This week we lost our friend and colleague Forrest Caldwell. Words cannot express how much we will miss him. For many and us and personally for me it's been a sad and bittersweet week. I'm sad but also feel so fortunate and blessed to remember seeing Forrest at the annual CASEM conference starting in the late 1980s and then feeling so fortunate that Forrest welcomed me to Waterloo in 1995 to join Waterloo Sports Medicine Centre.
Many people in our CASEM family may not realize how important Forrest was in terms of his contributions and commitment to sports medicine care in Canada. In the early 1980s when he moved to Kitchener Waterloo after his family medicine residency in Ottawa he started working at student health at the University of Waterloo. He and the head athletic therapist at the time set up an informal on-campus "varsity injuries" clinic for the athletes, working out of what was literally the dusty back hallway behind the gymnasium. Very quickly word got out that a sports medicine doctor was around and athletes from the community and parents of school-aged athletes would try to "sneak" into the "varsity clinic" to see Forrest.
Eventually Forrest, who was unable to accommodate these community athletes, really felt that they deserved his care and attention as much as, or even more so than the university student athletes. So he had this idea to create a clinic close to, but away from the universities to really provide good quality primary care sports medicine for the competitive and recreational, young and old "weekend warrior". In addition, he wanted the clinic close to both universities so that all the student athletes and faculty and staff also had convenient access to the clinic.
Thus Waterloo Sports Medicine Centre opened its doors as a truly community based primary care sports medicine facility 32 years ago in 1986 - a time when most of the few dedicated sports medicine clinics in Canada were located either within a University athletic therapy clinic, or within a hospital orthopaedic or physiotherapy department. Forrest and Janet Ames worked hard in the late 1980s to really establish WSM as one of the most reputable clinics around.
When I moved from London to Waterloo in 1995 a lot of people nowadays think that I helped to create WSM, not realizing it was already 9 years old when I joined! Eventually as you may know Forrest transitioned away from Waterloo to the University of Guelph where he embraced his leadership roles with the sports medicine clinic and primarily with Student Health. His constant support and presence at almost every CASEM conference for the past 30 years reflects on his loyalty and commitment to the promotion and advancement of sport medicine care in Canada. It is truly a tribute to Forrest's constant thirst for knowledge that he would really pay attention to each and every lecture and workshop presented year after year and incorporate any and all new information from the lectures, research sessions and workshops into his clinical practice.
I'm not sure how our "Forrest and Bob surprise musical performance" at the CASEM annual meeting banquet even started. That first one had to be in the early 1990s. I vaguely remember that on the Saturday afternoon -after the talks and workshops were done around 2 or 3 pm, - there was usually some type of CASEM east-west sports activity or challenge, like a 5 km road race, or hockey game etc. to fill the time before the evening gala banquet. I'm guessing there was an activity that neither Forrest and I did or were good at (probably hockey!) or got injured at (I infamously dislocated my shoulder skiing at the conference in Mount St. Anne -1990 I think..) so to kill time we wandered around the hotel and found a piano. Normally I would play piano and do sing alongs at the end of the gala, but this was not part of the "formal gala entertainment" We decided to see if we could make up some funny lyrics to a pop song and make it relevant to the conference and sneak it into the gala for a surprise performance for everyone.
Well it was obviously a hit! So year after year, it became a tradition (and actually an "expectation - -what are we going to do this year?) Coming up with an idea and lyrics and making a relevant summary to the topics presented, make it super funny, and on a few occasions "roast" the outgoing CASEM president became quite the pressure packed creative challenge for me and Forrest to literally create a song out of nothing in about 90 minutes. I'm not sure how, but the two of us always figured out something fun and memorable.
I cherish the last performance we did at CASEM Ottawa in 2015.
We did it as it was a spoof of the late night show host Jimmy Fallon's "classroom instruments" songs that were getting millions of hits on YouTube. So not only did we create the song we also set up a video camera and knew we had one and one chance only to make a live video recording of a song we just wrote and we never really practiced! Complicating matters was the mandatory involvement of the entire CASEM and Ottawa host organizing committee who had no idea what they were getting into with, I believe, absolutely no useful instructions either.
So here's that video.
-and what a fantastic way to forever cherish the memory, friendship and mentorship of our friend and colleague Forrest Caldwell.
Jan 30, 2018