Friday, September 02, 2011

Professional Athletes

Yesterday we went to the opening social for this secret club that BYU has—the PLC. Andrew was told to apply, so he did, and he got in. We had no idea what it was but they only ever accept about 40 students per school year. Basically it's a closed forum where fancy donors to the university—members of the PLC—come and talk to the students in the secret club. They do one-on-one mentoring sessions and monthly forums and Q&A's over lunch.

LDS Philanthropies is in charge of organizing it, I guess, and the guy who has been running the program won't be in a few months. He introduced us to his replacement: John McCorquindale. He's from Calgary, Alberta, and he played football for BYU in 1975. He later went on to play in the CFL—the Canadian Football League.

At this point I leaned over and whispered to Andrew, "I wasn't aware we had a professional football league."

I know we play football in Canada and I know that our rules vary slightly from American football. But off the top of my head I can't tell you any names of the football teams in the alleged "CFL" or name any current players (though after looking it up, Calgary Stampeders does ring a bell). I have no memories of ever watching football on TV and seem to only vaguely recall the fact that my high school had a football team. We had a football unit in PE where some of us—not me—learned how to catch and throw a football (I still can't really catch or throw a football).

Football in Canada simply isn't what it is in the United States.

It's like Americans not being able to name soccer teams. I mean, the only one that I can name off the top of my head is Real Salt Lake. Soccer in America simply isn't what it is in Europe. Or South America. Or Africa.

Anyway, John McCorquindale played for the Winnepeg Blue Bombers (never heard of 'em) from 1978–80 and for the Saskatchewan Rough Riders (okay, them I've heard of) from 1981–83. He now works for LDS Philanthropies. And he rode in the elevator with us on the way out of last night's social.

"So, you're from Alberta," I said.

Trust me, half the stuff I told you I had to look up. All Dan, the former administrator of this secret club, told us was that "John's from Alberta, too! Or Calgary." And then I said, "Calgary is in Alberta." And then he said, "Oh. Well, John played football for BYU and was later drafted into the Canadian Football League." After Dan walked away is when I turned and whispered to Andrew about not knowing we had a CFL.

"I am," said McCorquindale.

"So am I!" I said.

"Oh, whereabouts?" asked McCorquindale.

"High River...?" I ventured.

Introducing myself is so hard sometimes. Like anyone wants to hear my whole life story...but there isn't really a simple way of answering the question of my roots. Where am I from? That is the question. I chose the location I'm "from" depending on who I'm talking to, what I want to divulge, and how long I want the conversation to last.

"Oh, I know High River," he said. "I'm from Calgary."

"Cool," I said.

And that was about the extent of our conversation because then the elevator doors opened and I had to chase Miriam down the hall. Andrew teased me about it while we were walking to the car.

"You just met a professional football player and the first thing you said was, 'So, you're from Alberta?'"

Of course. That way he knew I wasn't an impostor because that's the way all Albertans begin conversations. What else was I supposed to say? Probably not, "So, you played in the CFL? I didn't even know we had a CFL." Seriously...I'm pretty sure that wouldn't have been a great idea.

I'm not the only one who talked to a professional athlete this week. Andrew had the opportunity to represent the MPA program and Romney Institute at a golf/brunch/fundraiser thing (not as a golfer, mind you). Shawn Bradley was there. Shawn Bradley is 7 ft. 6 in. tall! He's basically a giant.

Shawn Bradley also did not golf. I have a hunch this might be because they don't make golf clubs long enough for a person of his altitude. Andrew said his head was brushing against the top of the tent they had set up for the brunch.

He played basketball for BYU for the 1990–91 school year. He then went on a mission to Australia and was then drafted into the NBA. He played in the NBA from 1993–2005 from the Philadelphia 76ers (1993–1995), the New Jersey Nets (1995–1997), and the Dallas Mavericks (1997–2005). Now he's retired and works at a private school and does a bunch of NPO charity work.

Come to think of it, I'm not actually sure that Andrew did in fact talk to Shawn Bradley. He may have just stared at him. In which case, my conversation with John McCorquindale wasn't lame at all. At least I talked to the guy!

After all, professional athletes are just regular people.

My former next-door neighbour plays baseball in the minor league.

My former across-the-street neighbour's brother played hockey in the NHL.

They're all just regular people.

But I still reserve the right to brag about the fact that I've met and talked to them.


  1. You didn't even mention your down-the-street and around-the-corner footballers, such as ...

  2. Oh, that's right! I forgot about Paul!

  3. I played hockey with Brent's brother. Well, street hockey. :)

    You also have a minor league pitcher who used to live next door (one of the Nelsons).

  4. And Bishop Bybee used to play in the NFL.

  5. Ryan Walters I already got.
    Jon I already got.

    Bishop Bybee played for BYU, I know, but I was unaware that he was in the NFL and I can't find anything to back that up, either.