Great moments are borne from great opportunity, as a former New York Rangers coach once said. You know how I am about my Rangers. Of course, that coach sent up those famous words to his 1980 U.S. Olympic Hockey team right before the historic victory against the Soviet Union.
But Herb Brooks’ motivational declaration could have applied to members of the NJ State PBA when we came to Trenton on March 3 for PBA Day at the state legislature. And I felt a bit like the guy behind the bench when we faced off at the state house.
Like every coach going into a big game, you don’t know who is going to show up and bring their “A” game. Suffice to say, all of our members did and then some. I left my house early, stopped by the office to do a little update, and by the time I made it to Trenton, 40-45 guys were already there.
Then about 9 a.m. a bus load showed up with more members. And another. And another. And it made me feel really proud to see that we had doubled our turnout from the first PBA Day. We were rolling line after line, making legislators understand we are here to hold them accountable and make them realize the puck stops with them.
We sent a strong message that our girls and guys are willing to do the work, whatever it takes. It would have been easy for them to go back to bed rather than get up on a day off or a couple hours of sleep after working a night shift. It made me really proud to see it.
You see, that’s what you had here on this day. That’s what you earned here on this day. We played our game, and it’s catching on. We’re taking baby steps, and we all have to be happy with the process. From talking to all of you who showed up, I can tell you are all in for the good of the organization and you all realize that the name on the front of the jersey is a lot more important than the name on the back of the jersey.
(Sorry, for going Herb Brooks on you there, but I think we can feel that good about what happened on PBA Day.)
Another victory came when we were walking the halls of the state house on PBA Day. Almost every single legislator we saw knew us by first name. It was like, “Hi Marc, how are you doing?” That’s how far we have come in less than two years, and that’s only because we have the membership behind us.
Like this is the playoffs, truly, our members are playing their best when it matters most. We had another one of those holy spit moments at the Mini Convention in Atlantic City a few days after PBA Day. I cannot believe how you packed the room all three days of the convention. It was so crowded, there were people sitting on the floor. And when I stepped out to go to the men’s room, I saw another 150 outside.
At 8 a.m. each morning, all seats were mostly reserved. That’s unheard of. Now, typically you see people coming for the start of the Mini Convention meetings each day and then they leave. But nobody was leaving. They wanted to hear what everybody had to say.
Let me take a time out to personally thank retired Teaneck member Gary Spath for coming down to share his story about that renowned shooting incident back in 1990, and how he overcame two Grand Juries, a trial and public and media outcry that seems to never end. That was truly a miracle, and he was as inspiring as any Herb Brooks speech. More so. Much more so.
I think the post-game analysis will show this has been a total team effort. I think everybody knows we’re back again for real. But without the boots on the ground, we wouldn’t be getting the respect. Our members are really starting to show up, and that’s going to get us the attention to be even more relevant in 2017 when they will need to know we’re all out there voting and having a say in who is getting elected. They are starting to turn to us, and that doesn’t happen if they don’t see you down there.
We outdid ourselves, and now we need to keep going until we can’t go anymore. I don’t see that happening after what you all accomplished with PBA Day. Clearly your efforts showed this is your time. Now go out there and take it.