Sporting leader remembers Christmas favourites
Recall some memorable Christmas gifts from their childhood
The Compass asked four local sporting leaders to reflect on some of the best Christmas gifts they received as children, and their answers were quite revealing.
Everyone has a favourite Christmas gift.
Whether it was that Barbie you received in Grade 3, or the new Playstation entertainment system you received last year, there is always a gift that stands the test of time in your memory.
However, if you played sports as a child, there might be a couple of gifts that stand out. Like the hockey stick you wanted, or the new pair of skates you waited all fall to receive.
It did not matter what you asked for, Santa always delivered.
That does not stop, as you get older.
There is always something you want, or wish you could have, and Christmas is the perfect time to get it.
Whether you are a professional athlete or a weekend warrior, there is always something on your list.
The Compass decided to dig out the favourite sports-related gifts some of the region’s more prominent sporting figures received while growing up.
Glenn Littlejohn, Port de Grave MHA
Glenn Littlejohn might be best known now as the MHA for the district of Port de Grave, however, growing up he was heavily involved in the sporting scene in Bay Roberts.
Whether it was growing up playing hockey in the region during the winter or softball during the summer, Littlejohn was always at something.
When thinking back, Littlejohn’s favourite athletically themed gifts revolve around skates.
In fact, his first pair of steel-toed skates were a Christmas gift. Littlejohn remembers buying them from local merchant R & I Saunders.
“They are a pair of Bauer Big Chiefs,” he said.
Littlejohn was in Grade 5 when he received those cherished boots.
“I remember going down to a skating party after Christmas with the school and I had the new skates,” he said.
In fact, skates were always around during the holiday season.
“You made due till Christmas, and then Santa always gave you a new pair of skates,” said Littlejohn. “From a Bauer Big Chief to a pair of CCM Tacks.”
Now, he said his list is pretty short these days.
As long as the boot lasts him, Littlejohn figures that might be the last pair of skates he owns.
Nick Saunders, president, Eastlink CeeBee StarsNick
Saunders was always into hockey growing up, both watching and playing Canada’s
game. The 39-year-old smiles when he remembers one of his favourite sports-related gifts.
At age 9, Saunders was a big fan of superstar Wayne Gretzky. So much so, all he wanted was a first edition of the Mattell Wayne Gretzky doll. But, that’s not what he calls it. “You can call it a doll, you can call it a Barbie, but I insisted it was an action figure,” said Saunders.
That same year, he received another cherished gift.
It was a Gretzky model Titan hockey stick.
“It was best of the best,” said Saunders. “It had (Gretzky’s) autograph print on it.”
Thirty year later, Saunders is still looking at hockey sticks. An Easton Stealth composite hockey stick is on his Christmas list this year.
He broke his off a couple of weeks ago.
“I’d also like a great second half of the season for the CeeBees,” said Saunders.
Scott Crosbie, president, Bay Arena minor hockey
Scott Crosbie is another resident who played a great deal of hockey coming up through the system. However, unlike the others, one of his favourite gifts has a connection to another sport.
“I remember getting a football,” said Crosbie.
Maybe 12 at the time, football was not a sport with a heavy presence in Newfoundland. It still doesn’t.
But, Crosbie used to plop himself down in front of the television every Sunday and watch the likes of Dallas Cowboys’ running back Tony Dorsett and San Francisco 49ers quarterback Joe Montana.
“I always wanted one because it looked really cool,” said Crosbie. “I liked the body contact part of it.
“Turns out Santa had left it in the front porch, so I didn’t get it right away. It was sometime a little later in the morning when Santa found it and sent it out.”
Almost 33 years later, Crosbie has fond memories of two gifts he bought for his children.
“I can still remember the day I bought them their first pair of skates,” he said.
Peggy Wakeham, recent Canadian Women’s Hockey League draftee
Peggy Wakeham is still as involved in hockey as she was growing up. She is an on-ice official with Bay Arena minor, and has skated with the University of Vermont in the past.
When she was 11, Wakeham remembers one of her more memorable gifts.
“Santa completely surprised us,” she said. “It was a gift between my brother and I and it wasn’t something we had asked for, but loved it.”
Wakeham and her brother, Matthew, had been given an air hockey table.
It did not take long before the sibling rivalry carried over to the table.
“It led to some heated and spirited battles in the basement,” she said.
The game is still at the family home in Bay Roberts.
“It is still in the basement, just in case an argument needs to be solved over a game of air hockey,” said Wakeham.
An avid walker and runner, there is one item at the top of her list this year — a GPS running watch.
“I’ve already sent my letter to the big guy,” said Wakeham.