What do you want to be when you grow up? Doesn’t it seem like when we were kids we heard that question all the time? At my elementary school everybody wanted to be an astronaut, doctor, firefighter and baseball star.
Not many of us grow up to do what we thought we would. Life has a way of getting in the way, pushing us in different directions, down different paths. But a funny thing about childhood dreams. They don’t ever die. They’re always there, often out of sight, but always in the back of our minds, waiting and wondering if we’ll ever return. And an interesting thing is beginning to happen. Many of us are returning to some of the things we loved as kids.
Terry Peterson fell in love with the unicycle when he was ten. Forty years later, he rediscovered it and has been having more fun than ever. That was eight years ago. Today, he’s one of the top extreme unicycle riders in the world. And he’s so popular that the younger riders have dubbed him The Unigeezer.
There are so many other examples: a high school band that got back together to play at their 40th reunion, a man who always dreamed of flying, and in his 50s finally decided to give it a try, and a woman who’s childhood fascination with birds of prey inspired her to create a full-time rehab center in her own backyard.
And it just happened for me! I was in 3rd grade when the St. Louis Blues hockey team was born. It was love at first sight. My cousin, Sandy took me to my first Blues game. The crowd was so vocal and so intense I was terrified! The game went into overtime. Exciting, right? Not for me! I was praying for it to end because I had to go to the bathroom, and I was too frightened to go by myself!!! But I just couldn’t get that game out of my mind. Before long I was stumbling around at the local outdoor rink trying to learn how to skate. Next, don’t tell my mom but I was strapping sofa cushions to my legs so I could play goalie. And my love for the game just kept escalating from there.
What do you want to be when you grow up? My fifth grade teacher assigned us to choose three potential careers, think of a list of questions about those jobs and send it by mail to someone in that business. About a month later, one saturday morning, my mom woke me up early. “Bill, there’s someone on the phone for you.” I dragged myself out of bed and said hello… to my idol!!! It was Dan Kelly, the Voice of the St. Louis Blues, calling to personally answer my questions!!!
Well, I never became a play-by-play announcer. I did come close, ending up as a local TV sports anchor, news anchor and feature reporter before jumping off to help create Growing Bolder. But that dream of settling into the broadcast booth high above the ice in a big, beautiful arena had passed me by. Until I got a phone call.
It was someone from the local minor pro hockey team. Their radio announcer was called away on a family emergency. Would I be interested in filling in? WHAT? That’s like the dream all guys have where the New York Yankees pick you out of the stands and ask you to pinch hit with the bases loaded and two outs in the bottom of the ninth!!! But they were really calling to ask ME!!! “Yes, yes, yes,” I wanted to scream! But remember what I said about life happening? The date of the game they wanted me to call, happened to be the same day as my 25th wedding anniversary! No, no, no!!! Fate can sometimes be cruel, pushing a fellow’s loves into a competition!!!
Fortunately, my bride of 25 years believes strongly in following your dreams, and is the most supportive person in my life. She jumped right up to celebrate, and wondered why I even hesitated!!!
Then, the fear set in. Could I do it? Who are the players? What are their numbers? What should I say?
Maybe it was enough just to be asked! Maybe I should just politely decline. But that’s not the Growing Bolder philosophy that I believe in and recommend to others every day on our national TV show. I decided to do it.
Next thing I knew, I was settling in behind the mic, ready to call the action!!! I called my cousin Sandy, the same one who took me to my very first game, and she listened over the internet from halfway across the country! That meant the world to me! My wife texted, “You sound awesome!” And that was all I needed! I had the time of my life!!!
I did play-by-play of a professional hockey game!!!
A few days later, I got another call. You can understand if these days I take a deep breath before I answer the phone! Could I do it again? Would I be interested to call the team’s first two PLAYOFF games???
Yes. Yes I would!!!
Have you ever lived your childhood dream? Take my advice, do EVERYTHING you can to make it happen. It’s the greatest feeling in the world!!!
*Gratitude Roll: Many thanks to my wife Mary for being my rock, the hockey team for the opportunity, Pro Hockey News scribe Donald Money Jr for his support and GB’s Marc Middleton who allowed me to slide out of work early to get there in time!!!