The Spitfires, as a group, are now in Windsor’s forefront after losing 4 straight to London, in the OHL playoffs, then having more than 40 days off prior to hosting the Memorial Cup. Now, after winning all the marbles, I want to take a few lines here personally.
It’s a beam of light being shot out to one of the team on a somewhat personal note.
As one gets older, we tend to become cynical in the way the world is viewed. I’m no exception to that. In covering the Spitfires for the last 2+ years, I’ve had to examine all the small nuances each players has, how they use them, and how they help to gel the players into a team.
I’m not a person to gush. It is not in my make up and I find it a somewhat useless part of human emotion. That said, I’m about to do a little gushing.
Week after week, month after month, game after game, and all that proceeds the games stands a man. Always first in line to hit the ice surface. He stands upright, then looking towards the heavens, down back to the floor, only to look back up again in this ritual fashion, game after game.
Never failing. As if he’s really having a heart to heart with all of his feelings and the universe.
There is no horse play. No high-fiving, no lets-go-get-em moments. Just him, his thoughts, and what he has to do and why he’s doing it.
I’m speaking of Micheal DiPietro. Our Mikey.
Having only spoken to Mike two or three times, of varying lengths, you can’t help but notice a peace about him. A kindness, a look, a feeling of when you speak, he’s listening to you.
The players around him seem to react to that calmness in a way which is almost infectious. He brings a lot more than net minding skills to the Spitfire club. He brings a focused point of calm and a feeling of knowing, “I’ve got your back.”
And it works.
Although a young man, Mike as has seen some adversity in his short years. I don’t, and the people around him don’t ever feel those times have ever defined who he was or who he’s become.
He’s taken what life has offered up and placed all he is and knows behind his love of God and family first, team second. The rest of him is who we know and see each game day as Mikey. A remarkable person in his own right.
But, his stats speak volumes in as much as who and how he applies his skill sets.
It is, in a word, remarkable.
All of this born and bread just 10 minutes from Windsor in Amherstburg. His Father and family have so much to be proud of in Mike. We as Windsorites have so much to be proud of in that he’s an ambassador for all things good in our crazy world.
He shows this to us with his school trips and hospital visits, never forgetting the people on the sidelines anticipating that touch of his glove or smile as he walks onto his stage for us and to give it all he has each and every game.
Even small kids in the seats stare out at him in awe during game play. You can see some of those kids locked in and fixated on every move Mike makes in the crease.
Never a foul word nor an unsportsmanlike gesture. Just a man of faith doing his job; really well.
I see this because I watch and photograph people. I see those tiny expressions others merely dismiss or miss entirely. All of those things never go unnoticed through my lens.
I told you at the outset how I don’t gush. I guess I’m flat busted here. Guilty.
I’ve waited to jot these thoughts down until the season ended so as never to show favor or a direct bias towards any person. But, with the season having now passed, and seeing all I’ve seen, it’s not really something someone should let pass without recognition.
It’s always such a great privilege to get to sit 20 feet from this man 40 minutes each game, and watch him perform his feats of magic, and allowing me to capture all of that, for years to come, in images. Thanks Mike.
Congratulations to all the Spitfire team; Coolsey, too.
And Mike, you’re going to make some NHL team very happy to have you in their room to bring that calm and faith into their lives soon enough.Then I can yell at you through the TV screen.
I’d tell you to never forget the little people, but that’s not something you’d do.