Sports were an integral part of life at the Villa.
During the school week we had several physical education classes where, when the weather was reasonably warm, we'd play basketball, volleyball, soccer and the odd football game.
Once, maybe twice a year, we'd have a track and field day where we'd compete in a 1 mile race, do high jumps, shot put etc. There were ribbons for finishing 1st, 2nd and 3rd. It was a bit of a joke inasmuch we did it so infrequently that no one was really that good and one's performance was hampered by little prior practice.
During the 1963-1964 School Year, the Villa entered 3 teams in the City School Basketball League. Which team you were on depended on age.
I was on the most junior team called "Villa II". We had a lot of fun, but we got killed in the standings -- much to the derision of the other 2 Villa teams that won their respective leagues.
I would play some basketball while Marcus Chassagne and Helmut Manzel lifted weights at the other end of the gym, or from time to time the covered outdoor court adjacent to Sapinère.
In retrospect the sking we did was out of this world -- and I really wish I'd appreciated it more at the time. Coming from Vancouver Island British Columbia I'd never skiied before in my life so the brothers at Villa Saint Jean taught me how to ski. I will always remember the first time. I've forgotten the mountain we went to, but it required a gondola ride to the top. We arrived in a driving snow storm. About 10 of us first timers were brought to what was surely a very flat area with maybe 5 foot slopes and taught how to fall, snowplow, and shuffle with the skis. Despite the weather, the snow the wind we had a blast. Of course at that age there was no fear and I do believe the first day the group of us later snow plowed and generally fell down the main ski hill much to our great satisfaction. Coming up the ski lift T bar was quite another story and occupied a good portion of the rest of the day!
In short time I became reasonably proficient on skis and, through the Villa, got to ski at Chateau d'Oeux and ultimately to Zermatt - with its magical horse drawn sleigh streets.
The Brothers were also good at organizing hikes to various "mountains" during the spring and fall - which again, at the time and my age, I did not appreciate as much as I should have.
On the odd occasion we did some novel things around the Villa -- see Google Earth Map below of the modern day Collège Sainte-Croix surrounded by blue dots --a) I can remember the first winter I was at the Villa it was particularly cold and a portion of the river adjacent to the Villa froze and so one day we took our ice skates, made our way down the hill, cleaned off the ice surface (green circle) and had great fun in a pick up hockey game; b) twice the first year, we went on hikes (yellow dotted line) down the Villa banks which actually were quite scenic.
SOUVENIR SKI LIFT CARD
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Ralf Brooks' Villa Saint-Jean Remembrances 1963-1965