Published on May 07, 2012
Some of the boys who play for The Ryder Cup in Bonavista each day after school are (front row, from left) Mark Butler, Jordan Clements, Brent Monks, Ethan Street, Nicholas Abbott, Kristian Stagg and Dustin Ford-Moody, and (back row from left) Mark Abbott, Andrew Smith, Brad Paul, Riley Lane and Matthew Stagg. — Photo by Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
Published on May 05, 2012
The winning team gets its name written on the Ryder Cup, along with names of team members, as the pursuit of the Ryder Cup continues each day after school in Bonavista. - Photo by Glen Whiffen/The Telegram
The Ryder Cup is a coveted after-school treasure
The Stanley Cup may have come to Bonavista last summer, and gone, but what the trophy means to hockey - the spirit of competition, the drive to be the best and the love of the game - remains.
In fact, a group of students from Grades 7-9 in Bonavista have created their own version of Lord Stanley's famous trophy. They call it the "Ryder Cup," and after school each day play hard for it in sneakers, sweatshirts and T-shirts, chasing a small ball and big dreams on an empty parking lot in town.
The winning team members - like the guys in the big league - get their names written on the cup.
The Ryder Cup is a crude combination of a large beef bucket, a flower pot and some plates, taped together and covered in crumpled sheets of tin foil.
Its handlers don't wear white gloves, there's no protective case for its transportation. It gets tossed into the back of a van and carried under an arm sometimes. It sags to one side when stood on the faded, grey asphalt that is the arena.
Still, to the boys who play for it, it's worth everything.
Brent Monks, a Grade 9 student at Discovery Collegiate, made the cup in his basement, taking all of his mother's tinfoil from the cupboard, and then buying some more.
"We always play, but we thought it would be good to have something to play for," Brent said. "When you play for something it makes you work harder to try to win.
"Whoever wins each day gets to lift the cup and I take the cup home and write the team's name, the date and the names of the players on it."
The Ryder Cup takes a few more tumbles than the Stanley Cup, particularly if there is a good breeze of wind coming in off the Atlantic. It tears and its parts shift, rather than the occasional denting the real cup gets, but it's raised high in triumph after the final clenched-fist-pumping goal.
And they raise it to the sky like NHLer Michael Ryder did last summer when he brought the Stanley Cup home to Bonavista.
That was an unforgettable experience for these boys.
"It was an excellent feeling seeing Michael Ryder lift the cup last year before all the crowd," Brent said.
Playing for the Ryder Cup began early last month after most of the boys finished their minor hockey provincial Easter tournaments. Many of them had dyed their hair for those games and still sport the bright blond and orange colours as they race around the parking lot trying to net a goal.
The lot the games are played on once housed businesses owned by another Bonavista Ryder - Calvin Ryder.
"So, the cup's name is really a mixture of Michael Ryder winning the cup and where we play," noted Brent.
Each day, the 15 or so kids involved pick four teams of three to four players each and a goalie. They play a round-robin season, each team playing the other teams once. The playoffs begin with the top team playing the fourth-place team, while the second and third teams square off.
The two winning teams then play the big game for the cup.
The next day, the drive for the cup starts all over again.
"One day, Brent didn't get home for supper and I started calling the other parents to see if their boys were home, and it was the same thing," said Brent's mother, Brenda. "What we soon found out was the final game for the cup went into double overtime and none of them were leaving until it was settled."
Brenda says the boys take hockey seriously, even hiring out Cabot Stadium or a gym for their birthday parties - a game of hockey followed by pizza and cake.
"They can't get enough of it," Brenda said. "It's exercise and we know where they are, so it works out good for the parents, as well."
And if you think playing for a tinfoil-covered beef bucket on a parking lot in Bonavista is a far stretch from making the NHL, don't say that to Bonavista's two current NHLers, Michael Ryder and Adam Pardy, both members of the Dallas Stars.
In fact, as a kid growing up in Bonavista, Michael Ryder constructed a cup similar to Brent Monk's Ryder Cup.
Michael Ryder's cup was made out of buckets and tin foil and one of his grandmother's bowls, according to Ryder's father, Wayne.
Meanwhile, the games for the Ryder Cup near the main road in Bonavista will likely continue through the summer and into the fall, until its time once again to trade in sneakers and a rubber ball for hockey skates and a puck.