There is a wonderful charity called Right to Play This year, for the second time they hold an event called Right to Play Skate.
I had not heard of this until a friend mentioned it. Seeing how it was for an excellent cause, fit into my schedule and would have Toronto Maple Leafs past and present, I signed up, donated, loaded up the skates in the hockey bag, and headed down with my child in tow. I discovered the hard way that whilst a bag with 2 pairs of skates and a helmet is not terribly heavy, it is an unbalanced load! It all kept going to one side, so I looked like a hunchback walking from St. George station to Varsity Arena.
Kudos to Jeff Marek and Elliote Friedman for their excellent MC duties. They both did a good job.
The biggest news from the event is that I didn't fall once during the entire 2 hours I was on the ice. I started out right next to the boards but managed to work my way up to being faster than the 3 year olds, and by the end of the skate I could skate as good as a 5th grader...from The South! At least I did it, and had a blast. For me the joy of skating is when you finally find your groove, a feeling summed up in the classic song "River"
One gentleman in particular was every helpful, skating between me and the boards, offering me much needed encouragement. Being a one sport woman, I had no clue that it was Mike O'Shea of the Toronto Argonauts! My heartfelt thanks, Mr. O'Shea.
The celebrities scheduled were:
* John Pohl - Toronto Maple Leafs
* Alexander Steen - Toronto Maple Leafs
* Bates Battaglia - Toronto Maple Leafs
* Vesa Toskala - Toronto Maple Leafs
* Andy Wozniewski - Toronto Maple Leafs
* Marnie McBean - Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Rowing
* Mike O'Shea - Toronto Argonauts, linebacker
* Bryan Crawford - Toronto Argonauts
* Billy Bridges - Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Sledge Hockey
* Josee Chouinard - Olympian, Figure Skating
* Jane Rumball - Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Rowing
* Darcy Marquardt - Olympian, Rowing
* Sabrina Kolker - Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Rowing
* Anna-Marie de Zwager - Olympian, Rowing
* Erin McLean - Women's Softball
* Andrew Hayley - Right To Play Athlete Ambassador, Swimming
* Mandy Cronin - Canadian Women's Hockey League, Brampton Thunder
* Kevin Sally - Archery (retired)
* Peter Zezel - Toronto Maple Leafs, alumni
* Jack Valiquette - Toronto Maple Leafs, alumni
* Gary Leeman - Toronto Maple Leafs, alumni
* Mike Pelyk - Toronto Maple Leafs, alumni
* Lou Franceschetti - Toronto Maple Leafs, alumni
* Marilyn Ruth Take - Figure Skating (retired)
I got autographs from Leafs past and present. Zezel signed my Mogilny jersey in the spot I was saving for AlMo(the closest to my heart), but I'll forgive him since he is the Honest Ed of Toronto hockey. Of course the fact that he is part Slavic helps! To nase! as my Ukie friends always holler. Funny that the two autographs on my jersey which are literally closest to my heart are from members of that great Leafs team from 92-93 that showed so much of it - Zezel & Clark.
I had brief chats with Bates Battaglia, Gary Leeman, Alexander Steen and Elliotte Friedman from The Score.
With Battaglia we discussed memories of the Carolina/Toronto conference final, or more accurately my memories. He said he is surprised how long the memories of Leafs fans go about things like that. The last thing I said to him was "Nce talking with you - hopefully you're around for a while." He was put on waivers this morning...oops, sorry 'bout that.
I told Leeman he was one of the few bright spots during the Darkest Days of Leafdom. He was genuinely pleased and jokingly said it's always a dark time for Leafs fans. Indeed we are our own worst enemies but you have to admit we never lose hope. We got a chuckle out of that.
From Alexander Steen I learned that yes, they did indeed practice Sunday morning. He said most players were not on the ice but they were working out - no free ride from Paul Maurice.
Wozniewski and Pohl were also there but I didn't have a chance to really chat with them. I didn't get to Jack Valiquette(who looked like a slim Santa) or Bill Derlago, but my son won a soccer ball autographed by all the athletes present. He also tore up the ice for 2.5 hours; the only thing I tore up was some flesh on my legs. Ah, the joys of skate bite!