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The New Hat

My son got a new hat the other day. There was really nothing special about it. If anything, it looked like one of the many poorly crafted hats that I had enjoyed in my younger days.

“I picked it for Grampy in heaven, because he liked baseball” he said with a proud smile. I gently leaned in, kissed his forehead and told him that my Dad would have loved the hat. I did this calmly and in full control of my emotions, however, on the inside, my heart was racing, the tears building as my lungs gasped for air and I was suddenly flooded with a swell of memories from my days with my father.

What my son doesn’t know is that, over 6 years later, I do the same thing. It seems that almost everything reminds me of my father in some way or another. Ultimately, it’s the reason I stopped playing fastball, because that’s the thing we shared more than anything else and every time I took the field, after his death, the emotions became too overwhelming.

There’s also my unreasonable love for anything Sherlock Holmes and the sudden instinct to purchase old Hardy Boys books whenever I spot them. There are many other situations I can think of that, good or bad, have me instinctively doing something with no rhyme or reason attached to them. I’m no head doctor, so I’m not about to try to figure them all out but I’m assuming its normal behavior for anyone who has lost someone so close to them.

I thought about how I was distancing myself from the things we shared together instead of embracing them. It’s not that I wanted to forget, it’s just that I don’t want to be constantly reminded of it, if that makes any sense. It’s hard, man. Life has definitely become easier but those last days certainly haven’t vanished from my memory. That said, I didn’t want to return to that anxiety ridden “Why me” place that I spent so much time in. I want to be the story of the guy who fought through adversity and came out stronger on the other side, not the guy who caved to the memories and hurt his own family in the process.

You may look at my son’s new hat and just see a poorly made hat from any department store in the world, but to me, it’s a symbol that I’m doing better now. It taught me that life can go on, even with the heart break, and that my father’s memory will live on in my children even though they never had the chance to actually meet him.

I dusted off my ball cleats last weekend in hopes of making a comeback next season; because I know my Dad would have liked that.

Always A Humbling Experience At ‘The Gil’

Pictured above are the Lake Simcoe Lightning fastball team, who also happen to be the champions of the 6th Annual Gil Read Memorial Fastball Tournament held this past weekend. This year’s edition of the tournament was by far the best we’ve ever had and I couldn’t be happier with the direction it is trending in.

I’m always left humbled by the end of tournament weekend by all of the hard work that people put into making it a success. Not only is it a testament to the memory of my father but in a world where social media magnifies all the bad, it’s nice to see so many people who are coming together to do something good for the kids. From volunteers pulling 8 hour shifts and off duty doctors tending to injured athletes, to bartender volunteers staying until 1am and locals lending us their BBQ when ours breaks down, I am always left amazed at the amazing community of people this tournament has supporting it.

Our corporate sponsors give year after year without so much as a follow up email, with some of them even offering money before we ask for it. We are endlessly appreciative to companies like Rebel Tents, Play It Again Sports, Logs End, Cabotto’s Dining Lounge and Broker 4 Tickets, who give up their hard earned money so that we can continue to put on this event and provide funding for the kids. These companies understand what we are trying to do and it creates a family atmosphere instead of a business one, which is truly amazing. There are so many more and they will get their love in due time.

We started this thing 6 years ago with no idea what it was going to look like and now we not only have a flourishing tournament, that hit it’s 12 team goal for the first time, but we’ve also been able to raise enough money to help a lot of kids who otherwise would not have been able to compete in organized sport. I am proud of the work we are doing, humbled by the amount of help we are offered and I know my Dad would have loved every second of this tournament and initiative.

Thank you to everyone who showed up, helped out, sponsored, played, spent your hard earned money, tweeted, shared, laughed and cried (okay, that was just me) at the Gil Read Memorial Tournament this year. Without you, none of this would be possible and we wouldn’t be able to provide for these kids who just want to have the same opportunity that their friends have.

Cheers!

My Favourite Part Is When Our Kids Give Out The Trophy!

My Favourite Part Is When Our Kids Give Out The Trophy!

Announcing The 6th Annual Gil Read Memorial Fastball Tournament

For those of you who don’t know, I am the co-founder of a non-profit organization called, The Gil Read Memorial Foundation. Our goal is to provide financial support for children who can’t afford to participate in organized sport and I am extremely proud of the work we do. Gil Read was my father and dedicated a lot of his free time to coaching and developing children into amazing people. This charity was our way of continuing his legacy and paying tribute to him.

Every year we run a huge, high level fastball tournament in the city of Carp, Ontario and we are all set to announce that the 6th Annual Gil Read Memorial Tournament is scheduled and ready to go. The tournament will take place from July 26th to July 28th at the Carp Fairgrounds. We have maxed out at our 12 team limit for the first time and this promises to be the best tournament yet! A day pass is $5 and a weekend pass is $10 with kids under 12 free.

As far as fan entertainment goes, we have a lot lined up for you! There is a Beer Tent on location, sponsored by our friends at Rebel Tents. We also have Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, lots of Water and other snacks available throughout the weekend. We have lots of prizes available as well and all the wonderful volunteers are available and willing to help out in any way possible to make this a great experience for you and your family!

Please feel free to bring your kids out to the event as well, as the diamonds feature a Splash Pad and Park on site, along with plenty of open space for the kids to run around and play. Not to mention that they are the future of our sport and we love to see them out there enjoying themselves!

We are always looking for new volunteers and we are especially in need of Corporate Sponsorship and Prizing, as this is what helps the Foundation continue in providing for our local kids.

If you’re interested in helping out with sponsorship or volunteering, please feel free to email me at chris@canadiandad.com or find me at my Twitter page @CanadianDadBlog and I’d be happy to talk to you! We hope to see you at the tournament!!!

Just Call Me Coach

“Coach Chris”. That’s what the kids are calling me these days and I have to say that it feels pretty good. I guess you could say that I was destined to take on this role. You see, I was raised by one of the greatest coaches to ever step on a field. That man was my father and also my hero.

Truth is, I didn’t even sign up to be my son’s coach for his first year of T-Ball. It was only after we received an email from the league telling us they were short that I decided to throw my name in. I don’t have an official reason for why I didn’t sign up in the first place. I rationalized it by telling myself and my wife that it was because I was way too busy to take on coaching two nights a week, but I knew what the real reason was.

It’s been almost 6 years since I lost my father and while a lot of things have become easier, this is the one that I have been dreading most. He had coached me in multiple sports for as long as I can remember. We traveled a lot. We won championships together. He helped me develop my skills, not only as an athlete, but also as a man. Sports were the major reason for our great relationship. It was our bond.

It’s not that I didn’t want to coach and share that bond with my son, I just wasn’t sure I was ready for the emotional overload that was going to come with it. As it turns out, I couldn’t be happier with my decision. As I grew older, I often wondered what had compelled my father to put so much effort into something that seemed to come with nothing but high costs, upset parents and the stresses of dealing with a team full of kids. I found the answer.

It has only been half a season so far and I already love every one of the kids on my team. They all have different skills and quirks and smiles that make each one of them unique and amazing. The innocent joy on their faces when they catch the ball or win the game of freeze tag, is something that changes you. It changes your whole outlook on what is important and I like to think that this was a secret that my Dad would have shared with me had he still been round to see this.

As for my son, I try not to be too hard on him. I know exactly what it feels like to be the coach’s son and it’s something that he is going to have to get used to because I’m not going anywhere.

The 5th Annual Gil Read Memorial Fastball Tournament in #Ottawa

I’m very happy and even more excited to announce that The 5th Annual Gil Read Memorial Fastpitch Tournament is all geared up and ready to go! The tournament will take place at the Carp Fairgrounds in the Village of Carp, Ontario, home of the Carp I4C Victory Fast Ball Club.

The tournament will run from July 27th to July 29th and features some of the best fastball in Eastern Ontario and Quebec. The games will begin Friday the 27th at 7pm. A day pass is $5 and a weekend pass is $10 with kids under 12 free.

For those of you who don’t know, and there’s probably a lot of you, The Gil Read Memorial Foundation is a charity that my family set up shortly after my father passed away. Our goal is to help less fortunate children compete in sports and we’re proud of the work we do in his honour!

I could go on forever about my Dad, as you all know, but I want to focus on the tournament this time around so I’ll leave you with a link to the About Gil page on our website, as well a Guest Post I did about him for the Big Brothers, Big Sisters of Ottawa website.

A little bit about the venue. Carp, located approximately 20 minutes west of Ottawa, has been a fast pitch community for many years. In the early 1990’s, The Carp Valley Pride made their home at the Carp Fairgrounds and boasted one of the top lineups in all of Canada. It was an easy choice for us and we know you’ll love it there.

We have 10 teams entered in this years competition, ranging from local to long distance: Carp I4C Victory, Kars Aces, Fitzroy Harbour West Carleton Electric, Ottawa Taylor Blitz, Stittsville 56ers, Toronto Gators, Donnaconna Blue Sox, Cornwall Pickups, Chisasibi Comets & the Elkland, PA Thunderbellys.

As far as fan entertainment goes, we have a lot lined up for you! There is a Beer Tent on location, sponsored by our friends at Molson’s. We also have Hamburgers, Hot Dogs, lots of Water and other snacks available throughout the weekend. We have lots of prizes available as well and all the wonderful volunteers are available and willing to help out in any way possible to make this a great experience for you and your family!

Please feel free to bring your kids out to the event as well, as the diamonds feature a Splash Pad and Park on site, along with plenty of open space for the kids to run around and play. Not to mention that they are the future of our sport and we love to see them out there enjoying themselves!

We are always looking for new volunteers and we are especially in need of Corporate Sponsorship, as this is what helps the Foundation continue in providing for our local kids.

If you’re interested in helping out with sponsorship or volunteering, please feel free to email me at chris@canadiandad.com or find me at our Twitter page @GilReadMemorial and I’d be happy to talk to you!

Thank You for your continued support and I hope to see you at the Ball Park for some great Fastball for a great cause!

Cheers!!