‘There’s always someone bigger’
Angus Reid ventured back to elementary school Thursday to make a point—there’s always someone bigger.
On the eve of his retirement from the Canadian Football League following a 13-year playing career that included two Grey Cups and four all-star nods, Richmond’s Reid delivered a lighthearted yet poignant keynote address Thursday at the inaugural Richmond KidSport Building Community Champions fundraiser.
“I always thought I was the biggest kid in town because I was a big kid, but sports let me know I wasn’t the biggest,” said the former B.C. Lions’ offensive lineman, who at six-foot-one, 305 pounds was one of the smallest players at his position in pro football.
Reid was 10 years old and in Grade 5 at Vancouver College in the mid-1980s when his school scheduled a basketball game at Garden City Elementary. It was a game, Reid said, that would change his life.
“While I was the biggest kid I was also pretty athletic. Sport was pretty easy for me and I loved it. And basketball was my sport. I was Charles Barkley, minus the 36 inch vertical leap,” he said. “I figured this would be a pit stop on my way home.”
Reid was warming up with his Irish teammates, confident another victory was in store, when he lined up for the jump ball. Then out came a player bigger than himself.
“This guy’s T-shirt says ‘coach’ and I think, ‘real funny, the coach isn’t allowed to play.’ But no big deal, I kind of show up and we win,” said Reid. “But there’s Bobby (Singh), who I’m convinced is the coach, (dominating) for the rest of the game. This was the biggest man I’d ever seen in my life. We lost the game and I’d never lost a game in my life.”
Reid went home hoping his older brothers, who he idolized, would indulge him about how he and his teammates lost to “this huge guy.” Instead, they said, “What are you going to do about it?”
“I really loved sports but I realized then that just showing up wasn’t going to cut it anymore,” Reid said. “There’s always going to be someone bigger or better than you. I’ve never been the biggest guy again, but I learned that if you want something in life you’ve got to work and work at it. Sport is the greatest for teaching kids to put their heart and soul into something and to push themselves. And the neat thing about sport is it’s a safe environment to learn those lessons because you can fall and get back up again.”
Reid said he’s heartbroken to see that it’s becoming increasingly challenging for kids to get involved in sports for reasons that are real “but shouldn’t be why kids aren’t playing.”
“We’re here tonight to make sure any kid that needs that opportunity has it,” he said. “We’re not here to produce pro athletes or develop superstar players. If that happens, fantastic, but instead amateur sports should be about helping to develop strong, balanced and mature adults who understand how to get what they want in life. I achieved what i wanted to achieve, knowing I’ll never be the biggest kid in town.”