Rookies learn their place

BILLY POWERS

, Last Updated: 7:49 AM ET

On the wall of the Calgary Stampeders dressing room is a sign that reads in part: "Rookies are to be seen and not heard."

It was put up by equipment manager George Hopkins several years ago and taken down at the request of former head coach Tom Higgins but replaced with the arrival of John Hufnagel.

I witnessed first-hand the treatment the veterans gave the rookies last year when having a coolie with a few of the guys. The rookies are put through the grind to say the least and had better not complain. They learn from experience.

I go back even further in the treatment of rookies having once been asked to coach the Calgary Flames in an annual slow-pitch event in Niagara Falls, Ont. We had split our first two games and needed a 19-run Saturday afternoon win over Winnipeg's Jets to make the Sunday playoffs.

I had put my line-up together, but a thunderstorm hit just before game time, and during a four-hour delay -- and with Molson providing drinks free of charge -- one of my players over-imbibed.

A rookie at that time was Gary Roberts, and with my third-sacker soused, I told him he'd get the start at third. He seemed a little surprised. As I walked to the umpire to give him my line-up, Lanny McDonald asked to see it. When he saw I had scratched player X and inserted 'Robs,' he said: "Billy, rookies don't start."

I switched the names back to the original 10 veterans and remember Gary taking it very well. To finish the story, we did not win by 19 runs so didn't advance, but the tipsy third-sacker made four great plays in the infield and was 4-for-5 at the plate.

Rookies have to earn their way up the ladder.

WEATHERING THE STORM

It was not long ago we were crying the blues because of persistent rain that kept us all away from the golf course.

Good things come to those who wait, they say, and that's certainly the case right now.

I've played a lot of golf the past few weeks and can only report great things -- like Canyon Meadows and Willow Park have never been in better shape. From tee-box to green, it's as good as it gets.

Another stop was at Lost Hill just outside Eckville. New owners are making course changes for the better. It's now a fine test and in great shape.

Then there is the turnaround at Cottonwood. Things have just come together as the revamped club hosted the ATB Financial Classic.

At Sirocco, conditions have changed a bunch. The layout is in magnificent shape with greens that are nearly perfect. I was impressed with the multi-million-dollar clubhouse that offers patios with amazing views of the course, the city and the mountains.

ROWE HONOURED WITH PRO-AM

A tournament to mark the passing of long-time Willow Park and Fairmont Mountainside pro Lorne Rowe has been established. The first annual pro-am, with proceeds to the Canadian Diabetes Association, goes Aug. 25 at Mountainside. For info, call Tom Hardie at (250) 345-6514.


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