Wednesday, 1 March 2017

Late Regina Rams head coach cared about the person first

Gordon Gray Currie 1923-2017

A picture of Gord Currie from his celebration of life.
    REGINA - “You win by not looking at the scoreboard at the end of the field but the scoreboard in your heart.
    “When you walk off the field, that is great when you look at the scoreboard in your heart. You walk away with something with substance, and it adds to the rest of your life to what you are.
    “It goes far beyond moving a football up and down the field. It is difficult to measure this type of growth. It is an amazing thing to witness in life.”
    Gordon Gray Currie spoke those words to me back in November of 2000, when I was putting together a history feature on the Regina Rams for the official website for university sports in Canada called at the time The piece ran days before the Rams, who were in their second season as a university team, appeared in that year’s Vanier Cup championship game. They ultimately fell 42-39 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees in that contest.
    Currie, who was the Rams head coach in their Canadian Junior Football League days from 1965 to 1976, was describing the intangibles as to why the Rams won. He followed these words during his whole coaching career, which included guiding teams in football, baseball and hockey.
    Currie passed away at age 93 on Feb. 22, 2017. He was in remarkably good health and active in his late 80s and his 90s. It was only in recent years he battled with medical issues.
    A massive group of family and friends gathered at the Conexus Arts Centre on Wednesday in Regina to pay tribute the legendary coach, who is best remember for guiding the Rams to six CJFL championships, at a celebration of his life.
    Currie was also an educator, school principle and a member of the legislative assembly in Saskatchewan for one term. He was named to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame (1978), a member of the Order of Canada (1979) and to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame as a builder (2005).
A memorial set up at Gord Currie’s celebration of life.
    On the little known fact side, the sport Currie pursued and played at a high level was hockey, which was the first sport he coached.
    Everyone remembered that his greatest gift was his ability to make people feel important and special. The star running back for the Rams played that much better because of Currie’s influence. That Grade 12 student from Campbell Collegiate that was just scraping by and looking to drop out stayed in school and graduated at Currie’s request.
    People “upped their game” due to Currie no matter what walk of life they were in.
    What was more amazing was the fact Currie coached and taught at a time through the 1940s, 50s, 60s, 70s and 80s when it was unheard of to inspire people by treating them with respect. He inspired people to be better persons at a time when most coaches motivated through intimidation and fear. Currie never dipped into the intimidation and fear tactics that were prominent in his time.
    As a result of Currie’s approach, the results did look after themselves, as his coaching career resulted in numerous championships. One of those championships included his last game as Rams head coach in 1976, when he guided them to a CJFL title with 45-23 victory over the Hamilton Hurricanes before over 10,000 spectators at Taylor Field.
An old Leader-Post page paying tribute to Gord Currie.
    Everyone that came to his celebration of life had some memory of meeting Currie and feeling better about themselves. Even if you only dealt with him two or three times in your life, Currie still remembered you, and you came away feeling better about yourself.
    If you wanted to write a tribute about all the great things Currie did in his life, you could spend an endless amount of time doing that.
    Those that knew Currie would know the best tribute you could give to the late coach is just working to be the best person you can be every day and do your best to make a positive impact on your community and in life.
    That is also a great lesson everyone can follow and an enduring one coming from arguably the most legendary amateur coach in Saskatchewan.

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