my vulnerability AND the need to continue being vigilant, trusting those with the scientific knowledge to keep most of us safe!

I thank God that once again I have been blessed to continue living on planet EARTH…and given the chance to live a healthy life.

coach Jeff

#CoachJeff’s Young #Tennis Client Showing Progress:

As the summer approaches, I have been able to observe my young tennis client, 11 year old Cosmina Puscalau, playing in a few mini local tournaments in London, Canada. The following post will include various pictures of Cosmi in action with accompanying verbiage. In this way, you will be able to gauge her performance at various aspects of the game under match pressure. I will preface this by mentioning that she has made significant progress in her overall game since the beginning of 2022.

I have been working with her to load up from the feet to the body to the arms for full range, explosive movement into her shots. In the 3 photos below, you will notice that she has her body square to the ball taking it on the rise. The end results were 3 solid returns for winners.

Above, Cosmi is going from a wide ready position to a side stride to ‘step out’ in the ‘box’ to make a defensive return of a difficult serve. We have been working diligently to improve her footwork going from ‘ready’ position to each of the 4 return zones. This seems to be paying off in more winning points on longer rallies.

The 2 photos below show Cosmi in full serve mode. We have been working on wrist, arm, shoulder, chest, upper and mid back and core strength endurance and jumping into the serve to improve her speed and power through the full motion. This has been her weakest area to date BUT is gradually improving. Note her coiling from the feet through the knees into the arms and, ultimately, the ball. Consistency in the ball toss, racquet impact point and follow-through is the goal moving forward. Perfect practice will achieve this.

In the above 2 photos, Cosmi has just completed 2 strong forehand returns during a tournament match on clay in London, Canada. She has recently revamped her forehand and is working daily on perfecting the routine required for consistency with it. We spend a good portion of our training sessions working with resistance bands, kettle bells, medicine balls and dumbbells while balancing on the flat side of a Bosu Ball replicating the perfect forehand action. This will pay off over time…or else the old coach will be taken to task!!! lol

Below, the payoff for all of Cosmina’s dedication to the process of perfect practice – a victory in a London ‘mini’ tournament 1 month ago on clay courts. She won all 4 of her matches (2 of these were against older boys) en route to the win!

Between tournaments, Cosmi continues to train in my home gym where balance and core strength are key components. The first 2 photos below show her balancing from the knees on a Peanut Ball that is soft and wobbly. She can now balance on it for at least 1 minute…no easy task! The second one has Cosmi doing a combination elevated brace (core) held for 1 minute followed by 5 full push-ups. She must balance and stabilize her full body in order to successfully complete the drill. We do 3 sets of these.

The third photo below has Cosmi balancing on the flat side of a Bosu Ball with eyes closed. She must activate from the feet up to the balance centre in the brain and back through the whole body in order to stay stable on the ball. She does this for 1 minute eyes closed and open AND for 30 seconds on 1 leg eyes closed and open. Doing so translates into better balance on the court, more stability over her feet and better/faster brain processing under pressure.

NOTE – she does all of her training with me BAREFOOT…for reasons you know only too well!!!

The 2 pictures below show Cosmi with her winner’s trophy from a girls’ U12 Three Star Ontario Tennis Association tournament in Hamilton, Canada on June 24-26. The runner-up is in the first photo with Cosmi. The second shows Cosmi popping up through the car sunroof after arriving home. Even though the top-ranked girls were not playing, Cosmi (who is gradually improving her provincial and national ranking) still had to play well during all 3 matches to claim victory. Sometimes, the hardest matches to win are the ones where you are the favourite!!

Most recently, as in July 1-3 (see 2 photos below), Cosmi won her second straight girls’ U12 Three Star tournament in Milton, Ontario, Canada, winning 4 straight matches on her way to victory! She is pictured in the first photo below with her winner’s trophy and with the opponent (#2 seed) she beat in 2 sets for the title in the second photo.

Cosmi also had a straight sets win over the #1 seed in the quarter-finals. She is gaining confidence in herself AND her game, leading to a desire to play against (and beat) the top ranked girls in her age group. She certainly appears to be on the correct path to doing so.

On her journey thus far, there has been a VILLAGE supporting her. From her London, Canada coaches such as Fio Marin and, currently, Egor Koleganov to her parents (Gabi and Val) and siblings (Stephanie and Emma) along with extended family, Cosmi is well-loved, supported and guided toward achieving her tennis goals. I want to specifically highlight Cosmi’s mom, Felicia (better known as Gabi). A day does not go by without her unconditionally supporting Cosmi in pursuit of her tennis goals. Beyond that, she makes certain Cosmi stays current with her school work (she is an A student), commits to doing the extra tennis training required to improve her performance and makes sure Cosmi gets to practices, tournaments and training sessions at my gym – traveling literally hundreds of kilometres per week to do so. On top of that, she allows Cosmi to be a typical 11 year old girl – this helps her stay well-balanced and secure in herself! As all parents of children involved in extracurricular activities know, sacrifice and believing in oneself are the key components toward success!

At age 11, Cosmi has already accomplished a great deal. IF she stays keen on the sport AND continues to focus on perfect practice sprinkled with QUALITY rest breaks, she will accomplish much more. Next up is the National Qualifying tournament the weekend of July 8. All of the top Ontario U12 girls will be there. In other words, all matches will be a challenge for Cosmi. Is she up to the challenge???

Time – the great equalizer – will tell!!!

coach Jeff

The #CircleofLife Affects All of Us:

Over the past few years, there have been a number of events (some heart-warming, some heart-wrenching) that occurred within my immediate and rather large extended family. These particularly hit home with me – basically, to my very core. Label it turning 69 this May 1st or simply becoming more circumspect as I get closer to accepting the finite reality of life on earth. Either way, I am now moved to compose a blog featuring the more recent ups and downs of family lives lived.

LOSS:

Kenneth (Kenny) Brown – May 24, 1949 to May 18, 2022. Husband to my first cousin, Carol Preston (on my mom’s side of the family) and father to Ashley and K.C. Even though I was only in Kenny’s presence a few times (always at our family compound on Lake Huron – Inverhuron Beach, to be precise), he struck me as the consummate friendly bear. An exceptional ice hockey player and golfer, he was a better human being. As much as I feel for my cousin’s loss, I know Kenny is now out of pain and at peace

Mickey Stapleton – August 14, 1923 to May 25, 2022. Mickey almost made it to age 99!! My Aunt Mick was married to my Uncle Bill Stapleton (one of my dad’s older brothers). She passed away peacefully in the Pines Nursing Home in Bracebridge where she had resided for many years. In my humble opinion, she was one of the most strikingly beautiful women ON THE PLANET! She also happened to be strong-willed, principled and naturally intelligent – a force to be reckoned with. Her 3 daughters (my first cousins) – Lynn, Judy and Sharon – were her pride and joy. They grew into talented, strong-willed, independent women who made (Sharon) and make (Lynn and Judy) a positive difference in the world

GAIN:

Sarah and Cheryl Hawthorne – my niece, Sarah and her partner, Cheryl, welcomed their second child, Bodhi Bear, into the world 20 months ago. He joins sister, Esme, in an atmosphere full of love, caring, adventure and creative play beyond anything I have ever witnessed. As a result, he appears to be balanced, well-adjusted and aware of nature’s gifts even at age 20 months

Marley and Bert King – another of my nieces, Marley and her husband, Bert, also welcomed their second child, Ryker, into the world 10 months ago. He joins sister, Adelaide (Addie), into a family of sheer joy. As with all of my family members on my mom’s side, he has embraced the wonders of Inverhuron Beach on Lake Huron – the 5th generation to do so! Surrounded by love and positive energy, he is thriving

Rachel and Caleb Groenmy second cousin, Hardie Sanderson’s youngest daughter, Rachel and her husband, Caleb are preparing to welcome their first child in October. This is an exciting time for the Sanderson clan…another member to join the many cousins who make our cottage haven of Inverhuron Beach extra special. The newborn will enter a family unit that is secure, committed and respectful of others. A damn solid foundation…

Todd and Charlotte Boxermy nephew, Todd (my older sister’s youngest) married his longtime girlfriend, Charlotte Macdonald in May of this year. It was a magical day as a number of our family witnessed the vows and openly welcomed Charlotte and the Macdonald clan. Having gotten to know Charlotte at various family functions, there is no doubt she and Todd have a special bond that will only grow stronger over time

Generally, my family makes good relationship choices, stemming from the example set by our great grandparents on down the line. Are mistakes made? Yes – but, then again to few to mention…

Maintain:

Grace Stapleton – Grace is my great uncle, Allan’s wife. Uncle Al died in November, 2019 at age 99!!! Aunt Grace has continued on and currently sits at age 99 with the big 100 coming up on October 28. Even though Grace is struggling with memory issues and a few physical setbacks, she soldiers on. My cousins, John and Paul (Grace’s sons) visit on a regular basis and I put in a phone call every so often simply to touch base. I’m certain Grace has no real memory of me and most likely forgets my phone calls before we hang up. However, for a few moments, we entertain each other and keep the Stapleton family connection alive…not a bad thing at all

Richard (Rick) Martin – Rick is married to my second cousin on my mom’s side, Joanne (nee Stuart). Over the past year, it often appeared as if Rick would succumb to the ravages of cancer. He was also diagnosed with Parkinson’s a number of years ago and, at age 82, fully accepted the reality of impending death. Then, a more-than-minor miracle occurred that has left our family (and especially my cousin, Joanne, their children and grandchildren) more than grateful. Rick is now in remission and has his Parkinson’s at least somewhat under control. With the love of family, the care of excellent health professionals and through the grace of God, Rick gets a second chance to make another wonderful impression…

Benton (big Ben) Stapletonmy larger than life first cousin on my dad’s side (Ben’s dad, Bruce, was my dad’s oldest sibling) has fought through prostate cancer and a diagnosis of Parkinson’s to live another day (s). Ben is 10 years my senior and from the time I was a young athlete wanna-be, Ben was my hero. He played for the BC Lions in the CFL (football) AND was invited to the main camp of the New York Rangers (ice hockey). Beyond that, he was a top level squash player, amazing table tennis player, a snooker shark…well, you get the point! He could basically excel at ANY sport he decided to attack. Not only that, he used to play a mean piano!!! Of course, time has marched on and Ben has accepted his inevitable mortality – whenever that day comes. In the meantime, he continues to live each day with a warrior mentally and the unconditional love of his wife, Evy

As another Canada Day (July 1) approaches, my mom’s side of the family prepares to hold the annual Campbell (my mom’s Mom’s maiden name) Clan Open golf tournament AND post-match party at our family cottage. We anticipate close to 50 golfers and 100 party-goers of all ages…we have a LARGE extended family with many of them having cottages on Inverhuron Beach!

Needless to say, we will celebrate our GAINS, MAINTAINS and, yes, even our LOSSES, paying homage while enjoying the love and support of such a fantastic family.

The old coach is truly blessed!!!

coach Jeff