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Ingoal writer takes on Reality TV Series: The Final Chapter

That's me on the far left, wondering if they'll notice if I try to hide under the bench when my name is called

That's me on the far left, wondering if they'll notice if I try to hide under the bench when my name is called

photo by Stevens Leblanc, Journal de Québec

When I was a kid, the only ritual I respected more than Sunday morning mass was Saturday afternoon matinée movies.  The storyline of pretty much every film we saw back then was one where the main character overcomes some challenge or grave obstacle, and against all odds scores the OT goal or hits the home run, gets the girl and ends up living happily ever after just like he should.

I’m wishing I could tell that story now, but I’m afraid my horse was pretty much dead as soon as it got out of the gate.

Already it was a minor miracle that I was one of only two over 40 goalies to have been called back to the 2nd phase of auditions for the Série Montréal-Québec reality TV series.  Of a total of about 50 goalies (in a total group of 500 players), a number were buff guys in their early 20’s with Transformer-esque equipment,  shaved heads and a steely gaze that gave no doubt as to their intentions.  The two of us 40 somethings sat together in the dressing room before our evaluation began, smiling at each other about having bucked the odds.  All around us, however, there was pretty much stony silence and a palpable feeling of nerves.  Whoa; I thought to myself- these guys are  serious goalies.  To chase the butterflies I ducked out of the room to take a sneak preview at the group before us, but was chased back inside by security guard from the TV company.

In contrast to the first round of auditions, where most of couldn’t stop high-fiving each other at having made it thus far, this time around the ambiance was rather more competitive.  I guess that’s par for the course with a bunch of younger guys.  I suppose they all believed they had a real chance to make it to the next round of evaluations, a three day training camp for 50 players to be held at the start of November.  Mathematically we were looking at a 1 in 10 chance.  If those seem like poor odds, think for a minute how many people buys lottery tickets, where the odds are about 1 in 10 million to win…

On the ice our test was certainly longer than the 90 seconds of the first go-around; four exercises involving lateral movement with 6 shots each time.  So there was more time to show your stuff, but not an easy format by my estimation.  For starters, noone got any kind of warmup.  That, combined with the level of nervousness already in effect, had me in a sweat before I even made my first stop.  One guy tried to pokecheck the shooter and blew out his groin on the very first test.  Moreover, there was a huge variation in the skill level of the shooters.  Some, quite frankly, did not test the goalies at all; so it was a bizarre sort of slow-fast, hit and miss affair.  Shots often went over or beside the net, and because they did not play rebounds, everyone could effectively cheat by taking a ridiculously advanced position.  Of course luck would have it that I ended up going against Ex-Montreal Canadien Serge Boisvert for several of my tests.  Suffice to say he did his best to make me look my worst (!)

After our hour on the ice we had a five minute interview with the TV series creator Stephane Laporte.  Against all odds I held out hope that my mediocre performance on the ice might be balanced by my overwhelming charisma and good looks.  Yeah, uh, whatever.  In any event, a week has since passed and as I finish this article the phone has yet to ring, while the chosen 50 are packing their gear for the real tryout that starts tommorrow morning.

Oh well; it was fun while it lasted.  Starting in January I encourage all those all-stars in their own time (or in their own mind as the case may be) to tune in to TVA to watch the Série Montréal Québec.  I am certain that the ratings, at least here in Quebec, will go through the roof.  Whether we admit it or not, we all still dream of playing in the big league…

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  1. James

    They didn’t even take the time to call you up and cut you?

    That’s weak!

  2. David T

    Turning back the clock, thinking of what could have been…. How about starting an 40+ league of players with some funky new age rules and gimmics which may attract a different profile of television watcher? No former pros or old timer attitudes — true everyday types given the extra boost of television gimmics. I will watch and when you need a poor goalie to hop in — I am there!

  3. Amy Burke

    Being a “40” something goalie now, I’m glad you go as far as you did! Good work, and I’d be curious to know if there were any women that tried out?

  4. Paul Szabo

    Thanks for your encouragement Amy. In fact, there were a fair number of women in the goalie category. In this type of contest there is obviously tons of speculation that goes on amongst the hopefuls. Most of us were convinced that of the 3 women chosen, one would have to be a goalie. I have seen a number of women goalies play in men’s leagues, but not many women skaters. It will be interesting to see how those women eventually chosen fit in on the ice with their male counterparts…