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Saturday, November 20, 2010

Game Day, written by Kevin Sylvester. Annick Press, 2010. $12.95 ages 10 and up

"People have no idea how much the
guy on the Zamboni does. For one
thing, you don't just resurface the
ice, which is an art; you are also in
charge of the whole ice-making side
of the rink operations. You keep the
cooling unit running, the Zamboni
running. Even with my experience I
needed to go to school. You have
 to study to get certified as an ice
technician. It's complicated work."
         -Jimmy MacNeil, Zamboni driver

In keeping with a sports theme for today, I want to tell you about a new book by Kevin Sylvester. Kevin is an illustrator, a broadcaster, and an author. He is also a researcher and in writing this book, he interviewed twenty people whose jobs take place behind the scenes and contribute enormously to our enjoyment of the sports we love. Were it not for them, we might not be so familiar with the athletes we admire.
Each chapter gives us a glimpse at the life led by someone we are not likely to meet or know in any other circumstance. They are the unsung heroes.  They are the groundskeepers, the camera operators, the mascots, and the reporters. They are agents to the players. They schedule games for leagues and timekeep official games. They choreograph skating programs that leave us in awe. They provide music, keep the ice clean, referee, train horses and keep athletes strong and healthy. Without them, athletes and fans would be less likely to spend our time together.

Meet Bobby Freeman:

"I watch to see if the umpire has signaled to the bat boy for more baseballs. It means he doesn't have any left to replace the balls that go into the crowd or get scuffed. From experience I know that if the batter hits a foul ball, there will be a twenty-five second pause while those new baseballs are delivered. That's when I can play a good long rally chant."

Bobby is the organist for the Arizona Diamondbacks.

And then there's Marc Rizzardo:

"You often handle everything from nutrition to psychotherapy. You work out a menu plan and order the food, then you do the pre-game warm-ups, the pre-game massages, and you also talk to the players to make sure they are in a positive frame of mind for the game."

Marc is the chief physiotherapist for the Canadian women's soccer team.

It is a varied group whose jobs are as different as they are. But, their continued commitment to the sport they represent sets them apart from others. In the final entry, Kevin Sylvester talks about the fan. If you are a fan of a sport and you dream big, you might find your future in the stories represented here.

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