There is this man, and he has motivated people all across our nation to work hard, be patient, and foster their own talents. He has inspired our children to act as leaders, with the power of what can be, instead of what currently is.
There is this man, and at the age of 14 he decided to leave his hometown and move to Toronto, with the hope of creating a better future for himself.
There is this man, and his name has rung through the ears of both faithful hockey fans, with their painted faces and waving flags, and the not-so-interested Canadians, who would have heard of him from ecstatic friends, endearing teachers, or proud parents. “Wayne Gretzky” has become a household name.
There is this man, and he plays hockey. He represents both Canadian diligence and resilience, and in his sport seems to be a reflection of our own ideals.
Still, how had he become such a hero? All across the web statements supporting his work and play can be found. On his public Facebook page, which totals almost 80,000 individuals, one middle-aged fellow stated that, “No other man, except my father, had such an important influence on my childhood.” Adults growing up at the same time as Gretzky watched him as a peer: excelling, growing, and eventually reaching an absolute pinnacle of stardom.
“Growing up” for Gretzky was spending hours on the ice rink his father made in their back yard practicing his shots, skating tactics, and stick handling. He was talented, for at the age of 10 he broke his first record in his hometown Brantford by scoring 378 goals in their atom league. Often he battled older youth on the ice, becoming increasingly prominent as he went, and he was the youngest person to ever score 50 or more goals in a season. Years later, his career totaled at 894 goals, and he was one of the only 3 players to ever score more than 100 assists in a season (he had done it 11 times).
But why is he an iconic Canadian? Is it because no matter what level of fame he acquired he still seemed to instilled a sense of humility to his fans? Or was it because despite his challenges he had been able to climb to the top of his sport? Was it because he was the youngest, the fastest, or the the most diligent? Was it a mixture of media favour and dumb luck?
It could be all of the above, and really, it could be because he was passionate about his goals (pun intended). He showed us that we all can do great things, if we were willing to put in the effort. Where would he have been if he didn’t spend those days on his father’s ice rink? What would he have done, if he had just hoped for the scouts to find him in his yard? It seems likely that not much would have happened. Talent needs fostering, and he understood that.
Speaking of that man today, with legacy running through hundreds of books, and in the minds of thousands of Canadians, one can only say that:
There is a man, and he is a great Canadian.