Archive for December, 2011
Friday, December 23rd, 2011
2011 was an interesting year.
We had some emotional and inspirational stories, the ups and downs in the lives of athletes, coaches and officials, the issues and the controversies.
Professional and amateur athletes, Olympians and those who have dreams of getting there. People were never short of words and telling their stories.
And there were the sensitive topics, the ones some people tried to ignore and how others picked up and shared their frustrations with athletic associations and amateur sports groups who saw things only one way.
We spoke with parents and athletes, coaches and teachers, officials and bureaucrats. Yes, even the average day fan who had
lots to contribute. Just in case you missed who talked sports with me on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN in 2011, here they are…..and thanks to them for all for the wonderful stories, opinions and more.
Thanks, to you, for listening.
Olympian Ben Johnson; World champion rower Victoria Nolan; Canadian university football record holder Michael Faulds; Basketball Canada CEO Wayne Parrish; Mayfield hockey player Danielle Gagne; Wilfrid Laurier hockey player Alicia Martin; bowling convenor Dave Astil of Eastdale Collegiate; Lafayette College basketball player Jared Mintz; Minnesota journalist Myron Medcalf; two-time World champion hurdler Perdita Felicien; Canadian Association for the Advancement of Women in Sport executive Karin Lofstrom; U of Toronto runner Sarah Wells; former World champion sprinter Donnovan Bailey; Canadian soccer player Kara Lang; Blind swim world record holder Chelsey Gotell; Atlanta Falcons GM Tom Dimitroff; Laurier U football player Alex Anthony; Seneca basketball player Lauren Eggleston; Andy Murdison in water skiing; weight lifter Justin Spencer; Canadian basketball player Jermaine Anderson; former NHL goalie Glenn Healey; St. Andrew’s athletic director Greg Reid; Canadian Olympic archer Crispin Duenas; journalist Neate Sager; York University professor and author Joe Baker; George Brown basketball player Elaine Ticzon; Peter Baxter, Laurier athletic director; Queen’s volleyball player Katie Matthews; Coaches of Canada boss Wayne Parro; Argonaut defensive back Matt Black; Canadian under-17 rugby star Sawyer Herron; St. Michael’s College volleyball player Andrew Kocur; Ottawa girls high school soccer coach Pat Lacasse; Sinclair baseball coach and teacher Geoff Whent; lacrosse author Jim Calder; 2015 Pan Am Games V.P. Allan Vansen; Deaf volleyball player Annie Lau from George Brown; Upper Canada College’s John Seydel, grandson of CNN boss Ted Turner; Cawthra Park Secondary athlete of the year Jon Golla; Royal Military College hockey coach Adam Shell; Humber volleyball player Landis Doyle; former Havergal College hockey player Shannon Flatley; Canadian rower Anna Ionson, now at Princeton; former Boston Marathon runner Nelson Njeru; provincial champ in the discus, Ezana Debalkew from Don Mills Collegiate; retired Laurier Dean Luke Fusco; Newmarket distance runner Sheila Reid and now at Villanova; Turner Southey-Gordon, former Upper Canada golfer and now at Duke University; Sault Ste. Marie defenseman Ryan Sproule; Queens U professor Heather Evans; winningest football coach in Canadian university football, Larry Haylor; teacher and baseball coach Paul Rebello; Member of Canadian University Games swim team Zsofia Balazs; Durham College basketball player Eric Smith.
And there’ s more…
hurdler and first Canadian Olympic gold medalist Mark McCoy; Humber College golfer Mark Hoffman; Mount Carmel high school athlete of the year Sarah Edney; Canadian Idol judge Farley Flex; author and broadcaster Spider Jones; U of T basketball player Justin Holmes; trampoline and tumbling star Jordyn Miller-Burko; Malvern athlete of the year Nick Losee; Ryerson hockey player Stephanie Webster; Canadian wheelchair basketball coach Jerry Tonello; Sacred Heart High distance runner Brigid Callaghan; former multi-sport athlete Anthony Lue; fitness promoter Claudine Labelle; field hockey player Emily Fisher; Humber College basketball player Michael Acheampong; psychology Professor Dan Yarmey from U of Guelph; former U of Toronto football coach Greg DeLaval; Father Henry Carr sprinter Alysha Miller; St. Peter’s Secondary hockey coach Steve Stanlick; Girece Kazumba, high school basketball player; Bayview Glen multi-sport athlete Jonathan Kielhauer; cricket player Hassan Muhammad; York Region elementary teacher Rob Gillies; Canadian Pan Am Cup volleyball player Sarah Pavan; legendary NHL goalie Johnny Bower; Humber College golf coach Ray Chateau; National beach volleyball player Kristina Valjas; Toronto sprinter Aaron Brown; Pickering High middle distance runner Xavier King; Birchmount Park discus and javelin star Brittany Crew; Canadian National softball player Kaleigh Rafter; Don Mills Collegiate athlete of the year Holly Anderson; Toronto’s 7-foot-5 basketball player Sim Bhullar; Ontario Varsity Football League Commissioner Joe Cressy; Central Peel athlete of the year Marcus Lewis; sprinter Phylicia George; Brother Andre hockey coach Dave Turner; former CFL player and the “Kissing Bandit”, Adriano Belli; Richview water polo athlete Danilo Zugic; Ontario Cycling boss Jim Crosscombe; Ontario Sailing boss Glenn Lethbridge; St. Michael’s College lacrosse player Alex De Gagne; Holy Trinity (Courtice) football star Earl Anderson; Washington Redskin Oshiomogho Atogwe; York U soccer player Ilya Orlov; multi-sport athlete Moriah Kolenda from Christ the King High; former Paul Dwyer all-star goalie Stephanie Nehring; Canadian university football rookie of the year Tyler Varga; Havergal College rower Meghan Ranking; Father Henry Carr track coach and teacher Peter Miller; Canadian and Olympic sprinter Tony Sharpe; Ryerson point guard Jahmal Jones; Ottawa student and distance runner Andrew Towle; provincial sailing coach Murray McCullough; Globe and Mail reporter Kate Hammer; lacrosse player Amy Locke.
From many sports, the popular and not so popular, our call went out to them to talk – and they replied.
former NHL player and Respect in Sport promoter Sheldon Kennedy; international exchange student Natalie Breitschwerdt and athlete at Pickering College; disc sport fan Chris Lowcock; CEO of Athletics Canada Rob Guy; teacher and football coach Russ Hoff; Baseball Canada star Joey Hawkins from Sinclair Secondary; Ryerson associate director of athletics Stephanie White; 38-year old Loyalist College rugby player and academic award winner Sean McMurtry; B.C. Lions defensive back Chris Smith; Brock U all-star goalie Beth Clause; York U soccer player Adrian Pena; Calgary pro football player and former Hec Crighton winner Brad Sinopoli; Toronto school board superintendent Jim Spyropoulos; retired teacher and Pickle Ball promoter Wayne Roswell; equestrian Hayley Cairns from Queen’s U; top Canadian Football League pick Henoc Muamba; Blue Jays amateur scout T.J. Burton; Canadian Olympic and Sports Hall of Famer Bill Crothers; former CEO of Ontario Soccer Guy Bradbury; U of Toronto swimmer and athlete of the year Zach Chetrat; Laurier hockey player Benjamin Skinner, kid brother of NHL player; former Olympian hockey player Vicky Sunohara; retired football coach Nobby Wirkowski; parent Scott Fox; swimmer Tera Vanbeilen; Coaching the Coaches instructor Frank Halligan; sprinter Justyn Warner; tennis player Brayden Schnur; Laurier U’s President’s Award winner Tania Pedron; former pro soccer player Jim Lefkos; U of Western Ontario Professor Craig Hall; Toronto School Board athletic coordinator George Kourtis; weight lifter Justin Spencer; Hamilton Tiger Cat Ryan Hinds; former Maple Leaf Eddie Shack; Canada Games President Sue Hyland;Nelson high school goalie Taylor Schleich; high school rower Sam Pinto; baseball coach Sam Dempster; World University Games Team Canada Communications Durham College basketball player Laura Pacevicius; Canadian Olympic Committee’s Lisa Wallace; Ari Grossman; former Canadian wrestling champ Kimin Kim; NHL goalie and Hall of Famer Ken Dryden; UFC Canada’s Tom Wright; Calgary Stampeder J-Michael Deane; Ryerson President Sheldon Levy; Canadian Commonwealth Games director Scott Stevenson; Canadian triathlete Kyle Jones; Georgian College basketball’s Summer Bly; cheerleader Michael Wilson at U of Western Ontario; Duquesne U basketball player Wumi Agunbiade.
Coaches and athletes, they all had their say on Sportsnet 590 THE FAN.
Argos Jim Barker; Sheridan College basketball coach Shane Bascoe; St. Michael’s basketball player Duane Notice; Minor hockey boss John Gardner; Toronto teacher Eamonn Nolan; Michigan State basketball player Kalisha Keane; York U sprinter Dontae Richards-Kwok; wheelchair basketball player Tamara Steeves; Villanova football player Roman Grozman; Don Hooton; basketball player Jasonn Hannibal; Olympic beach volleyball player Mark Heese; York University football coach Warren Craney, baseball player Jason Dickson, Edmonton Eskimo football allstar Jerome Messam; judo star Kelita Zupancic; rower Doug Csima; Canadian sailor Derek Hatfield; basketball’s Dakota Whyte; badminton’s Dayvon Reid; York University distance runner Dan Fiorini; University of Toronto professor Peter Donnelly; Davis Cup tennis coach Martin Laurendeau ;basketball coach Paul Melnik; football’s Akeel Lynch; paediatrician Laura Purcell; Ontario Colleges executive Blair Webster; Canadian basketball coach Allison McNeill: University of Western Ontario football coach Greg Marshall; high school sprinter Shaina Harrison; professor Paul Dennis; Mayor Rob Ford; cardiologist Atul Verma; Canadian diplomat Paul Heinbecker; baseball’s Brett Van Pelt; hockey parent Louis Ouellette; University of North Carolina football player Allen Champagne; javelin star Renee Foesell; York University soccer player Alon Badat; neurologist Charles Tator; McMaster University athletic director Jeff Giles; McMaster cross country runner Victoria Coates; Durham College baseball player Julian Daligadu; George Brown basketball player Melissa Villar; Laurier U soccer player Krista Celluci; tennis star Jesse Levine;University of Toronto lacrosse player Marc Anthony Koukoulas; St. Andrew`s College basketall player Chris Egi; Montreal Alouettes physician Scott Delaney; Canadian tennis star Milos Raonic; Laurier U football player Shamawd Chambers; mountain biker Jon Winfield from U of Toronto; U of Guelph hockey player Alison Little; new B.C. Lions head coach Mike Benevides; Canadian record holder in speed walking Rachel Seaman; Laurier U quarterback Shane Kelly; Blues Jays prospect Tom Robson; Milwaukee Brewer George Kottaras; U of North Dakota hockey coach Dave Hakstol; Mohawk College volleyball player Justin Desroche; multi-sport athlete and artist Morgan Moskalyk; Centennial College soccer player Philip Liscio.
We talked with people from more than 40 sports.
sprinter Ben Johnson; former Canadian tennis star Sonya Jeyaseelan;Ryerson hockey player Jason Kelly; ex-Upper Canada College player and Ottawa Senator Colin Greening; Team Canada baseball player Cal Quantrill; U of Guelph athletic director Tom Kendall; U of Western football player Darryl Wheeler; Brock University President Jack Lightstone; Toronto Catholic School Board director Bruce Rodriques; CFL Commissioner Mark Cohon; Winnipeg Blue Bomber Paul Bennett; Olympic cyclist Curt Harnett; King City football’s Sam Montazeri; Durham College golfer Tiffany Albath; former UWO and now San Diego Charger Vaughn Martin; Baseball Ontario executive Dirk Dreiberg; Olympic boxer Lennox Lewis; Brock U baseball player Shaun Valeriote; Laurier U hockey coach womens hockey coach Rock Osborne; intramural sports guru Steve Friesen; orthopaedic surgeon Robert Gordon; 2015 Pan Am Games CEO Ian Troop; parent Jocey De La Fontaine; Oshawa football player Riley Palmer; Paralympic Hall of Famer Earl Church; Jacques Cardyn, Canadian 2011 Pan Am Games Chef de Mission; boxer Mary Spencer; Pope John Paul II high school basketball player Eternati Willock; basketball player Jerome Brown; U of Toronto Dean Ira Jacobs; author and former CFL player Bruce Beaton; Brampton teacher Anuja Bharti; Alberta schools executive director John Payton; Woodlands high volleyball player Zeid Hamadeh; George Brown basketball’s Quinlan Viera; McMaster U football coach Stefan Ptaszek; Canadian ethics in sport guru Paul Melia; U.S. football player Stephen Trivieri; former CFL player Mike Eben; boxers Miranda Jollymore and Ibrahim Kamal; George Brown volleyball’s Sean Bennett; St. Martin Secondary basketball’s Naz Long; Canadian champion in power lifting Stephen Jesso; Mississauga News journalist Iain Colpitts; tennis player Peter Polansky; Toronto Marlies Tyler Brenner; G.L. Roberts teacher and coach John Pfeiffer; parent Darlene Stapely; Drewry Secondary wheelchair player Johnathon Gies; Drewry teacher John Iadipaolo; York U basketball player Brittney Szockyj; Argos executive Paul Massotti; Durham College basketball scoring leader Rob Gagliardi; U of T hockey player Kevin Deagle; St. Andrew’s multi-sport athlete Fabian Andark.
And not just those playing the game, medical staff to authors, directors and even dignitaries.
Hamilton Sports Hall of Famer Cecelia Carter-Smith; sports psychologist Jesse Steinfeldt; volleyball player Austin Hinchey; Laurier U basketball player Kale Harrison; Centennial basketball coach Jim Barclay; George Brown volleyball player Alyson Clow; Nelson football player Will Finch; former NHLer Georges Laroque; Buffalo Bills C.J. Spiller; George Brown distance runner Sean Sweeney; journalist Lanny Stewart; Canadian bobsledder Jesse Lumsden; Ryerson University athletic director Ivan Joseph; roller derby star Amie Hawking; paediatrician Kevin Gordon; author Barbara Coloroso; Carleton University ski coach Chris Mamen; Queen’s University hockey player Morgan McHaffie; San Antonio guard Corey Joseph; Brock U basketball player Nicole Rosenkranz; George Brown professor Peter Widdis; distance runner Tacey Atkinson; Gonzaga basketball player Kevin Pangos; St. Michael’s basketball coach Jeff Zownir; Mount Carmel Secondary football player Tommy Majka; basketball player Jonathan Layne from Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton High; Seneca basketball player Samantha Evans; swimmer Margaret White-Wrixon; U of Western Ontario squash coach Jack Fairs; Belleville Bulls hockey goalie Malcolm Subban; Toronto School Board director Chris Spence; retired York Region school director Bill Hogarth
Can’t wait for 2012. Happy Holidays!!
Thursday, December 22nd, 2011
Just going over the list of coaches of professional sports team, and a recent group, that got walked to the door in the past year. Fired. See ya.
Variety of reasons, too, from owners fed up with poor records, fans disenchanted with teams and, if we believe it, players not wanting to play for the coach. I am sure there is more. But that’s what happens at the professional level.
Told it occurs on the college and university side of sports, albeit the bucks to coach are nowhere near as high. There are some exceptions and have to wonder about some of those salaries paid to U.S. College coaches – and I am not being disrespectful of the quality of the person.
Let’s get to the Greater Toronto Area secondary and elementary schools – where coaches are not paid.
As some people tell me, it’s an “expectation” on the part of the Board of Education or a Principal who has hired teachers. They assume the newbie’s wioll do their share in extracurricular activities. Others say, they just coach because they enjoy it. But, there are more reasons, too.
Some coaches like to think they’re in the major leagues barking away instructions or parading in front of a team bench. Many think they’re helping young people with an often unusual show on the hardwood, football field, hockey rink or soccerf pitch. Not too sure at some of the displays people share with me – and thank goodness the majority of school coaches appear to have some sense at what they’re doing.
Dr. Chris Spence, a former pro football player and now the Director of Education for the largest school board in Canada, was on my Sunday Morning show a few days ago. Great guy and maybe I can get him back for a longer segment in 2012. The response from listeners by e-mail, “Tweets” and Facebook, showed they were very interested in what he said.
One item focussed on the decline of coaches and Spence seemed concerned.
School coaches, the majority without any coaching certification, are predominantly teachers. Community volunteers are in the pack with police checks being mandatory. But the mix doesn’t always work. A pro player, more knowledgeable can’t volunteer and coach – unless he or she is a teacher or has one standing around. Some teachers, maybe it has to do with egos, don’t like to see others doing a better job and students benefitting from their experience. There are many who are the opposite.
For a school team to participate, a teacher needs to be there for liability reasons. Parents tell me that every school should have lots of teams and young people learning the social skills they will need in life. It also does wonders for their health and well-being. Many times the learning in a sports scenario hits home quicker than the traditional classroom.
Maybe it’s time the politicians, bureaucrats and others become a bit more creative and set aside a Professional Development opportunity for teachers to learn what is required to coach young people – and, also, the way it should be done. Give teachers the time and, if you want to call it that, the credits – on their personal files.
It also makes sense that someone comes up with a mechanism to fix a broken system – one that lacks accountability.
Athletic associations are not the answer. Many of these individuals, appointed by other teachers and buddies, like the spotlight – but rarely accomplish much. School Boards are worried about Unions and, as a result, tend to back off on pushing people to – volunteer. You can remember previous conflicts and how the system can easily shut down with the blink of an eye from the folks at the Ontario Secondary School Teachers Federation.
So, things remain status quo. Some school games get played. Some don’t. Kids are obese. Participation is down. Funding pressures increase. Some coaches do their best. Many more don’t coach.
Is anyone listening or does anyone care?
Tuesday, December 20th, 2011
Here’s a trivia question: what university had a football player that won the Hec Crighton Trophy, as the top player in Canada, and his team officially finished the season 0-8?
The answer: the University of British Columbia.
Quarterback Bill Green got the award and the team, just a few days before Christmas, got stripped of the 6-2 season record. Now, officially, UBC is 0-8.
But, let’s be clear, it’s not Green who is the problem.
Season`s Greetings might be interpreted in a different way these days at the UBC and, especially, when it relates to the football team. A Festive Season, well, not entirely.
After a supposedly wonderful few months of 2011 on the gridiron, that included the efforts of Green and Shawn Olson as runner-up for the Coach of the Year award, the celebration has now gone in the opposite direction.
Don`t blame Santa Claus. Not sure who Scrooge is since everyone is hush-hush about an eligibility violation that has resulted in penalties, sanctions and just pure embarrassment for the entire program – and after a season that had the Thunderbirds just a couple of wins shy of playing in the Vanier Cup.
We`re told that a UBC player participated in all eight regular season games, as well as two more in the playoffs, but his eligibility ran out. Some people are quick to point the guilty finger strictly at the student, who must take some responsibility.
But what about the folks at UBC who supposedly check that information before a player steps on the field? What about the Canada West Universities Athletic Association? What about the CIS who consistently stresses rules and regulations?
Apparently, the mistake was made prior to the football season in 2008 and by UBC’s varsity athletics office. Interesting that it took this long for the problem to pop up – and not sure what prompted the self-disclosure by UBC?
Yes, accidents do happen all the time and honesty is always the best policy.
However, the entire team got thrown under the bus. Is that fair? I am not alone saying those who made the error should be thrown under the bus and leave those not guilty alone. That’s the trouble with specific rules.
UBC had to forfeit all games that the ineligible player participated in – but was he an impact player. UBC won’t say. At least, not right now.
With an asterisk beside the UBC name in the official records, there are also more sanctions.
UBC is fined $1,250. That includes a $250 slap on the butt for costs associated with the investigation – one which the university did cooperate with in full since UBC disclosed the boo-boo in the first place.
One more penalty: UBC plays the 2012/13 season on probation. Not sure if that means the school can`t compete in the post-season round as no explanation was provided.
Yes, a nightmare for UBC. Also, a black eye that will, eventually, heal. A mistake that should have been caught, too.
Wednesday, December 14th, 2011
Some people say time can work wonders.
But there’s more than just time.
I was invited, by teacher Paul Orsi, to Chaminade College – a Toronto all-boys high school, to talk with a student about wrestling. Orsi told me that the teenager, relatively new to Canada and a bit shy, had the potential to become very good in that sport.
Not only does Orsi know wrestling much better than me, but he thought the opportunity would be beneficial for the student – and he was right.
Orsi greeted me in the main hallway of the school and I also had some time to speak with a social worker, other teachers and a librarian. Toss in students who were members of the Chaminade wrestling program. Also saw them in practice and included them in a video story for Rogers TV, our sister station. The show is called “High School Sports Zone”.
The feature was about Isaac Mawa, a youngster who came to Canada a few years ago from Sudan.
If you know anything about the African country, things are not good there. Troubling times for him. His story was compelling. The 15-year old, who saw horrible things that can scar people for life, is settling in quite nicely at Chaminade. He has his share of wrestling medals, learning English, benefitting from staff support and also well liked by his peers.
Orsi, who I had met years ago and did other stories about his Chaminade wrestlers, saw an opportunity to help a youngster and went with it. It is a breath of fresh air to have people like him in our educational system. Sadly, there are many others who are opposite to Orsi and I just can’t figure it out.
With wrestling, it has been something like 30 years since a 16-year-old wrestler from Cardinal Newman High School broke his neck after awkwardly falling on his head while attempting an over-the-hip throw. Wrestling went kaput and there is still no championship for that sport in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
It is important to point out that Chaminade is the same school that, just over two years ago, had an unfortunate incident happen involving certain members of the football team on a trip to Michigan. We’ll just leave it at that, but creative web searchers can find out more. What occurred, reported factually, resulted in coast-to-coast print and broadcast media coverage.
It was a black eye on Chaminade – and, as we all know, those eventually do heal.
But the incident was handled in a questionable way. Some Chaminade staff snubbed reporters and the media because the story went viral. Rather than admit to the problems, correct them and move on – the door was shut tight and, in doing so, many student athletes were denied opportunities to be featured prominently.
Since then, changes have occurred. There is a new administration at Chaminade. The black eye is gone. Orsi, who was not involved in the football incident, is showing what can be done to work with people and create positive opportunities so that it benefits young people.
It’s something others should also be doing.
Tuesday, December 13th, 2011
He makes a lot of money doing what he does best: playing hockey.
Something in the neighbourhood of about $10 million annually, give or take a few pennies, and Sidney Crosby is one exciting player to watch.
But, that’s when he is healthy.
Some mention his name in the same breath as Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr and Gordie Howe.
There has been lots of talk about Crosby. It’s all over the place.
Should he play or should he give it up?
“Sid the Kid” is good, real good. Now, he’s in pain – physical and mental – and not knowing what to do as a result of the latest brain injury. Some people call it “concussion”. He’s getting advice, but he’s also old enough to make a decision – one that is best for his health and well being.
We would all not like to see Crosby, who apparently started shooting pucks or balls in the basement of his home at the age of two and got his first pair of skates a year later, hang up his competitive skates.
But prepare yourself for that becoming a reality for the 24-year old.
Can you just imagine the discussions going on in Halifax between Tina and Troy Crosby, his parents?
Proud of their son and his accomplishments in hockey and the National Hockey League, but watching him get hit – again. Yes, hockey is a contact sport. Yes, doctors cleared him. Yes, there is lots of money on the table.
Not too sure how many parents tinker with the idea that their son could have scrambled eggs above his shoulders as a result of these injuries to the head. When does one say, yup, my life is more important?
I sure hope we will see Crosby, one that is as close to the Crosby of past, back with the Pittsburgh Penguins. And if it happens, some people will be asking if it is the right thing to do for a youngster who has a long life ahead of him and daily headaches?
And it doesn’t stop with Crosby.
Parents of youngsters, boys and girls, playing club and school sports should be asking questions, too. Now, hold on, I am not suggesting that amateur sports grind to a halt.
What I am saying is better decision-making by parents, coaches, game officials and, yes, players, is necessary. Maybe the time has come for athletes to have doctors check them out before they play sports. Maybe people need to be more sensitive about pulling an elite player from competition, regardless of the result, if there is any sign of the athlete not his or her usual self.
Far too many times, players are in games when they should be on the bench or seeking medical attention. Amateur sport is way different from waiting for a Brink’s truck to roll up with a pay cheque.
Thursday, December 8th, 2011
Jonathon Layne might have to accept that some people believe he is just an average high school basketball player.
Only 18 years old, he should be very fortunate if that was the only concern he has the rest of his life.
The statistics that this 5-foot-10 point guard has put up in his youthful years at Toronto’s Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton High, not what you would call the powerhouse school for sports with less than 1,000 students, has been nothing short of impressive.
The school team plays in the Toronto Catholic District School Board league where the focus is often on a select group of teams. Many athletes, youngsters like Layne, don’t play on the elite teams and could have transferred to a “basketball school” – but why waste a year because of rules that are not always consistent.
The chatter about Layne on discussion boards – and from people who hide behind fictitious names – means nothing.
I had a nice chat with Maria Pereira, Principal of Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton. Here’s a senior administrator who cares a great deal about Layne and it sounds like others who attend her school. She’s very supportive of him and goes out of her way to ensure he gets attention when media, like me, come calling.
Layne put up some big numbers in the season opener – 57 points – in a 93-73 win over Monsignor Johnson. Some have already gone to the social media sites with excuses saying he was lucky and played a weak team. No praise. If Layne was lucky, he’s been lucky in past, too.
He put up 63 points in a senior game last year. Back in grade 10, yes, another 63-point game. Playing in a Toronto community centre league, he scored 70 points. Yes, it’s all luck.
Don’t think so.
Team captain and a former school athlete of the year, Layne has worked hard to get where he is. Made some big sacrifices – and even volunteers helping younger kids learn the game of hoops at a nearby recreational centre.
Where he wasn’t lucky happened in an accident in his grade 11 year, when the school didn’t have a basketball team. Layne, playing pick-up, went up for a dunk, grabbed the rim, then let go. He missed the bucket and also landed on his wrist. Fortunately, it was not his shooting arm. Results: broken bones, lots of pain and six weeks to heal.
Layne is passionate for the game. You can hear it in his voice. He knows the chances of playing pro are slim at best. But that hasn’t stopped him from believing in himself, doing the best he can and admitting that he can do alot better – in the game and in the classroom. He wants to pursue a business career.
Two years ago, he was chosen MVP at the Michael Jordan high school basketball camp in Santa Barbara, Calif. He was also MVP of the Canadian team that played in a U.S. Invitational basketball tournament this past summer in Columbus, Oh. There’s more. He’s been the top scorer on his team in every game played with Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton since he started in Grade 9.
He averages about 30 points a game, has never fouled out or been ejected. That’s impressive to me.
One thing that remains puzzling is that University and College coaches have not contacted him. I would wager many of them don’t even know there is a Bishop Marrocco/Thomas Merton High. And, many coaches go scouting at the schools that tend to win championships. Layne’s school, last year, lost in the Division B final by eight points.
You’ve heard the expression “under the radar”. Maybe he is. His academic grades are in the 70′s, which is why he chose to return for a fifth year of high school. He talks about a U.S. school in the Fall of 2012. Ah yes, heard that before. Wouldn’t it be nice if a Canadian school – college or university – reached out to help and keep him in this country?
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
High school teacher Sharon McConnell, a former lifeguard familiar with first aid, may have saved the life of a 17-year old male athlete at Toronto’s Silverthorn Collegiate.
Her colleague, Sean King, is also being hailed for his role in helping the youngster.
Now, the number has swelled to six staff being touted for their involvement in doing what they had to do to help a student who collapsed in a Toronto District School Board gym from a sudden cardiac arrest.
The scenario could have been bleak if the school didn’t have a portable electronic device – one that searches for potentially life threatening cardiac arrhythmias. Yes, those machines can cost $5,000. But saving a life comes first.
And while the incident was last week, someone may have figured it was a good news story to be shared with the public. Seven days later, the cameras and microphones started to shine on people – and for good reason.
The youngster, who asked that his name not be released, played football this year and is a former basketball player. He had surgery to correct a heart disorder, according to Silverthorn staff member Norm Petterson, and will be taking things a bit easy during the school break for the Holiday season.
Here’s, apparently, an abbreviated version of what happened.
Just a few weeks into her new job, McConnell had a physical education class playing basketball. She noticed the boy, who had played some hoops in the morning, holding his arm. Then, he fell backwards. King just happened to be walking through the same gym after teaching his Grade 9 class about CPR – cardiopulmonary resuscitation. He was going to pick up the school’s emergency equipment. When the boy collapsed, both McConnell and King rushed to his side. Showing signs of a seizure, his eyes half open and shaking, McConnell’s experience was critical.
Both teachers were unaware the boy had a pre-existing heart condition. Apparently, no one did at the school – and he was playing football. Raises some interesting questions about whether students should provide a clean bill of health from a doctor before participating in a sport.
Reports indicate that the chest of the boy wasn’t moving up and down. He wasn’t breathing. Linda Armstrong, a hall monitor and trained to know what to do with a defibrillator, took over. McConnell began artificial respiration, while King continued looking for a pulse. Tim Brethour, a vice principal, ran for the unit when no pulse was detected. Sam Iskandar, the school principal, relayed information to emergency personnel at 911.
Yes, Toronto Fire Services and EMS arrived. The student was taken to hospital. Now, he has an interesting story to share – and others can continue asking questions.
Wednesday, December 7th, 2011
March 31, 2010
A day Bob Copeland, Director of Athletics at the University of Waterloo will never forget. He ordered the entire football team to be tested after wide receiver Nathan Zettler was charged by police with trafficking anabolic steroids and human growth hormone. The athletic world was stunned.
June 14, 2010
Another day that rattled the nerves of Copeland, when he made the announcement that the U of Waterloo’s football team would be suspended for the 2010 season because “of the scope of the banned substance issue with the (football) team”
December 7, 2011
Almost two years after those bold steps, a strong education plan implemented and policies enforced, the U of Waterloo name – embarrassed in the biggest doping scandal in Canadian university history and nine students nailed for cheating with drugs at a prestigious institution known for academic and sports success – the black eye continues to heal.
Copeland is being recognized for some bold decisions and the work he did in cleaning up the mess.
I know Bob Copeland – and maybe not as well as others. He’s not the kind of professional who will stand up on a podium and glow at getting the prestigious “Taylor’s Award” from the Taylor Hooton Foundation in McKinney, Tex.
But he should feel proud that when the university he works at, the place he has devoted so much time and energy in helping our leaders of tomorrow, a place that was dragged through the mud by local, national and international media because of what happened, he stood firm and was determined to make a change. He did and now he’s being recognized for it.
The award will be presented to Copeland at the Ontario University Athletics annual football meeting in Toronto.
Taylor’s Award, in honour of a 17-year old student and promising athlete, committed suicide as a result of anabolic steroid use on July 15, 2003. The citation is presented to an individual “who has made a major impact on the effort to educate and protect our young people from the dangers of anabolic steroids and other appearance and performance enhancing drugs”.
Only one previous recipient has received the award: Commissioner Bud Selig of Major League Baseball in 2010.
Copeland, who has worked with the Canadian Centre for Ethics and Sport, has made a direct impact on educating the lives of many people and contributing to the health and well-being of individuals who thought they could get ahead by cheating. His role as Chairman of the OUA Performance Enhancing Drugs Task Force and in several other initiatives has addressed a serious problem.
It means much more than winning a football title.
Take a bow, Bob.
Tuesday, December 6th, 2011
Top scorers are not always on the No. 1 teams.
True, winger Phil Kessel of the Maple Leafs leads the National Hockey League in points and goals. But, the Leafs are not in first place. Eight teams also have more points. Kicker David Akers leads the National Football League in scoring, but his San Francisco 49ers are not the best team. Just ask Green Bay at 12-0.
At the amateur level, it’s much of the same.
With one exception, and it’s a tie, the top scoring athletes in the Ontario University and Ontario Colleges leagues are not on the teams that are in first place. Defining the “best” teams can always be a lengthy debate. I’ll leave that to the discussion boards and social media.
I glanced through the data provided on the websites of the OUA and OCAA. Let’s assume the numbers are all accurate. I say that because there have been some serious flaws in past.
Basketball, both women and men in the OCAA and OUA, have something in common with hockey – and Canada’s National winter sport is only played in a league in provincial universities. Costs appear to be the big factor in the disappearance of hockey at colleges.
As league schedules halt for the Holiday Season, five of the six major sports have scoring leaders not on the top teams. Should say something about team work.
Keaton Turkiewicz is a right winger with the University of Western Ontario. He leads the OUA men’s league with 30 points (11 goals and 19 assists) in 16 hockey games. Yes, Western has a record of 13-1-2 and tied with McGill for the best team.
But go to women’s hockey, where Laurier has a 13-0-1 record, and the leading scorer is Queen’s forward Morgan McHaffie, a fourth year forward, with 13 goals and 16 helpers for 29 points. Queen’s, defending league champs, are in third place with a 10-3-2 record and lost to Laurier – twice.
Off to the hardwood and basketball.
Toronto-born Hannah Sunley-Paisley is a fifth year player at the University of Ottawa. She’s at the top averaging 21.62 points a game. Has 173 points so far. But move over to St. Catharines and Brock University is the only undefeated team in the OUA with an 8-0 record.
On the men’s side, third year player Enrico Diloreto leads the OUA averaging 24 points a game for the University of Windsor. The Lancers have a 5-3 record and, maybe, because he’s missed a few games with an injury. Carleton, the defending champs, are unbeaten at 8-0.
On the College scene, Rob Gagliardi, a rookie at Durham after transferring from Canisius in Buffalo, leads the OCAA men’s league with 25.6 points a game for the 4-5 Oshawa-based college. But, it’s Centennial that’s in top spot with an 8-1 record. And, Nakia Arthur, a guard at Sheridan leads the women’s point scoring column averaging 25.1 a game for the 7-2 Bruins. Seneca holds down No. 1 with a 7-0 record.
Monday, December 5th, 2011
We have all seen it happen: coaches try not to get carried away at a game and things just happen.
Maybe there is a place for it in the professional level, although I am not so sure as many coaches at the university, college, high school and minor league teams, do the same thing.
Not sure if it is part attitude, bit of personality, maybe trying to stir up the sagging performance of a team or player, some reaction to an incident by an official or an athlete or just a bit of entertainment and showmanship.
People go to games to watch and far too many times the focus is on the display of the man or woman in charge of a team. Don’t get me wrong, there is a time and place to react. But, there is also an appropriate way, too.
Gone to so many games where there are signs and papers given out about a code of conduct for players, spectators, parents. Rarely do I see anything about the way coaches should do their thing.
We have some fabulous coaches in the amateur world of sport. Well respected, admired by many.
There is also a responsibility on the part of fellow coaches, their leagues, associations and the higher ups to enforce it – and not with a simple tap on the shoulder.
Yes, we rely on volunteers. Hear that all the time – for everything. Doesn’t mean that volunteers have the right to behave like morons, lose their composure – and, especially, in front of the people they are trying to teach and help.
The motivation and excitement can be high, especially in playoff games or against key opponents, but behaviour by coaches should be controllable, positive and helpful.
People make hundreds of decisions every day. No one is perfect. A mistake by a game official, or a player, shouldn’t give a coach the opportunity to be overly animated on the sidelines or in front of a bench. You’ve seen it: hands flapping, face red, papers thrown, inappropriate verbiage and more. Not sure what’s next?
I think the educational system, as it pertains to sport, needs work.
Some people disagree. Some nod their head in support, but ignore doing things – because they lack the leadership to fix things for the better. Society is having problems with respect and though it’s not going to be easy, people – and that
includes coaches – have to work at maintaining respect in sport.
We have all sorts of coaching organizations and administrations. Wouldn’t it be nice if they all spoke the same message – and then worked to ensure people understand it?
Still can’t figure out coaches who have to scream in a minor league hockey game or coaches, especially in high school basketball games, who stand up, shake their heads, parade around and fume like youngsters who didn’t get their way.
Coach, yes, but in an appropriate way.