A new beginning

I have decided to leave the WHL's Vancouver Giants.

When I realized I couldn't be a hockey player because I had a physical disability, I knew that I still wanted to be in the NHL in some way.

Many people didn't think I would be able to do it. Along with that, I have been bullied throughout my life.

Having the name 'Dickson' didn't help.

One kid told me, “You're a cripple who probably doesn't have a dick. That's why your name has 'dick' in it, instead.”

I was one of those kids who was always by himself during lunch hour. When I went home, I went to my room, shut the door and did my own thing.

No, I was never good when it came to girls, either.

I remember approaching an Asian girl one time. I didn't know her well at all.

All I knew was that I found her attractive because that's, well, what she was. People knew that, and she did, too.

She looked similar to what someone would find in a Maxim's magazine.

“Do you want to go out sometime?” I asked her.

“Sorry,” she replied. “I don't go out with cripples.”

Dickson Liong

Dickson Liong

After that, my confidence was completely shot. I was young and extremely dumb, I really was, but that was what I was attracted to at the time.

I actually talked about this when CTV Vancouver interviewed me for a news segment in 2014-15. Most people I came across were more interested in finding out who the girl was than the actual story itself.

I thought that was hilarious.

No matter how many times I was asked, I refused to reveal who it was. I just don't feel it's the right thing to do.

Because I had no confidence to speak to girls after that encounter, or at all for that matter, I asked another girl, in a private message via social media, if she wanted to go out with me.

This one was similar to the previous: looked good, but that was it.

She replied: “I'm not interested.”

I thought it would end right there and then, but it didn't. That's because the girl spread it around that she had received a message from me.

One of her friends, two days after I sent to the message, said, “Leave her the fuck alone, you fucking crip!”

Again, another big mistake. 

I should have never asked that girl out, let alone on social media. Never do that.

I shouldn't have considered someone girlfriend material strictly off how they looked or if people considered them to be popular in school.

It was a lesson that needed to be learned.

What does 'popular' mean anyway?

Because of these experiences, I have higher standards now.

Whether two people are able to connect with one another means that much more. It may sound corny, but the inside is truly what counts.

I'm not saying attractiveness doesn't mean anything at all, but it isn't what really matters in the end.

I had to learn that the hard way. Honestly, I'm glad I did.

A girl who accepts people for who they are, has a big heart and is bubbly are what's most important to me.

Geez, I sound like I'm filling out an online dating profile. Whatever.

Anyway, at the time when all this was happening, I had extremely low self-esteem and was anti-social. 

Still, my desire to be in the NHL didn't diminish.

I got a chance to join the Giants in 2011-12 as their website writer, and my life turned around.

The late Pat Quinn, who was one of the part-owners, along with Scott Bonner, the general manager, were instrumental in bringing me on to the team. Both of them mean the absolute world to me.

Bonner introduced me to his dad, Terry, who is one of the scouting directors of the Giants, his mom Pam, his aunt Gail, his younger brother, Craig, who is a professional scout for the NHL's Dallas Stars, and his wife and children: Nola, Hayley, and Kennedy.

The same goes for them.

Scott made sure I knew all the players and hockey staff. Both he and Quinn were always there for me whenever I needed something, whatever it may have been.

In a blink of an eye, I've been with the team for five seasons. When Quinn passed away on Nov. 23, 2014, it really affected me.

Just imagine losing a family member, because that's how I felt.

I would have the same emotions if something happened to Bonner.

Liong and Pat Quinn

Liong and Pat Quinn

I was nothing, zero, before I met them. They gave me purpose in life, and there's nothing that I could ever do that would be enough to repay them for that.

It was Bonner and Quinn who brought my true self out of me: a guy who always smiles, and loves to chirp and have fun. Never to attack anyone, because I know what that is like. But to joke around and lighten up the mood.

I think it's all in the tone of voice and overall delivery. Also, consider the source, too.

I take jabs at people all the time to the point where they know it's just me being me.

People love me for it.

At least, I think they do.

If I'm not chirping at someone or cracking jokes, then people know something is bothering me.

Oddly enough, it was soon after Quinn died where my life seemed to be crashing down on me.

It all happened during 2015-16.

Oh, just so I don't confuse anyone, the end of the year isn't December for me. I'm used to reading the calendar in hockey terms, so the year ends whenever the season does.

It was the darkest time of my entire life.

I was just having all sorts of problems. Everything from issues with girls to other conflicts as well.

Issues with girls are tough, especially.

I went from being the happiest I've ever been to, all of the sudden, feeling empty and alone.

I'm not one to go out to bars and pick up girls, party, or anything like that, so I really questioned when I was going to feel that kind of emotional connection again. Truth be told, I still am.

It was just one thing after another. It got to the point where I felt I was getting kicked while I was down.

All of it had me feeling depressed, and I'm not ashamed to admit that. There's only so much one can take before it starts getting to the person.

A banner in tribute to Pat Quinn

A banner in tribute to Pat Quinn

 tried to put on a brave face, but people closest to me knew something was off.

I don't have many friends, but the majority of the ones I do have are family to me.

Liong and NHL legend Gordie Howe

Liong and NHL legend Gordie Howe

or one reason or another, I have never had the greatest relationship with my actual family.

I wish that wasn't the case, but that's how life works sometimes. One doesn't get to choose the cards that are being dealt to them.

I just battle through it like I have with every other challenge I've come across. So having others to consider family is crucial to me.

I don't know where I would get my love and support if that wasn't the case. Every person, I don't care who it is, needs that.

Thanks for the ones who were always there to answer my phone calls, sometimes multiple within the same day.

There were times I was nearly in tears. But because of the support, I was able to calm down.

If it wasn't a phone call, it was multiple text messages. Thanks for always taking time to reply to them.

I have fought through things my entire life.

People say things to me along the lines of “it must be tough to have a disability” all the time.

I don't see it that way at all. In fact, I'm really grateful to have one.

Because of it, I have been able to learn lessons that I wouldn't otherwise.

Remember, I never really spent time with people my own age group because I was often judged and bullied.

So, the closest people to me, for the most part, are older. Take Bonner and Quinn, for example.

I'm grateful for that too. Because, quite frankly, on top of everything else, it helped me mature and grow.

They've all taught me important morals and gave me great perspective on life that will stick with me for as long as I live.

Even those people who treated me poorly, whether it was doubting me or hating on me, I'm thankful for.

Through how those people treated me, it's not only given me a motivation to prove them wrong, but how to properly treat others and how not to.

Canucks president of operations Trevor Linden and Liong

Canucks president of operations Trevor Linden and Liong

It's all made me a better person.

All the happenings this season were the toughest to rise above. But because I did, it all gave me even more perspective.

I knew one thing for sure, too.

I needed a way to turn the page. I needed a fresh start . . . a new beginning.

Bonner officially announced on Dec. 8 that he would be resigning as the Giants' general manager. He said he would stay on in the position until the end of the season.

Bonner then would join the The Sports Corporation, one of the premier hockey agencies in the world, in a senior management role.

I'm proud to announce that I will be joining the company as well, but in a communications role.

With that said, I feel extremely fortunate to have been a part of the Giants.

It provided me with great highlights of not only my career, but my entire life.

I will miss following my superstitions, like wearing the same dress shoes through my entire time with the team. I only put them on when I did things involving the Giants, too.

It got to the point where people would chirp me, because they were all beaten up and worn down. I didn't care. I wasn't going to stop wearing them as long I was with the team. 

Now, those shoes can finally retire.

Liong and Giants captain Tyler Benson

Liong and Giants captain Tyler Benson

I've been able to meet all sorts of different people. From players, to coaches, scouts, general managers, and team staffs, all throughout the WHL.

I leave having made great relationships and connections with people I never dreamed of ever getting to know.

To the Giants' ownership, the players, the coaches, scouts, team staff, front office, the people who work in the press box along with the ones handling the in-game activities, I want to say thanks a million times over.

Even though I'm loud and crazy, thanks for dealing with me. I wouldn't change a thing. I constantly tell myself never to lose sight of who I am, no matter what happens.

Those same thanks goes to everyone outside of the Giants organization, the people who follow my work, or who I've crossed paths with along the way.

I have also resigned as The Fourth Period Magazine's Vancouver corespondent. Thanks to president David Pagnotta along with director of operations Dennis Bernstein for that opportunity.

Thanks for all the incredible support, because I wouldn't have been able to accomplish any of this without it.

I can't really put into words how honoured and grateful I am to be joining The Sports Corporation.

To be able to work with Gerry Johannson, who is the president and chief executive officer of the company, means a lot to me. He has always supported me, and continues to.

Not to mention, remaining alongside Bonner was extremely important to me, too.

I've done a lot of reflecting in the past month, knowing that I had already made the decision to resign once the season came to a close.

Was it tough to think back to the dark times? Absolutely.

Was it hard to reveal and admit certain things? Stuff that, for the longest time, I kept between only the closest people in my life and me? Of course.

Liong and NHL legend Bobby Orr

Liong and NHL legend Bobby Orr

But I've realized ever since I committed to starting the website that I want to help others. I guarantee that there is someone out there, with a disability or not, who is going through a similar situation.

If my experiences can be any benefit to anyone, that's what makes it all worth it.

I want to help. I sincerely hope Passion Over Sleep continues to grow and this gets out to as many people as possible.

I don't just want to simply progress in my career anymore. I want to make a difference while on that journey.

I want to change the lives of people.

Like Bonner and Quinn, along with many others, have done for me.