Morning Star memories

I’ve been at The Morning Star for about a year now and after some recent events, I think it’s time to create Tyler’s Top Events/People Met list.

Okay, so right now it’s just a top eight, but the list will continue to evolve as my career does. Not just any assignment gets to make the list,  I need to have standards or else this column is meaningless.

THE CRITERIA:

The event has to be awesome. The more awesomer, the better.

  1. Bull-A-Rama.

The snow just melted and it wasn’t quite warm enough to ditch the sneakers for flip-flops. I got sent on assignment to cover Bull-A-Rama, a bull riding event 15 minutes outside of town.

It was literally my first rodeo, for work. It took place on Westside Road at Coyote Creek Ranch.

All I needed to do was get two or three quality photos, but I ended up staying for the whole three hours of bone-jarring bull riding.

Thirty bull riders from B.C., Canada, the U.S. and Australia saddled up with a chance to win a spiffy belt buckle and a good hunk of cash.

What I witnessed and caught on camera was spectacular. The bulls were violent and the cowboys tough as nails.

What made the event so incredible was how close the fans were to the arena. People were basically inside the ring and I was dangling over the boards, holding onto my camera, taking some sweet shots.

They also displayed the nuttiest halftime show I’ve ever seen, the Ring of Fire.

It was a game of chicken taken too far.

They grabbed four or five contestants (most weren’t sober) and painted a circle in the ring for them to stand in. They let a raging bull loose and the last one standing in the circle won a couple bucks and bragging rights for life.

  1. The Newsroom.

Okay, this one might not be an event or a person that I covered, but the best part of the job is honestly working with the great people in the newsroom.

Work is so much more enjoyable when you wake up and you don’t hate your life. I have been so lucky to be welcomed into the newsroom with these vets. Some of them have been working there longer than I have been alive!!

I’m not going to go on forever about how much I love my job because I wrote a column about it last fall. But, I LOVE MY JOB!!!

  1. Tuesday night North Okanagan Women’s Soccer Association league games.

PSSSSSYYCCHHHH!!!!

  1. Mick Foley.

Growing up, I wasn’t as into wrestling as some of my friends. My parents didn’t want me watching a fake sport.

I still don’t agree with their logic. I just watched Jurassic World, and I’m almost positive those dinosaurs were fake, but I still enjoyed it.

People need to get over that foolish line of thinking. Yes, we all know wrestling is fake, but who cares? It’s entertaining.

So occasionally I would catch Monday Night Raw when my parents weren’t around. I knew enough to know who the big timers were.

Mick Foley was a big timer and he was touring Western Canada when I got the chance to meet him.

He was wearing Santa Claus clothes and doing his one-man show, Hardcore Legend: An Evening With Mick Foley. It was a wrestling talk show with stories from his glory days in the ring.

I knew who he was; I’ve seen the highlight of him getting thrown off the top of a steel cage by the Undertaker several times. The dude is a living legend.

I got to spend some one-on-one time with his human state – not Mankind, Dude Love or Cactus Jack, thankfully – promoting his show and getting to know him. He was the first entertainment icon I got to meet and such a cool and interesting guy.

  1. RBC Cup.

I thought I might put this higher on my list, but if I’m being honest with you guys, I had no idea what the RBC Cup was before I started working here.

Don’t hate me Canada.

I grew up in Calgary and didn’t pay any attention to Junior A hockey. In Kamloops, where I went for university, the WHL Blazers dominated the attention of the town.

I remember in my job interview they told me that the town was hosting the RBC Cup. I pretended like I knew what they were talking about because I really wanted the job.

The RBC Cup was the biggest surprise of my job so far. I had no idea how much the community cared and clung to every game from the hometown Vernon Vipers. The crew that organized the tournament did a great job.

It was truly a great tournament. All the games were exciting, great goaltending and the hometown squad had a good run at the trophy.

People came from all over Canada to take it in. TSN even ran the final. It was a very cool event and I was very proud to be a part of it.

  1. Meeting NHL players.

This was the inspiration for this column.

Last Thursday, 44 current and former NHL players gathered in the sweltering heat at Predator Ridge Golf Resort for the 23rd annual National Hockey League Players’ Association charity gold classic.

I was in heaven.

All my life I grew up idolizing professional athletes. At one point in my youth I wanted to be the Canadian version of Bo Jackson; I wanted to play hockey in the winter and baseball in the summer.

I’ve always been kind of star-struck by professional athletes. All those years of watching them on TV made them seem God-like.

It all started in Grade 2 when a city-wide reading competition allowed me to meet three Calgary Flames.

The contest was, read as much as you can in a month and get rewarded with a bookmark with a different Flames player on it.

One day after the competition ended, Denis Gauthier, Robyn Regehr and Jerome Iginla came to my school and I got all three of their autographs. It was the highlight of my year.

I got to chat it up with Shane Doan, Curtis Lazar, Scott Hartnell, Kelly Hrudey, Shea Weber, Luke Schenn, Andrew Ference and Devan Dubnyk.

I could have stayed there for hours and talked to them about all the ins and outs of the NHL.

Sometimes it’s tough to remember that you are there for work and not there for fantasy hockey insider tips.

  1. Game 7 overtime win.

The third-seeded Vernon Vipers trailed 3-1 in the third period of Game 7 in front of an unruly crowd, imposed their will and wound up in a dogpile, celebrating a series win for the ages.

The Vipers already had their ticket punched to the RBC Cup when the season started but that didn’t take any drama away from their playoff run.

They played top-ranked Penticton Vees in the Interior Division final. The Vees were faster, more skilled and had a loaded team.

The Vees edged the Vipers 2-0 Game 6 to force Game 7 at home.

The Vipers trailed 3-1 in the third period, on the road in front of a deafening crowd.

They managed to force overtime and won three minutes into the sudden death frame.

I remember being over-the-moon excited for them. The game was an all-timer.

I texted my sports editor, Kevin Mitchell, immediately after the game and thanked him for hiring me.

It is on my top-five live sports game list. Maybe that’s my next column idea.

  1. Dutchy.

Sportscentre for me, predates shows like Pokemon, Full House and The Flinestones.

I don’t remember when or how it started, but Sportscentre has been the most important show of my life.

I don’t remember a time when Darren Dutchyshen wasn’t sitting behind the desk. He has been delivering the highlights since 1995.

Last summer he took some time off work during the MLB All-Star break and visited Vernon.

He was in town for a few days to check out the beautiful lakes and do some golfing with his brother-in-law.

I got the chance to go meet him while he was having lunch one day.

I haven’t had the butterflies in my stomach like that since girls started developing in Grade 7. I was literally shaking in his presence. I have watched on TV for the past two decades.

He was everything I imagined he would be.

I made sure not to disturb his meal, but when he got up, I introduced myself and we just hung out.

He gave me a little career advice and we talked PGA and the Toronto Blue Jays.

The one thing I’ll never forget is how his voice sounded. Listening to him talk was like I was watching Sportscentre right in front of my face.

  1. Skydiving.

I don’t know if anything will ever top this one.

I recently just blogged about this and wrote a news article for the paper, so I’m not going to extrapolate on this one.

Skydiving is the coolest/toughest/gnarliest/most insane/ballsiest/craziest thing a person can do.

If you haven’t gone by know, you’re simply wasting your time.

This has been the best job I’ve ever had. I never knew how amazing the perks were going to be. I might not make a $1,000,000 doing this, but who cares, I’m having the time of my life.

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