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One on One: Sparrow & McPhee


Scars & Guitars

Whether It was Neil diamond or Shania Twain coming through the truck speakers on our way down to the coast for yet another spring Hockey tournament. Or maybe it was a bit of “X Gon’ Give it to ya” by DMX in the dressing room while we put our skates on, from a very young age it was always the music that fueled the game we loved so much, the game of Hockey.

Barely 6 years old when the friendship began, on the Vernon Far West Blues Initiation A hockey team. A very tall and skinny, light haired Zach Mcphee, and myself a much shorter dark haired kid with buck teeth. We didn’t share much in appearance or in personality for that matter, but what we did share was a passion for the game of hockey and an ability to make each other laugh until someone could barely breathe.

“Years have flown by, hairlines have receded and we aren’t as skinny as we use to be but our
passion for the game of hockey and for playing music is as strong as ever.”

Years have flown by, hairlines have receded and we aren’t as skinny as we use to be but our passion for the game of hockey and for playing music is as strong as ever. This friendship has been a very blessed one. If you know the game of hockey you know there are many paths that your career can take, so for Zach and myself to not only get to play minor hockey together but also junior hockey and even two years at the college level alongside each other, it was pretty remarkable for a pair of small town kids.

Zach was fortunate enough to grow up in a musical household, his brother Alex and father Brad both played guitar and other instruments so it was in his nature to pick up the guitar. Myself on the other hand never played growing up, no lessons on how to play, nothing like that. But I always loved music and when Zach and I would spend time together (which was all the time) generally it was with a guitar in hand for him and both of us singing our hearts out.

There is a long list of reasons I am grateful for this friendship but I am going to share one with you. In 2012, while playing my second year of junior hockey in Vernon, BC – I suffered a pretty severe head injury during a game. This head injury sidelined me for an extended amount of time, and being just 18-years-old at the time, all I knew was playing hockey; it was my life.

Not being able to play hockey and unsure of a timeline of returning, this sent me into quite a downhill spiral. But where one door closes another opens they say, and I believe it was a recommendation from my mother that I should buy a guitar from the pawn shop, so I did. I couldn’t play hockey at that time, but I could sit in a dim room and start picking at a guitar. The process wasn’t easy and it required a ton of patience which at that age I had very little. But what I did have was a very patient best buddy named zach that knew his way around a guitar. Although we lived apart at the time because we were chasing our hockey dreams, it was endless nights over skype with average wifi connection, learning a chord here and a sequence there.

Eventually I was able to make my way back onto the ice and playing the game I loved, but now I had a new passion and something to teach me patience; to take a step back every once in a while and pick a guitar. I became more comfortable over the years and Zach and I continued to play and write songs until the wee hours of the night.

It is still what we do, we both work in hockey now and spend our weekends playing music, Zach’s career has had a lot of success in the last year and he is playing live venues and releasing an EP album as we speak. The last song on that EP album “You and I” written by Zach Mcphee and yours truly, in our college apartment in between hockey games.

~Cheers, Colton Sparrow

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