As you may have gathered by now, when I was at Guelph I skied. I wasn't very involved with the swim, bike, run community back then, but I was intrigued by the concept. Every time I mentioned triathlon in Guelph, it seemed as though a legendary character's name was brought up: Jazzy.
"Oh you're from Victoria, you must know Jazz. We miss him now that he's out in Victoria."
I had no idea it would or could ever happen, but someday I wanted to meet this legendary dude who by now, believe it or not, lived in my hometown of Victoria, BC. Starting with the NTC was a step in the right direction for meeting Jasper.
In my first season with NTC Jasper had just won Ironman Canada. The legend grew even stronger in my mind. He and fellow long course athlete Mike Neil trained with our group in the pool. I was always way too nervous to talk to them, after all, it would take all my strength just to make it through swim practice. The thought of introducing myself after missing nearly every pace time for the past 90 minutes was a little frightening.
It must have been fate because I don't know how else this could have happened: I found myself sitting with Jasper on his roof looking out over the Victoria Inner Harbour, talking life and adventures. Jasper was and is a soul that I was meant to meet and meant to learn from.
I looked up to Jasper so much, and I still do. To find myself sitting on the roof chatting with him honestly blew my mind. How could I be sitting on this roof talking to the legend himself?
Jasper was the first person I had met who encouraged me to be me. It sounds so cliche writing this out, but it's the truth. He seemed to appreciate and understand who I was and what sport meant to me. It was a time when I had just started to write, mostly a mix of metaphors and pace times. Whether or not the post made sense or not to anyone didn't matter. He didn't care. He just understood it was a process I needed to go through to understand my thoughts. He encouraged, while at the same time directed me growing as an athlete and as a person.
He was an incredible coach and is an amazing friend. The time and wisdom Jasper shared with me went way beyond triathlon, and that only added to the depth of the experience on race day. We had some awesome success together, and Jasper would be the first one to say that the numbers don't really matter. What matters was the process that Jasper encouraged me to embark on.
I would spend hours at a time meditating on Jaspers roof in the early morning hours and I will always remember something he told me, "Stevo, Life is your meditation."
This was and is one of the most profound things anyone has ever told me. It dives to the deepest depths and soars to the highest heights of what I'm trying to understand. I have contemplated this simple statement for 9 years now, and I could think about it for 90 more. Perhaps as a coach, he was trying to encourage me to spend more time sleeping and less time meditating, but I know there's more to it than that.
We spent hours and hours together, and whether it was searching for Jack Lake somewhere North of Sooke, running loops of the lake, or checking out the Tall Ships, I was always learning from Jazz. After a time like that, there's one thing that I know for certain, I will always be a student of Jasper's.
Jasper gave me so much and I will be forever grateful. I'll write a book one day, and maybe then I'll have enough space to fully share my appreciation. For now, all I can say is Thank you.