Montrose native and professional hockey player Connor Jones continues with a look back at his time growing up in Greater Trail in his next installation of ‘Top Shelf Stories.’
After the tournament incident, we found ourselves growing up! Surprising yes, but over a few years the competitiveness had grown exponentially.
Kel and I are now wired like little psychos. Battling at every little thing we did. Sports, school, whatever it was, there had to be a winner and a loser.
I think Mom and Dad challenged us to see who could rake the leaves fastest or who had the cleanest room, or my Gramps’ personal fave, who could grab a beer quickest from the downstairs fridge.
In 1 v 1 sports though, the loser usually showed up at the front door, in tears, with a bloody nose or skinned knee, complaining that the winner had somehow cheated. This occurred almost every day. Most days twice, even three times.
When we were on the same team it was usually fine. Although, when we were 12, Kel skated over and punched me after I didn’t pass to him on a 2 on 1… There’s a lot more stories like that, but one of the most memorable, was a few years earlier at the Fruitvale Cross Country Race.
So it’s October, a nice, hot, fall afternoon in the Beaver Valley. The race was around the old middle school, with the finish over by where the soccer and baseball fields met the parking lot.
It’d been a bummer of a year so far for us, we hadn’t won a race yet, 0-6.
Finally, this was it, one of us should win. Kel and I sped into the final 100 meters in first and second, by a good 50 meters to whoever was behind. We were so far ahead we couldn’t even see who it was. We should win this one, key word, ‘should.’
I was following a couple strides behind Kel with 70 meters left.
Few seconds later, we make the last turn in front of the soccer field, near the road with all the parents and students cheering. The adrenaline was pumping and I muster up all my energy to sprint past Kel. I get by, but I guess I knock off his rhythm and cut him off, or so he says. He stumbles, but is still right behind me and seems ok.
He was not ok.
Instead of racing past me to most likely win, he catches me and gives me the hardest right hook he could. It was like a flying tackle punch to the stomach.
We ferociously tumble into a heap of energy on the gravel road. Sweaty limbs flying everywhere! 30 feet from the finish line. Probably would have gone on all night, if I didn’t see Craig Cunningham absolutely tearing down the home stretch like 10 seconds later. HE WAS FLYING!
“Kel! Craig!” I shout at Kel while slapping his disgruntled face.
We scramble up, half wrestling as we try to resume sprinting, Craig gaining on us impossibly fast. I still can’t imagine what he thought after turning that corner and seeing us rolling around in the dirt, wildly throwing haymakers at one another.
Fifteen feet from the finish line now, Kel and I right beside each other, completely out of breathe from our furious scrap. Actually showing some incredible multitasking abilities: bleeding, crying, sprinting, swearing, fighting, it was outrageously disgusting.
Craig passes us filthy pigeons with two feet to go. We finish tied for second.
Not that we received our little silk ribbons… Mom was waiting near the finish line. There was steam coming out of her ears. Flushed and filled with embarrassment from her two idiot sons, she just pointed towards the field exit with her hands on her hips. As if saying, “You two actually think you’re staying for the podium?”
At least no one could tell us we didn’t give our max efforts. Also, it should be noted that no one ever said we could finish tied for first and both win.
Unfortunately, we passed Bluebird Corner on the way home again … It wasn’t pretty.