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Terry Moss: educator, athlete and coach - and always learning
2021-07-10
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A proud graduate of Lively District Secondary School, Terry Hanson (now Moss) had little idea of exactly what she was stepping into as she first set foot on the floor of the Ben Avery Gymnasium in the fall of 1975.

An athletic busybody throughout her youth, the youngest of three children in the family was an equal parts accomplished high-school athlete and fearless teen. “My parents led me to believe that I could do anything that I wanted, if I put my mind to it,” stated the retired educator who celebrated her 65th birthday yesterday.

What coach Norm Vickery had assembled at Laurentian University, however, was the start of a women’s basketball dynasty. The Lady Vees had captured the first of what would become five straight CWIAU titles in March of ‘75 - a fact that might have been lost, just a smidge, in the eyes of the talkative walk-on.

“I didn’t realize how good they were,” said Moss.

So began the lessons to be learned.

Lesson #1: “I wasn’t highly skilled, compared to the other nine players, but I made sure there was a role for me to play.”

In so many ways, that kind of resilience and adaptability would define her approach to a lifetime of sport, affecting the lives of hundreds if not thousands of kids through her role as either a physical educator or a sports coach.

Truth is, that inner toughness was not way out of line for the young tomboy who grew up on the outskirts of Lively but really never experienced organized sport until she became a Hawk.

Fun fact: not only were her brothers Randy and Ron older than her, they were seven and eight years older.

“They would be rough-housing it on the front lawn and I would try and play football with them and would get thrown around,” Moss recalled. “They didn’t want their little sister hanging around with them. I grew up with sports bruises and learned not to cry about it.”

It wasn’t just her siblings, however.

Whether it was playing shinny on the hockey rink out back, hopping on the nearest ski-doo or throwing on the cross-country skis to make her way from point A to point B, Moss was most in her element keeping active, typically with similar minded neighbourhood kids, most of whom were boys.

Mere weeks into the start of her secondary school journey at LDSS, Moss was selected to run cross-country. She would be part of the field that welcomed females to OFSAA XC for the very first time. She cracked the basketball roster, as a rookie, for the first of five times, suiting up as a senior by the time she reached grade ten.

Still, it was another sporting pursuit altogether, one that clearly captured the ethnic flavour of her community, where Moss most excelled. “I was a very good cross-country skier,” admitted the long-time spouse of Track North head coach Dick Moss.

“There used to be a lot of loppets, given the influence of the large Finnish community in Walden. I still remember ordering my new boots that came from Norway - and there was always a sauna around. We would all be having a sauna, then jumping in the creek. That was when you could get away with it.”

Moss travelled to Thunder Bay to compete at the Canadian Junior Championships, finishing second to twin sisters and future Olympians Shirley and Sharon Firth, while still at Lively High.

“I was probably better suited for cross country skiing (than basketball) because of my build,” noted the 5’4” guard. Physically suited - yes. Socially - maybe not quite as much.

“I liked basketball a lot,” said Moss of her decision to attend the Laurentian tryouts as a freshman. “It’s a team sport and I’m kind of a gregarious, outgoing person.”

(there may not be a single close acquaintance of Moss who did not just spit out their coffee and scream “Ya think?” as they read that last line)

Yes, Moss is what you might think of as that walking, talking one-person party, the individual that can completely light up a room the moment that she steps in. That was, in part, the role she would play with the powerhouse Lady Vees.

Limited court time would not do justice to the lack of opportunity that Moss endured through her first two years at L.U. - non existent court time is surely more appropriate. Still, she was more than a little adept at keeping spirits light, making teammates laugh. Heck, she got her bus driving license along the way to spell Vickery behind the wheel of the team van on those long Saturday night trips north.

All in the name of carving herself a niche on the team.

“I played all four years, four national championship years,” said Moss. “It taught me to problem solve, and never quit. In some ways, I was a bit of a glue for the team. My purpose changed to: what can I get out of this experience, how does it benefit me.”

There is simply no way around the influence of the formative years on all of us. Terry Moss is no different. In that sense, it would be impossible not to attribute at least some of the foundation for the incredible journey that she has enjoyed in the four decades, post-L.U., to the core principles engrained at that time.

At the age of 29, Moss would run her first and only marathon, a source of pride, to this day.

Basketball, ski, yoga, swimming, curling, snowshoeing and so much more have all remained part of her life, even as she immersed herself in the school coaching ranks, taking both cross-country and hoops teams to OFSAA during her tenure at Lo-Ellen.

“I think I became a good basketball coach, when I was done playing,” she said. “I think I was a lot more aware of who was playing and who wasn’t playing.”

But this is still only a small part of the picture.

“I hiked Machu Picchu (five years ago),” said Moss. “That was the hardest thing I have ever done, including running the marathon.”

An avid traveller, Moss has criss-crossed the globe in search of adventure, traversing Camino Trails in Spain and Portugal, just two of the more than two dozen foreign countries she has visited. Having been selected as part of a 24-women Canadian delegation for a curling exchange with Scotland, she is anxiously awaiting an easing of restrictions.

Through it all, she will learn.

That truism has never changed for Terry (Hanson) Moss.

Northern Ontario AAA Hockey League