By Mario Bartel
Lou Moro, who travelled the world as an athletic trainer for the Vancouver Whitecaps, the 86ers, the Canadian men's soccer team, and the Vancouver Burrards lacrosse team made his final journey on Wednesday. The B.C. Sports Hall of Famer, who's also a member of the Canadian soccer, lacrosse and Burnaby sports halls of fame, passed away at the age of 91.
Moro, who immigrated with his family to Trail from Northern Italy in 1929, when he was 11, got his first taste of B.C. sports when he stepped in to play net for the local junior lacrosse team, the Bulldogs, after the regular goalie burnt his eyes when a pipe burst at the smelter. In 1938, he helped the team win a championship.
It was while playing lacrosse Moro developed his affinity for taking care of players' aches and pains, as he admired the work being done by his team's trainer, Bert Repton, who also worked for the Trail Smoke Eaters hockey team.
Moro decided then and there when he could no longer play sports, he'd become a trainer.
After serving as a cook on a mine sweeper in the English Channel during WWII, Moro tried out for the old New Westminster Adanacs, but when he couldn't stop a beach ball in an exhibition game against the Salmonbellies, he walked off the court for the last time as a player and picked up the scissors and athletic tape as the trainer for the Burrards.
In his more than 50 years at the end of the bench, Moro didn't limit his skills and tender touch to elite athletes, although he did have a congratulatory letter from Pele framed and hung on his basement wall; he also gave his time freely to the boys and girls who played soccer for Cliff Avenue United.
"Anybody at any time they need my help, the door's always open," Moro once said.
And when they walked through that door and into the basement of his North Burnaby home that served as his training room, they were surrounded by the mementos of his long career; flags, team photos, plaques, ribbons and framed photographs covered every inch of wall space. They also served as tributes to his unsung service to keep athletes on the field, playing the sports they so love.
"Trainers do a lot of work, put in a lot of effort into sports. I feel very proud about it and I hope it might encourage others to do training for teams," Moro said.
"Uncle" Lou, as he was known, never charged a penny for his time.
"I've never asked a nickel of any kid who has come down for treatment - I use my own tape and everything," said Moro.
His reward came from being able to nurse a star player back into the lineup in time for the playoffs.
"I took it personally if a fellow was hurt," Moro once told the NewsLeader. "I would help them day and night if it would help them play."