Just a quick note here on an experience I recently had.
I was fortunate enough to be able to set up a visit for my eleven year old son – a behind the scenes, after the game locker-room tour with the Toronto Marlies (the farm team for the Toronto Maple Leafs).
When we got into the dressing room, most of the players had already left. Only the Captain, Ryan Hamilton remained, and he took my son and two other boys around and showed them all the accoutrements of a pro hockey locker room. Now, it was fascinating stuff, to be sure – most of us have had fantasies of playing some kind of pro sport – but the really impressive part was how Ryan engaged with the kids. I mean, here’s a guy who may have a multi-million dollar career on his hands if he gets the nod to go upstairs to the Leafs (assuming there’s a season!). So what does he need with three eleven-year-olds traipsing around behind him when all he probably wants is to go home and ice his bruises? Well, I’ll tell you – this guy took all the time the kids needed, answered every question they had, and came across as entirely grateful that the kids were there to talk to him.
Quite simply, he had the courage to be small.
For me, that’s the mark of greatness. Whether Ryan Hamilton signs a ten million dollar contract or grinds it out in the farm system his whole career remains to be seen, but I’ll tell you this for free: he’s already earned my respect, and the adulation of at least three eleven year old boys.