Ray Barile is the Head Athletic Trainer for the St. Louis Blues and now the Stanley Cup Champion St. Louis Blues.
I started in 1998 as the Head Athletic Trainer for the St. Louis Cardinals. He reached out to me my first time I came to St. Louis to begin my journey with the Cardinals. I have been to 3 World Series with the Cards, winning 2 World Series Titles. A mutual respect and admiration grew into the amazing friendship we share currently. Twenty-four years later Ray got to experience going to and winning the Stanley Cup.
I understand, comprehend and share his excitement and emotion in the long road to this accomplishment. I think I was more nervous during his run to the title that I ever was in my quest for the championship. I know how much it meant to him as an Athletic Trainer, as St. Louis Blue, as a father, husband, and friend. It is the culmination of the hours and days and years of persevering in locker rooms, on road trips, arriving at all hours of the night to unpack equipment, treat the wounded and console the Athletes. And on June 12, he got to raise the Cup and put the exclamation point on a fantastic career. One of the great traditions in all of sports is the honor to have the cup for a day and take it where you desire and with whom you desire to be with you.
I had the honor to be asked by Ray to join him for the entire day. In my 46-year career in professional sports, it will stand out as a highlight I will never forget. How lucky am I to spend the day with the Stanley Cup? More importantly, how lucky am I to call Ray Barile my friend and my Superbuddy.
Imagine being able to hold the Stanley Cup and drink out of the Stanley Cup? Can you imagine learning the history from the keeper of the cup? Can you imagine that your friend will be getting a Stanley Cup ring? Imagine one of the most cherished trophies in sports and possibly the hardest to win and to spend the day with it, riding next to you in the party van for the entire day. Imagine the look on people’s faces when you walk into a restaurant for breakfast and the smile on the kid's faces when they get to take a picture of the Stanley Cup. Imagine the people over 60 years old who have been Blues true loyal fans for over 50 years who get to experience the thrill of touching the Cup for the very first time. Can you imagine the look on the first responders, EMS people, and rescue squads who have helped the Blues personnel for years over 300 of them lined up to grab a picture with fellow workers, friends, and family?
Can you imagine going to a friend’s house and the team physician has the Cup in his basement, so other medical staff, coworkers, friends, and neighbors get their one chance to enjoy the experience of hugging the cup and sipping champagne out of this historical symbol of greatness? The greatest hockey players in the history of the sport sipping from the exact same cup. And can you imagine going to your favorite local pizza and pasta restaurant just to be greeted as the cup being carried in over the Athletic Trainers head as he places it in the middle of a long table filled with his family and friends? And imagine making one more unplanned stop calling a popular hangout and being told they had been closed for 15 minutes but informing them you are about to bring the cup in and they responded, of course, we are open come on in. Finally, ending your long but fulfilling day coming home where you started your day that morning to enjoy a final few moments in the comfort of your own home with just you a few select friends again drinking out of the cup for maybe the eighth time during the day and taking final pictures.
Imagine the picture of your close friend sitting with Lord Stanley contemplating, admiring, reminiscing the amazing day he experienced and giving so many, so much joy. Imagine a “first in a lifetime” experience, hopefully not a once in a lifetime event, so exclusive and done with precision and style. And imagine in just a few short minutes, the keeper of the cup will put the trophy in its case and head to the next day's event. Imagine as that car pulls away your thoughts turn to the next season which is soon approaching and how you can possibly duplicate the perfect day. Imagine that!