Perry Pappas: The Toughest Guy In Here, Part 2
Click here to read Part 1 of the three part series, Perry Pappas: The Toughest Guy In Here. Below is Part 2 of a 4-part article series.
Perry and I met when we were like four or five years old. I remember we met on the first day of school and we quickly bonded on all things Toronto Maple Leafs. In the early years, we grew up idolizing Sittler and Vaive and we constantly talked about the Hound Line of Courtnall, Clark and Leeman. The Leafs were going to win the Cup every year we would say.
It was only after a year or two at school that we started travel hockey together and became tight as tight can be. We also lived about a five-minute walk from each other, his house on Pamela Crescent and mine on Cumberland and then Northland Drive. The first thing that stood out about Perry was what an incredible athlete he was. He was very tall and lanky with huge hands and feet, but he carried and controlled his frame athletically from an early age. Nothing demonstrated this more than the track and field day competition at school. In those years it was the pursuit of “The Medal” that established who the best athlete was in each grade at school. All the results for each event were added together to make an overall champion who took home “The Medal.”
No one could touch Perry. Not only did he win the medal every single year from grade one to grade eight, he won first place in almost every event, in every year. It was pretty much a slam dunk that he would take the title every summer.
“I really remember that well because I was actually pretty proud that I won the medal every year. I also remember one event in grade eight that I came in second. You remember Rob Adie? He beat me in the 100 meter in grade eight and I’ll never forget it because I basically dove over the finish line.” Perry laughed.
I reached out to Rob Adie wondering if he would remember that race as the one time that he could say that he beat the man, Perry Pappas. It was a long time ago, but surely he would be eager to recall and boast about beating Perry in one event. On the contrary;
“Perry was such a nice guy that I honestly thought he threw the race just to throw me a bone. Just the way it happened because he basically tripped and dove at the line and through that race, it just seemed he was letting me keep up because he probably felt bad. I’ve thought that until this very day” Rob laughed.
He didn’t let you win Rob, you beat him fair and square.
In grade eight, Pappas was also instrumental in leading his school, Our Lady of Fatima, to their first city and county championships in basketball and volleyball.
The second thing that stood out about Perry was his family. The Pappas family is the type of family that sets a concrete foundation for a community. They are the type of people who know what support is and they all help each other every step of the way in life. Parents George and Shirley led the way for Perry, his younger sister Lea and younger brother Tony and they all excelled in every aspect of life in and around the Chatham community.
The Pappas family was also surrounded by an extended family of brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles and cousins that were a huge part of the Chatham community in the 1980’s.
“I don’t make any bones about what my mom and dad did for me growing up. In many ways, Chatham was a dream childhood, and my mom and dad were the best support system a kid could ever have. I always felt lucky to have that support.” Perry said
Every kid that was fortunate enough to call Perry a friend growing up benefitted in some way from being around the Pappas family.
JR C AND B HOCKEY
In the fall of 1988, Perry was ready to leave minor hockey behind and start playing with better, older and bigger players. At fifteen years old, he signed to play junior hockey with the Dresden Junior Kings under well-known Chatham-Kent coach Wayne Cowell.
“Dresden was a really fun year. We had a young and good team. I had a pretty good year as a 14 or 15 year-old but I didn’t hear from any OHL teams when I was with them. We did play an exhibition game that year against the Peterborough Petes for some reason, and that was pretty cool. They had Tie Domi and Mike Ricci that I idolized. Don Brooker from Dresden was a scout with the Petes so that was why they played us. They beat us 19-1 and they weren’t even trying and I remember thinking, this is awesome out here with these guys.”
Little did Perry know that in the very near future he would get many more cracks at beating the Petes.
Including Pappas, seven players with 1973 birthdays moved up from the Junior C Kings to the Junior B MicMacs the following season. It was a very young team for that Jr. B league , and the roster was filled with local star players. Standing six feet tall and just shy of two hundred pounds, Pappas was ready to play with the big boys.
“I knew I had a good shot to make the Micmacs because Wayne Cowell was my coach in Dresden and he got the assistant job with the Micmacs that summer and invited me to camp. I kinda had a slight inside track because he already knew what I could do. Wayne Jacklin and Wayne Cowell both got jobs with the Micmacs and they were great.”
In 1989-90, Pappas found himself on one of the finest teams in Chatham Maroon/Micmac history, and part of one of the most magical seasons the city has ever seen. During the regular season the Micmacs were at or near the top of the league and their captain, Brian Wiseman, set Memorial Arena on fire on his way to breaking Eddie Olcyk’s single season Jr .B scoring record. Olcyk had 142 points and Wiseman finished with 147. In the playoffs, the Micmacs ended Chatham’s seventeen year junior hockey title drought by defeating arch rival and two-time defending champions the Sarnia Bees in the finals.
“Just being around Brian that year was like a dream and we had guys like Darryl Bossence, Wade Harrogate, Dan Crow, Dave Maine and Todd Warriner was an underage player that year. I was improving throughout the year. I didn’t do anything major offensively that season but I was a solid player and could tell I was developing. I got into a couple of good scraps which I think put me on the radar with a couple of OHL teams.”
Part 3 of this four part series will be published next week.