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Great One Kept Sports Options Open

Arguably the greatest player to ever don skates, Wayne Gretzky's formative years in Brantford, Ontario saw The Great One involved in a variety of sports.

As a youngster, Gretzky dreamed of a career as a professional athlete, but it had nothing to do with rinks.

"When I was growing up, I used to tell everyone that I was going to be a baseball player," Gretzky said. He also played lacrosse among his youth sporting pursuits.

"I had harboured thoughts of playing in the NHL, but I never told anyone, because I always figured I wouldn't have the size and strength to make it," Gretzky said.

"A serious notion of playing pro hockey never crossed my mind until I played in the World junior tournament (in 1978)."

Gretzky, 16 at the time, led all scorers with 17 points in six games and was named the top forward in the tourney, as Canada won the bronze medal.

"I was going up against guys who were 19 and 20 years old and I did well," Gretzky said. "When I left that tournament, for the first time I said, 'I'm going to be a pro hockey player.' "

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