AS WE PREPARE for Thanksgiving week, what do we have to be thankful for in the sports world on the Olympic Peninsula?
First of all, bracing against the 35-degree weather this week, I’m very thankful that we are done with outdoor sports for a few months. I literally could not feel my toes the day after a recent Port Angeles-Olympic girls’ soccer match at Civic Field (and our photographer couldn’t feel his hands). I’m Canadian, but when your toes are still tingling after 24 hours, that’s enough even for me.
For now, we crawl into our comfortable gyms as basketball and wrestling season takes over. We’re thankful for how warm and cozy those gyms are. And the atmosphere from the supportive and huge local crowds you see at the games is truly fun.
And, to be honest, I’m thankful that the flu shot I get every year has kept me from getting sick from being inside those crowded gyms packed full of sniffling, adorable little germ factories.
Here on the North Olympic Peninsula, we should give thanks for the amazing soccer programs at Peninsula College. Since 2010, the men’s and women’s programs have totaled nine NWAC championships, including another one for the men this year. There aren’t enough superlatives to express how fantastic that is for a rural college going up against programs based in Portland, Tacoma, Seattle and Spokane.
We’re also seeing that success trickle down from the college to area high school teams, with girls’ teams in Port Angeles and Sequim going to the state 2A tournament this season and Storm King teams more than holding their own against teams from Seattle. I keep saying it over and over, the Olympic Peninsula is turning into a mecca of soccer.
On a personal note
On more personal notes, I’m thankful that for the first time since I moved back to Washington, I will actually be able to sit down and watch the Apple Cup this year instead of being on the road somewhere, fighting the “bomb cyclone” or Civil War football traffic in Oregon.
I’m thankful that I didn’t have to end up eating my fingers and toes while stuck in the Canadian wilderness overnight this summer. I’m thankful I didn’t get encephalitis from the 200-plus mosquito bites I ended up with during that night.
Watching family members battling cancer, I’m thankful for my health. Well, relatively — literally as I write this, I had to pop my wonky shoulder back in.
I’m thankful to be seeing so much construction downtown and seeing the McKinley mill reopening. It’s been a rough few years for Port Angeles, but you can see the town. Honestly, with the prime location of Port Angeles, the gorgeous climate and scenery and the proximity to Olympic National Park and Victoria, B.C., I’m really surprised the area isn’t booming more. It certainly feels like lately as if a corner has been turned.
I’m thankful for the incredible wilderness and outdoors areas of the Olympic Peninsula. I barely went to the west side of the Peninsula the past three years because of all the road construction around Lake Crescent, but this year, I made a point to visit the Sol Duc Valley and La Push/Rialto Beach areas more. This is truly an amazing part of the world that we all probably take for granted too much.
I’m thankful that for the first time in seven years, my favorite football team is truly a force to be reckoned with and damn fun to watch for once. No, I’m not telling you which team it is, you Seahawks-loving readers out there.
I’m thankful that it’s only another 22 months before Seattle’s hockey franchise begins play in the NHL. Seriously, if you aren’t already a hockey fan, to quote Yoda from the “Empire Strikes Back” … you will be.
I’m thankful that flights and hotels in Las Vegas are so cheap so I can afford to go to the Tool show there next month.
I’m thankful Don Cherry will no longer be embarrassing Canada on the air. Now, if we could just get rid of Nickleback and Justin Bieber.
And most of all, I’m thankful that after years out of the sports world, I’m back in it and doing something I love. After three-plus years, I still can’t believe I’m being paid to do this.
Sports Editor Pierre LaBossiere can be contacted at 360-417-3525 or [email protected].