Piers honoured to be running with Olympic torch
TRURO - A boy who grew up playing sports for the love of the game will carry the Olympic torch into Truro next month.
Bob Piers will receive the torch at Park Road just before 7 p.m. on Nov. 17 and run with it for about 300 metres to light the cauldron to celebrate the Olympic torch's travel through Colchester County on its way to Vancouver for the 2010 Games.
"It's unbelievable, really," Piers told the Truro Daily News yesterday.
"I was pretty honoured when I heard they selected me."
Piers is well known in the sporting community in Colchester County and Nova Scotia, having excelled as both an athlete and a coach.
Piers said his love for sports began as a five year old growing up on Edward Street. He would hit balls around the tennis court or be in the backyard playing catch or baseball.
"I was never really pushed to play sports, it was something I did because I really like doing it," Piers shared.
And there was a group in the neighbourhood that shared his love for sports. Piers and his best friend Ron Smith were able to play sports with older guys like Jed Ritcey and Dale Sproule.
"We used to play baseball and ground hockey and football. We just went from season to season playing with those guys," he recalled.
A three-time national tennis champion as a teenager, Piers was part of Canadian teams that went to play regional teams in the United States on two separate occasions.
"They used to play the national anthem before you went on the court. There's nothing like that," he said.
"It was special, so how much more special would it be to represent your country at the Olympics?"
Piers went on to star with the University of New Brunswick basketball team, being named the university's male athlete of the year in 1966. After graduating with his teaching degree, Piers was hired in Middleton, N.S. and took on coaching everything from badminton and rugby to basketball and volleyball.
He was hired at Cobequid Educational Centre in 1975 and went on to coach boys' basketball, volleyball and track and field as well as girls' basketball and volleyball.
"Coaching is sort of special because you're helping other people," Piers said.
The girls' volleyball program is a provincial powerhouse, having captured 10 championships in the last 13 years, including a string of seven in a row from 1998-99 to 2004-05.
"The work I have done with teams over the years in Truro, and the work I've done as a sports administrator in the community, I've done because I've enjoyed doing it," he said.
Many former players sing Piers' praise and it's not all about sport either.
"The value of hard work, being prepared and giving back are lessons I learned from Bob and lessons I try to instill in every student-athlete I come in contact with," John Richard, University of New Brunswick women's volleyball coach, wrote in a letter to the editor to this paper last December.
Truro Mayor Bill Mills, who chairs the local organizing committee, said Piers was selected from a group of deserving nominees.
"Bob is the epitome of what it means to be a sport individual: dedication, commitment, hard work," he said. "He takes people and mould them into champions."