Ben Best loves sports - and the the more the better.
This year alone, the Grade 11 student at Central Kings has spent time on the football field, in the hockey goal crease, on the rugby pitch and as a pole-vaulter.
“I do a little bit of everything,” he says, “I like them all for different reasons.”
And lest he ever become bored with school sports, Best recently took up arm wrestling, placing third in the men’s division at provincials and moving on to the nationals in Charlottetown last month. Competing in the junior division, he finished first with his right arm and third with his left.
Best enjoys the camaraderie of team sports, but says he enjoys the individual competition of arm wrestling, which he took up recently.
“My dad, my brother Mitch and I used to mess around at home. My dad arm wrestled when he was in high school, and so did my brother,” Best said. Mitch alerted his brother to an event at the Lawrencetown exhibition last summer, which became his first competition and he now trains in Bridgetown.
On the field
Best says arm wrestling is fun and completely different than the other sports he does. He has been involved with other sports for much longer, for instance, he took up football in 2008 with the Valley Bulldogs. He has also played football for two years at his high school, and was also picked for the U-17 provincial team, who he traveled to nationals with last summer.
Best decided not to play provincial football this summer, noting, “it takes a lot of your time.” His decision was probably just as well, as he injured his ankle playing rugby and ended up missing the regional high school final. The injury already impacted his pole-vaulting during the school track and field season, and he hopes it won’t impact his Grade 12 year come the fall.
He sounds frustrated when he discusses missing out on the event he enjoys. Best is the junior record holder for districts and regionals in the event. Health permitting, though, he will have another shot at the senior record next year.
Playing more than one sport can be a benefit, the 17-year-old said.
“I feel playing football helps me with rugby,” he said, as an example.
“ You’re running, carrying the ball, tackling and being tackled,” he said about the similarities of the two, although the rules and equipment vary.
He has done a good job of juggling the two, and has been an impact player - and a team leader - in both sports.
When it’s too cold for field sports, Best can be found in the hockey rink as the starting goalie for Central Kings Gators. This season, he was named top goalie in the Valley High School Hockey League.
“Really busy” is how Best describes his sports schedule, in addition to schoolwork, friends and part-time jobs. He not only works for his father’s business, Acadia Refrigeration, be he is also an entrepreneur.
“I buy firewood in lengths, cut it and split it and then resell it. I also do work for people in the community, landscaping and gardening,” Best said. “I may as well be busy.”
The Woodville teen is hoping he can recover from his ankle injury and stay busy with sports next year.
“I don’t really want to have to drop any of my school sports, especially in my Grade 12 year,” Best said. As for his life after high school, he’s considering studying business at Memorial University. He is also intrigued by his father’s refrigeration business.
“I’m planning to join the junior apprenticeship program, with the goal of eventually getting my refrigeration certificate,” Best said. “That’s what my dad does, and I’ve always had some interest in that.”
Despite being slowed by a rugby injury, Best said he has no regrets over his athletic pursuits.
“All the years I’ve done sport, and the sports I’ve done, I expect my joints will be sore as I get older, but I figure you only live once,” he said.
Best said he’s looking forward to his senior year at CK and continuing to compete for the Gators and “being able to leave everything on the field” – or rink, or pole vault pit, or wherever else his love of sports finds him.