Hey, how you doing, have we been introduced?

I love gym class. It’s really what I’ve always wanted to do. Not teach it, but just – do gym. I knew it wasn’t a profession, but all the kids who liked science got to be scientists; the kids who liked math got to be mathematicians, the history lovers got to be historians, so why not me? Other kids had it handed to them, regardless of their interests – “oh little Bobby, you like mountains? Well you should grow up to be a mountaineer!” But not for gym lovers. There’s no ad in the classifieds, “gymer wanted – must like sports”, no Fortune 500 company holding open a spot for a gymineer fresh out of school.

I did get excited once when, while reading through a list of professions and average salaries, I saw that a fairly decent wage was paid to people who called themselves “gynocologists”. I always thought the letters “n” and “m” had a lot in common – shape, sound, place in the alphabet – they’re practically interchangeable. “Would you like a glass of nilk? Yes or mo?” But that day, when a little research stole my innocence and thrust me into adulthood, I saw the difference one letter could make in place of the other.

Eventually, thoughts of gymineering for a living faded. Instead I tried my hand at a few of the sports you can make a comfy living playing. I gave it a run in hockey, then golf, and finally I settled on track and field. Track, and in my case running 800 metres, doesn’t pay very well at all unless you’re really, really, really good. But it can help pay for school, and as a fairly broke 19 year old, that was good enough for me.

I spent two years in a place called Bristol, Virginia, as a middle-distance member of a long distance team. As a team we won two NAIA National Cross Country Championships (the team would go on to win a third after my departure). I left Virginia with a lot of red blood cells, great friends, memories and a left leg that complains whenever I make it do anything.

I moved on from Bristol to British Columbia, where I spent three years at Simon Fraser University. I was happy to return to Canada, sad to learn that everyone in BC blindly hated Ontario, and a little freightened to be on my way to live in a place that I’d never been within 3000km of.

There’s a lot I could say about my years in University, but I want to keep this as much about athletics as possible. I liked running for SFU. I liked Varsity in general. Immediately I saw improvements over my times in Virginia, but it wouldn’t be until my final year with SFU that I made indoor nationals as an individual. Months later, after almost calling it a career because of my left leg, our 4×800 team earned ourselves an All-American title one sunny afternoon in Edwardsville, Illinois.

That was May 23rd, 2008.

Since then, it’s been over a year and I’ve just been searching, searching for a sport.

For a long time I got into basketball in a big way. I still lived by the SFU campus and it’s very easy to show up to the gym pretty much any time of day and either shoot around by yourself, or more often than not, get a pick up game going with a reasonably high level of skill.

I liked basketball. I am 5’7 and 140 lbs, but I felt like that set me up nicely as an underdog. People have very low expectations for white basketball players under 5’10.

Then I ran into a rough week. I sprained my ankle once playing ball, it was fairly severe. Then four days later I was inebriated and sprained the other ankle running over a median. Three days after that I thought I could go for a run, I don’t know why, but I tried, and I sprained the original ankle again on a tree root. So much for perserverance.

Temporarily that halted my hoopin’ and high toppin’ days, but it expanded my vision. Those ankle injuries opened my eyes to my larger quest.

Since graduating, I’ve become an athlete without a sport. I love to compete. I hate the idea of just going to the gym everyday to get bigger or stronger – sure, its better than sitting on my ass – but I ‘d much rather be working towards a tangible competitive goal. I’d rather be doing pushups knowing it will take time off my front crawl than bicep curls knowing it will, ahh, let me do more bicep curls.

That’s what this adventure series is all about. I am a 25 year old man who’s going to be diving into every sport – from the four major leagues of North America to the Olympic events we see once every four years, right down to that weird game of strip marbles your cousin Ed invented last week.

I once read a career article that said “think of what you really want to do. If that job doesn’t exist, create it”.

So here I am, Jamie Millage, Gymineer. Welcome to the office.