The basement of Lou Moro’s Burnaby home is a massive cornucopia of memorabilia, a lifetime of sport involvement decorating every inch of space.
Pennants, posers, jerseys and photographs adorn the walls of his recreation room; medals, plaques and trophies are on and over the fireplace, and more pictures and newspaper clippings fill scrapbooks.
And there is the ever-present pungent scent of Tiger Balm.
The colourful collection of sight and smell filling the room represents over a half century of tending to the aches and pains of thousands of athletes.
But, as impressive as the collection may be, it is the fond recollections locked in Uncle Louie’s memory bank that command the attention of visitors to his home. Each item in this sport museum has one, two, even more, stories that are worth repeating.
This is the life of Lou Moro, sports trainer supreme.
Lou’s path to the level of a sports icon took a circuitous route, from youthful immigrant to entry into four Halls of Fame.
Born in the small northern Italian town of Savona on April 26, 1918, Lou spent his first 11 years of life in San Martino before moving with his family in 1929 to the B.C. smelter town of Trail.
He soon was playing soccer for a local minor team and was later introduced to a bit of Canadiana – lacrosse; but, being short and stocky, he found himself between the pipes, tending goal.
About the same time, Lou got to know the Trail Smoke Eaters hockey team’s trainer, Bert Repton. He was intrigued with Repton’s skills at massaging and taping that permitted injured athletes to remain active instead of incapacitated.
Lou was the netminder for Trail when it challenged the Richmond Farmers for the right to represent B.C. in the 1941 Mann cup championship (Trail lost two games to one).
The following year, Lou found himself in the Canadian Navy in Victoria and playing goal for the United Services lacrosse club. At the same time, he began taping the knees and ankles of his teammates.
Discharged from the navy in 1945, Lou took up residency in Burnaby and began working at the West Coast Shipyards. From 1947 to 1961, he earned his bread and butter at Burns Meat Packers and then at Windsor Meats until his retirement in 1983.
That was the employed that paid the bills and gave him the freedom to pursue his real love – involvement with athletes both young and old.
“I retired from work but I’m not going to retire from this”, Lou once explained in an interview. “The satisfaction of a trainer is that he can help anybody perform better on the field. Anybody at any time they need my help, the door’s always open”.
Lou’s first full-time trainer’s job in Vancouver was with the 1948 Main Merchants entry in the now defunct Mainland Soccer League. During the following half century, he was trainer for:
Main Merchants 1948-51
Vancouver Lacrosse Club (Burrards/Carlings) 1952-67
Vancouver and B.C. All-Star soccer teams 1955-70
North Shore United Soccer team 1957-70
Travelling National Rep soccer teams that played in Mexico, Russia, Germany, England, Scotland, Bermuda, and throughout Canada and the United States.
Vancouver Whitecaps 1984
Vancouver 86ers 1986-95 – and, when needed, even now.
How he managed to squeeze in anymore activity, only Lou and his wife Virg know but, somehow, he did. Lou was the trainer for the annual Vancouver Sun Soccer Tournament of Champions from its inception in 1953; he supervised soccer trainers at the 1973 Canada Summer Games; he spent time as trainer at the B.C. Soccer Association’s Summer Camps and he was always available to assist at training clinics.
Oh yes! You can usually find Lou on weekends at some Burnaby soccer pitch watching the development of future stars.
His success is a result of self-taught skills and good, old-fashioned psychology. Lou once explained to an interviewer:
“You’ve got to be a mother, father and father-confessor, especially when you’re dealing with young people or when you’re on an extended trip. Probably 70 per cent of a trainer’s job is psychological. You’ve got to get an athlete to believe in you, believe that what you’re doing for them is for their own good.”
Uncle Lou, as he has been known for decades, has never charged a penny for his work, but he has been showered with official recognition.
In 1973, he was the recipient of the A.C. Sandford Achievement Award for his contribution to B.C. Soccer; two years later, he was inducted as a “builder” into the Canadian Lacrosse Hall of Fame; in 1984, he was inducted into the Italian-Canadian Cultural Hall of Fame, and, in 1995, he was elected to the B.C. Sports Hall of Fame.
But wait, there’s more to come – as we enter the year 2000, Lou is to be inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
More accolades, more memories to treasure – Uncle Lou deserves the best.