"When you do a thing, do it with all your might. Put your whole soul into it. Stamp it with your own personality. Be active, be energetic, be enthusiastic and faithful, and you will accomplish your object. Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm."
- American philosopher Ralph Waldo Emerson
There's a lot of tittle-tattle in Whistler. Gossip, chatter, natter, babble, blather, drivel... call it what you will. Like any small town over endowed with people who have too much free time on their hands, this place virtually pullulates with rumor and innuendo.
Take the stories going 'round about the proponents for the Whistler International Campus project (colloquially known as Whistler U). They're all carpetbaggers, go the tales. They're here to gouge their pound of real estate flesh from us poor locals.
Besides, goes the current line, these WIC guys are masters of smoke and mirrors: their campaign to establish a post-secondary facility in the valley is really all about bed-unit allocations and getting more concessions than they deserve. They're just greedy developers... same as all the others who paved over our little corner of paradise. So screw 'em. We don't need their kind here anymore.
But hang on a minute. Is that really what's going on here? Being the fundamental contrarian that I am, I simply couldn't swallow the current line. So I decided to find out for myself. Here's what I discovered:
There's nothing remotely slick or smooth about Doug Player. A self-avowed education nerd, WIC's project leader reminded me more of an avuncular uncle than a Donald Trump wannabe. As for his teaching credentials and personal roots in Whistler and B.C... Hmmm, how could I put this? You couldn't find a guy with more integrity if you tried.
Look, I'm as skeptical about new Whistler projects as the next person. And I certainly don't support raising the bed-unit ceiling here... for any reason. Still, it would be a huge mistake for us to dismiss Dr. Player (he earned a doctorate in educational leadership in 1996) and what he brings to this community.
So feel free to take the following words with a grain of salt. And remember: this isn't a promo piece for Whistler International Campus — I'm confident you can decide for yourself whether or not their proposal offers a workable model for this place. I'm way more interested in telling you the story of a man who started from modest circumstances and accomplished a heck of a lot in the near-seven decades he's been around.
"I'm a B.C. boy from head-to-toe," says the 68-year old proudly. "I was born and raised in Trail, right on the banks of the Columbia River." He laughs. "And sports — mostly team sports — were really big there while I was growing up. You know, hockey, basketball, baseball..." He sighs. "But I wasn't allowed to participate."
Say what? "It's a crazy story," he says. He laughs some more. "It happened during a Little League baseball game. I was probably 12 at the time." He stops. Lets a few beats go by. "I was playing in the outfield, you know, when the other team's batter hit a ball in my direction. But instead of using my hands to catch it, I used my face..."
It must have been quite a hit. For the resulting impact shattered Doug's upper jaw and sent him to the hospital for numerous repairs. But it was the school board's over-the-top response to the accident that really altered the youngster's life. "I guess they were worried about liability issues," he says. "But they never really explained their decision. They just banned me from physical education."