Local hockey coach and executive writes book on sport’s life lessons



By Ron Giofu


Greg Crain sees many ways where the sport of hockey can provide life lessons.

To illustrate his point, the Amherstburg resident has penned a new book entitled “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey.”

“What it is is my life in hockey,” Crain explained.

Crain’s days as a young player to working his way up the coaching ranks, including stops at the AAA, Jr. C and Jr. B levels, and now as the vice president of travel with the Amherstburg Minor Hockey Association (AMHA) are chronicled. However, he shares stories about his experiences and how they have shaped young athletes into becoming better people.

“The skills you learn in hockey are life skills,” he said. “That’s why they are the ‘parallels of life’.”

Being a good teammate can translate into an office or factory setting, Crain stated, as can competitive spirit.

“You learn how to compete. Hockey is a competition and life is a competition. You are always trying to better yourself,” he said.

Crain continued: “Practising hockey is like studying for school. If you practise well, it will show in a game. If you don’t study well, it’s not going to lead to a good test result.”

Greg Crain holds a draft copy of his book “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey” that is being released in December.

The book, which will be released Dec. 7, also features portions which focus on dealing with adversity. Hockey can also prepare people for the real world in other ways, he added.

“You learn from a coach and do what the coach tells you to do,” said Crain. “In life, you are going to have a boss you have to answer to.”

Hockey also teaches players on how to give back, and that translates into their lives going forward, he added. Volunteers give up nights and weekends to coach teams and do other things and sports are a way young people learn about how important it is to be involved in the community.

“You hope players learn the skills of volunteerism,” he said.

Many of his former players are now giving back, Crain stated.

“They’ve now learned to be coaches,” he said. “It’s come full circle in many ways.”

Crain also scouted for the OHL’s Barrie Colts but left scouting in 2002, between the births of his two sons Linden and Nolan. The boys now see him talking to former players and ask who they are, with Crain adding his role in AMHA also has him sharing experiences and advice. That led to him writing the book.

“Finally, I said I’m going to chronicle what I’ve done in hockey,” he said.

Crain spent over two years writing in a journal and dictating into his phone and ended up producing a 90,000-word book that is about 200 pages. He also goes over other facets of the game, from dealing with parents to his views on concussions and much more, and said he has received a lot of support in the close family of hockey. He is also working with the firm Client Solution Innovations to help him produce the book. It will be available through Amazon but more details still have to be ironed out before its December release.

“Hockey is so important to a community. It’s an awesome thing,” said Crain. “I think Amherstburg is an awesome community for hockey.”

While Crain has taught hockey skills, he hopes the life skills he tried to teach are still helping others. He said “hockey and life go down the same road” and that it is “crucial” to give back to the community.”

“I’m happy with (the book),” he said. “The support I’ve been getting is incredible.”

Many of his former players have written forwards for the book and Crain added that “it’s like we’re sitting on the bench again.”
For more information on “Parallels of Life: The Game of Hockey,” visit

Local artist to publish children’s novel about gender non-conformity


By Jolene Perron


Owner of the Mudpuppy Gallery and local artist, Melissa Piva has begun an Indiegogo campaign to assist her in self-publishing her children’s novel.

“They live on the third shelf up in the boys section of the toy store with all the other dinosaurs,” explained Piva. “They look so much like the other dinosaurs, they’re the same leafy green, they have the same shiny white teeth, they’re all the same height but at night Rory sneaks over to what is the girls section of the toy store and watches the dolls dance and watches the stuffed animals have a tea party and wishes that they could be part of all of these things. And then one night, the toys on the girls section notice Rory is watching them and they invite Rory to join in. Rory has the best night of their life, they dance, they have a tea party, they play dress up and they do all of these things and at the end of the night they don’t make it back to the boys section of the store.”

Piva explained, throughout the whole story, instead of assigning either gender, and instead of going specifically with transgender, she is trying to keep it so that it’s gender non-conforming. In doing this, if a child who is just questioning things reads the story they can relate to it. If it’s a child who relates more feminine or more masculine, Piva is using ‘they’ and ‘their’ as the pronouns instead of ‘he’ or ‘she’ for both the child and for the dinosaur so that it’s relatable.

The novel is inspired by her experiences with her gender-creative child.

“She transitioned socially in the summer between JK and SK, she was four,” said Piva. “In JK she started picking out Hello Kitty t-shirts that had belonged to her older sister, and some t-shirts from the girls section at Wal-Mart which had rainbows and glitter and sparkles, and then her backpack broke halfway through the year and she picked out a Hello Kitty backpack and lunch pail and proud as punch brought it up the cash register.”

Local artist and owner of the Mudpuppy Gallery, Melissa Piva, has opened a crowd-funding campaign to get the public involved with helping her to self-publish her children’s book titled Rory’s Rainbow, a story about gender-non-conformity.

Local artist and owner of the Mudpuppy Gallery, Melissa Piva, has opened a crowd-funding campaign to get the public involved with helping her to self-publish her children’s book titled Rory’s Rainbow, a story about gender-non-conformity.

During the summer between JK and SK, Piva was shopping for back to school clothes with her children when her child explained she needed a dress to go back to school “so the other kids and teacher would know she was a girl.” Piva explained it was the first time her child had said anything along those lines, and that was exactly how it came out.

The week before school went back Piva was able to take her child out dress shopping where she picked out a “sleeveless leopard print dress with a twirly skirt” and that is what she wore to the first day of kindergarten.
“I took her to the school and I stood next to her, ready to start with whoever started with her, and all the other kids in the class ran up and said ‘I really like your headband,’ ‘I really like your dress.’ Even the little boys in the class and I was so grateful for that,” said Piva.

Piva explained everything has been led by her child. Piva refused to use different pronouns until her child sat down with her and told her to use different pronouns. She said every child when they’re three misgenders, but her child, as very intelligent child, kept misgendering all the way through senior kindergarten and one day sat down with Piva and asked, “Do you think I’m a he or a she?” to which Piva replied “You are whatever you tell me.” Piva said her child explained to her “well I’m a girl, can you use she and her?”

One of the first things Piva did was search out books at different age levels to see what there was available, and what she could get approved by the board and get into the school. Not just books about acceptance, but books about children who are transgender, or children who don’t fit into their gender stereotypes, little boys who like to wear dresses, little girls who like to play with dump trucks and anything she could get into the library’s so that the kids have things they can relate to. Piva said she thinks it’s really important for kids to have something they can look at and see themselves in it.

“I had also looked for books for my older kids I actually had gotten two youth novels that were both about individuals who were transgender and coming out to their family,” said Piva. “My oldest used one of them last year for her book report for an oral presentation and we then ended up passing the book around the class because both parents and kids wanted to read it. It makes it more mainstream. If the child comes home and it’s not a child who necessarily relates to the book like that, but it shows them that it’s ok to accept kids who are like that, and they bring it home and the parents see it, and the parents see how easily the kids accept it.”

Piva explained her inspiration for her own novel came from her researching books about gender-nonconforming children, and transgender children, and how they seem to be harder to find. She wanted to make an effort to help make the subject more mainstream, not just for the children, but also for their parents.

“When I go [to PFLAG meetings] and I hear people who are older who talk about how they haven’t seen their parents in 15 years because they had to leave home because their religious beliefs and they would never be accepted and their parents don’t even know they were living as a lesbian before they transitioned,” explained Piva. “I just don’t get it. I’m grateful for that, and I feel so awkward because I’ll have adults who come to these meetings who are thanking me for supporting my child and I think, that’s my kid. That’s what you’re supposed to do. This is my child, and who cares what pronouns she’s using, who cares what she’s wearing, this is my child who has always been a very affectionate child, and a smart child, and a mouthy child, and very quick witted and why does the rest of it matter? It doesn’t.”

To help Piva with publishing her novel, visit Part of the reason Piva decided to use Indiegogo is because she can give her crowd-funders the option to pre-purchase their copy of the book or, for those who donate larger amounts, they can purchase an original copy of some of the artwork.

Local poet, writer pens first book and plans book launch event



By Ron Giofu


Writing has been a passion for Linda Bertrand most of her life.

Now, the Amherstburg resident is compiling her poetry, prose and prayers into a new book and is also planning an official launch for her book.

Bertrand is self-publishing “On Wings of Faith, Hope and Love” and is planning a book launch Sept. 18 from 1-3:30 p.m. in the community room at the Libro Centre. She said she has been working on the book for about one year but it is a compilation of works she has done over her 42 years of writing. There are some pieces that are paired with scriptures, she added.

The 144-page book contains about 123 pieces of her work and is her first book. Bertrand said she has worked on two fundraising calendars – one for the Canadian Mental Health Association (CMHA) in 2006 and the other for Christ Church in 2008 – and both did well.

“The combination of the two of them raised over $10,000,” said Bertrand.

Bertrand said she is inspired by many things, including her faith, people in her life, nature, humour, every day life experiences and exploring the meaning of life.

Linda Bertrand will have a book launch for “On Wings of Faith, Hope and Love” Sept. 18 in the community room at the Libro Centre.

Linda Bertrand will have a book launch for “On Wings of Faith, Hope and Love” Sept. 18 in the community room at the Libro Centre.

“Mostly I awaken with a need to write in the early morning hours,” she explained.

There have been occasions when she has been given a subject or title to write about, with examples being the dedication ceremonies for the “Keep History Alive” bricks in Navy Yard Park and the heron sculpture dedication, also in Navy Yard Park. She joked she “writes from perspiration” rather than inspiration for those types of works.

Writing became a passion for Bertrand in 1974 when her grandmother died and she wrote a tribute for her funeral. The tribute was published and, along with a return to her faith after a five-year absence, sparked her writing career. She urges people to follow their dreams no matter what.

“Follow your dreams, be true to your dreams, even if they are just glimpses over many years,” she said. “They are there for a reason – to help you to grow into fulfilling your gifts, your purpose and your destiny.”

Bertrand added that she believes one’s true self “is found in the centre of his or her dreams and in the fulfillment of those dreams.”

The book came to fruition with the help of editors, typists, a publishing consultant and friends, including one that said she would cover the publishing costs.

“I’m excited,” said Bertrand. “It’s a dream come true.”

The book launch will feature her reading some of her work and also have a book signing where people can purchase the book for $20. The launch is geared as an adults-only event.