LCI Rams 1958 – 61: Reunion, August 13, 2011

Comments by Tom Sindlinger


50 years ago…

50 years ago, teenage boys played LCI Ram football and basketball.

Now, more than half a century later, we’re reminiscing about those championship teams.

I had a chance to do some reminiscing with Coach Whitelaw and a few team members.  They were talking about plays and players, and I wondered what they would say about me.  This was important, because I was beginning to see some doubt on my children and grand children’s faces about the stories I had been telling them over the years.  How, in order to save our undefeated football season, I threw a 50 yard pass, and then ran down the field and caught it, to score the winning touchdown.

And to win the Alberta basketball championship, I scored a buzzer beater from half court, while being triple teamed — and two of them were my own team mates!

So whatever the Coach had to say would have third party, independent credibility.  Finally, he looked at me, and I thought, ‘oh boy, this is it’, as he said “Tom, you were a fine gentleman”.  That was it, after all my embellished stories to my children and grandchildren about being a great high school athlete, all I could be was a ‘gentleman’!


Some lessons learned…

Anyway, like each of you, I have many memories of those high school teams and how they affected my life, and I’d like to relate three to you, before calling my last play as an LCI Ram.  The three are the play, the person, and the People…

1) The play: Decisions have risks and rewards…

It was third down and twenty yards to go.  Coach Whitelaw sent in our punter, Don Hughes.  Being the bright young quarterback I was, I instead called a pass play.  Fortunately for me, it was Don Hughes who caught the ball for the first down.


I felt pretty good about that as I headed back to the huddle, but when I got there, the rookie back-up quarterback, Doug Bowie, was in my place.  He motioned me off, and I ran to the sideline thinking that Coach Whitelaw wanted to say “Good pass Tom”. 


However, he studiously ignored me, looking the other way.  Thinking he hadn’t noticed me, I stepped to his other side, where upon he turned and looked to where I had just been.  Being the bright young quarterback I was, I got the message and sat down.  For the rest of game.

Doug Bowie was considerate enough to explain to me later, that when it is third and twenty on your own ten yard line and the Coach sends in the punter, you punt, not pass.

2) The person: Give it all you got, regardless of the odds…

Blair McNabb was not only the smallest guy on the football team.  He was the smallest guy in LCI.  He was only 120 pounds, yet he was playing defensive tackle, if you can imagine that.

It didn’t matter who he lined up against in practice or a game, he was always the smallest.  But he was always the toughest.  He always inspired, giving it all he had, regardless of the odds.


3) The People: Recognize and respect the other point of view

Early in my career, I was having dinner in Japan with the elderly vice president of Tokyo Marine, at the time the largest petro-chemical shipper in the world.  In conversation, I was lauding the beauty of the Lethbridge Japanese Gardens.  After a pause, Mr. Hagimori said “Mr. Sindlinger, how did these gardens come to be in Lethbridge?”

Of course we both knew, but I hadn’t thought about it until he asked the question.  There was an embarrassing silence, until he simply said “It was the War”, and we moved on.  But I thought of that moment much that evening, and indeed, the rest of my life.  My Father and Father-in-law had both been in uniform.  So had three uncles and two aunts.  My Grandfather had too.  So it wasn’t that I was not aware.

But I thought of two of our teammates:  Dick Yamamoto, the hardest quietest working person on the team; and, Roy Adachi, who always had a smile for everyone.  Certainly, they had relatives who had been uprooted and displaced.  Yet they comported themselves with the greatest grace and dignity.


So three stories from my Ram days that taught that:

  1. Decisions have risks and rewards;
  2. Give it all you’ve got, regardless of the odds; and
  3. Recognize and respect the other point of view.

My last call as an LCI Ram…

Although we all have our own different stories, we have one thing in common; one person — and that is Mr. Jim Whitelaw.  He created the environment; developed the programs; nurtured the culture; instilled the discipline; and, inspired the spirit.  Mr. Whitelaw was a wonderful teacher; a great coach.

So, if you will permit me please, I’ll now call my last play as an LCI Ram quarterback and captain.  Before you leave this room, go up to Mr. Whitelaw and shake his hand.  And while you are doing that, look him in the eye and say ‘thank you, Mr. Whitelaw.  Thank you very, very much!