Lewis Page has had a storied career in soccer as both a player and a coach. I first met him back in 1991 when he played for the Nova Scotia Clippers in the CSL. I don’t know why or how, but some Dartmouth United youth players were lucky enough to be ball boys at these games. We could watch the players warm up, be around them and learn. Of course, to an 11 or 12 year old kid I didn’t realize that’s what was going on. I was just enjoying the crowd, the smell of the pitch, the sounds of “I’ve Been Thinking About You” by Londonbeat blaring out of the Beazley Field sound system. It was a good time.
I didn’t appreciate the actual skill of the players and the league in general back then but when some of these players started running extra skills sessions for us during the summer weeks, it was pretty darn cool. Looking at the roster now and seeing where these guys came from and ended up, it was an excellent opportunity for us.
Lewis Page was one of these players. I don’t remember exactly when we met, or exactly what kind of training set up it was. I’m going strictly off memory here, and I’m sure some of it is skewed. But without fact checking to confirm or twist memories, it’s a more honest account of the impact he had on me. I don’t remember if it was two months or two years they spent with us. I just know I remember, and that says something.
I liked a lot of the concepts he was teaching us about soccer, but what impressed me the most is the passion he portrayed. No matter the weather or the attitude of the players, he always seemed like he wanted to be there. Somehow with a group of twenty or so players, sometimes more, I always felt like he noticed what I was doing, what I needed to work on. He made me want to be there too, and he made me want to come back the next time.
I was always competitive as a person, but really to that point I liked playing soccer as a game. Seeing what he and the others started bringing, Lewis helped me begin to love soccer as a sport, and it’s a love I have to this day.
I have no idea when he left for PEI, but I do remember having to play against Lewis Page coached teams. He really put his own personal stamp on things. I don’t remember how old I was, perhaps 14, but we were over there playing in a selects team tournament. Our Nova Scotia provincial squad against Lewis’s offering from the Island. Maybe I’m wrong, but in my memory we must have had about 85% of the possession that game, yet there was no panic from their team at all. They even won the game, maybe it was 3-2. Here’s the amazing thing I took away from that. Even when I was playing against his side, I still learned from him. I noticed how he carried himself on the sideline. You could tell there was a fire, but there was control. After the game, shaking his hand, I don’t know what it was, if it was his expression or something he said, but I walked away from that feeling like whatever happened on that field was a success. Like we had been part of something. He wasn’t even my coach.
Fast forward to this year. Just a few months ago. I hadn’t seen him since the mid ’90’s, and I happened to see his UPEI men’s team at Masstown Market on the way to a game. There he stood, looking exactly the same, asking me questions about my family and what I’m up to. Now, I’m not very good at small talk at all. In fact, I’m terrible at it. I usually avoid it. He was walking to the bus and I could have easily skipped out. Yet I felt compelled to go out of my way to get his attention and shake his hand and say hi. That’s the impact he had on me.
Just a short time later, this video of Lewis surfaced. It’s a brave statement from a person I’ve always respected. Not surprisingly based on how little I really know him, I had no idea about his personal story. I’m sure has no idea the bit he’s managed to write in mine. On this Bell Let’s Talk Day, I thought it only fitting to share his story again.