EVERYTHING I KNOW ABOUT FAN APPRECIATION I LEARNED FROM A BOX OF MARS BARS

by Angus Reid | October 24th, 2017

Ron Putzi celebrates after winning the 1988 BC Boys Basketball Championship with the Richmond Colts

We all had heroes growing up. People we could look up to, admire and strive to be like. They hopefully set an example for what we could achieve, but more importantly how we should act and behave. If you were lucky, you had such a hero. Someone who not only excelled at your given but went above and beyond when the simple acts of class and appreciation were called upon.

I had such a hero. He not only inspired me to achieve greatness in my but more importantly how to appreciate all the fans and supporters with true sincerity.

My hero was Ron Putzi.

Growing up in Richmond in the late eighties basketball was king. Richmond High had built a powerhouse so strong that the entire city had become captivated by the sport. Each new season produced another star, but in 1988 one just seemed to shine brighter than them all.

Ron was a senior, the same as two of my older brothers Malcolm and John.

We all had heroes growing up. People we could look up to, admire and strive to be like. They hopefully set an example for what we could achieve, but more importantly how we should act and behave. If you were lucky, you had such a hero. Someone who not only excelled at your given but went above and beyond when the simple acts of class and appreciation were called upon.

I had such a hero. He not only inspired me to achieve greatness in my but more importantly how to appreciate all the fans and supporters with true sincerity.

My hero was Ron Putzi.

Growing up in Richmond in the late eighties basketball was king. Richmond High had built a powerhouse so strong that the entire city had become captivated by the sport. Each new season produced another star, but in 1988 one just seemed to shine brighter than them all.

Ron was a senior, the same as two of my older brothers Malcolm and John.

They both played senior basketball too, however, the Reid boys all went to Vancouver College, the Catholic boys school in Vancouver.

Richmond was on their way to repeating as provincial BC Boys Basketball champs, a feat that hadn’t been accomplished since Oak Bay in ’73, ’74. That 1988 team has now gone down in history as perhaps BC’s greatest ever. Ron was also on his way to winning provincial MVP and having his pick of which NCAA school he’d like to accept a scholarship from.

Ron was the man. You’re talking about a guy who put up 61 points against my Fighting Irish. He could shoot, block shots, drive to the hoop and more impressively for this 11-year-old, he could dunk on anyone.

He was everything I wanted to be like on the court. What I didn’t know yet was, he was also everything I wanted to be like off it.

I had never met Ron, but my brothers knew him well enough. Richmond was a small town them and the high school basketball world was pretty tight. knowing someone ‘well enough’ though and asking them to come over to your house to meet your little brother who worships and drew a picture for you are two very different things. But that’s exactly what I begged my brother Malcolm to do.

You see when I was 11, there were 2 things I thought I was pretty good at. Basketball, and drawing. So when I wasn’t thinking I was Charles Barkley on the court, I was inside drawing my heroes. This time though, my hero lived in Richmond, and this time, I had a way to get it to him.

A masterpiece through my 11-year-old eyes

I had finished what I believed at 11 years old to be my masterpiece. My artistic tribute to a hometown star. Really it was a relatively simple cartoon character of Ron I’d drawn in ink on one of those oversized cardboard sheets you get at the drugstore. Looking back now, for an 11-year-old, it was OK. Not exactly the thing your older brother is dying to ask a guy out of the blue to come over and get from you. But Malcolm did. He knew what it meant to me to give my hero a gift. To do what I could for a guy who unknowingly gave me so much inspiration.

I could only imagine what Ron was thinking coming over to a family house he had never been to before, to meet a chubby 11-year-old he didn’t know, to receive a cartoon sketch of himself on an oversized piece of cardboard. But Ron because that’s the kind of guy he is. Right in the middle of deciding which NCAA school to accept a scholarship from, he came, because an 11-year-old fan asked if he would.

I’ll never forget Ron coming into the house. It would have been no better if Michael Jordan himself had walked through those doors. Ron was king, and the king was coming to see me. Right away he gave me all his attention. He asked questions about my likes and dislikes, what I wanted to do when I grew up, and what I’m up to now. I know it sounds corny, but I knew he was truly interested. Even at 11, you can tell when someone actually cares, or are just saying what they think they should. He wouldn’t even give me a chance to give him the picture, he was too busy getting to know me. Finally, I had to stop him, I HAD to present his gift. I had never been more scared in my life. What if he didn’t like it? What if he laughed? I felt a terror deep inside like I had just made a horrible mistake. A mistake that in the mind of an 11-year-old may ruin my life forever.

His reaction was one of the most pleasing sites my young eyes had ever seen. My hero looked to be speechless in response to my gift to him. The fact that he actually looked impressed with what I had done, gave me confidence that would last a lifetime. Then something strange happened, he looked up as if he remembered something, and quickly said he had to go. There was somewhere he forgot he needed to be. This was totally understandable as he had already spent close to our hour with me. Even so, the quick exit upon receiving my drawing left me wondering if I had somehow let my hero down.

Ron left the same way he entered, with a warm smile and an added thank you. It was probably more than I could have ever hoped for, and for a it seemed, that was that.

Really that’s about all you could ever ask of an 18-year-old superstar. It’s what happened next though that made Ron Putzi truly special and made him an example that I have always tried my hardest to live up to.

He returned twenty minutes later unannounced and carrying something. He looked almost embarrassed. We sat again and Ron apologized for the quick exit. He then handed me a full box of just purchased Mars Bars. This may sound bizarre, but for an 18-year-old looking to do something for hungry 11-year-old, in 1988, a box of Mars Bars was a gift from chocolate heaven. To me though, it wasn’t about the bars. It was the fact that here’s a teenage star, who understood the power of his influence over a young fan and decided to go so far above and beyond the call of kindness that it literally shaped my entire future. He stayed for another hour or so and we each ate a Mars bar and continued chatting like we were old friends. It’s an afternoon in my life that I will NEVER forget.

Ron understood that to be great at what you do does not put you above others. If anything it gives you the opportunity to show more kindness given the platform you have. We only are what we are because of everyone around us. Kindness returns , and heroes set examples. We just hope our heroes understand this and choose to set examples that we all want today’s youth to follow. A box of Mars Bars may not always be the best go-to for today’s youth but the act of going that extra mile with sincerity will still make all the difference in the world.

With Ron and Geroy Simon at a recent dinner event – still good friends today

I may never have achieved the type of sports stardom that Ron did, and that’s ok. What I have always cared about more though was trying to live the example Ron talk me. Everyone is special, no matter how young or seemingly insignificant he or she may seem to you. If they deem you important to them, then that should make them important to you. People are individuals and deserve your individual attention. Most importantly though, try to give more than you receive. Go that extra step. That’s where lives can be changed and impressions left for a lifetime. It doesn’t necessarily take a box of Mars Bars, but that doesn’t hurt 😉

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

VIA: http://www.angusreid64.com/Blog.php/everything-i-know-about-fan-appreciation-i-learned-from-a-box-of-mars-bars

Picture Courtesy of the BC Lions

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