Archive for May, 2012
Thursday, May 31st, 2012
She’s one of the best teenage power hitters in Ontario.
Let’s not forget passing, serving and some stellar defensive play.
We’re talking about volleyball and Ali Woolley and Havergal College in Toronto.
The all-girls private school didn’t appear to have much difficulty coming up with its Athlete of the Year. Woolley, going to the University of Calgary in the fall to study and play volleyball, was the choice.
She’s been a leader on a volleyball team that won championships in all four years at Havergal. That’s the Conference of Independent Schools Athletic Association title.
Woolley, and her beach volleyball partner, will be spending some time this summer in Cyprus representing Canada at the World under 19 championship.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
The Big Blue machine has spoken.
Yes, Toronto’s Upper Canada College – one of the finest independent/private schools in this country – had to make a tough choice at the year end get-to-gether to decide the top male athlete of the year.
Brent MacKay, Director of Athletics and his coaching fraternity (likely others too) had some tough candidates. Two stood out.
Would it be Charles Lapierre – dominant in football, hockey and tennis?
Or would it be Seamus Power – also a leader in football, basketball, track and baseball?
The envelope please.
The winner: Lapierre and Power. In case you’re wondering, they each get an award.
We can spend some time elaborating on their achievements. Let’s stick to some major stuff. Power was MVP in football and basketball as well as team captain in both and is going to Bowdoin College in Brunswick, Maine to study and play football.
As for Lapierre, also a captain and for three team sports, he was on Conference of Independent Schools league championship teams in hockey and tennis. He’ll be playing Tier Two Junior hockey next year.
Wednesday, May 30th, 2012
One of the things I have done for close to four decades, is single out the annual high school “Athletes of the Year” in the Greater Toronto Area. Not easy, but it gets done.
It’s important to toot the horn of these fine young people. Sometimes we get help from schools and teachers. Sometimes we don’t – and I simply can’t figure out why they would ignore public recognition for such a wonderful thing – when I tend to be alone in the major media market for an initiative like this.
One school that never misses out, and explains why it has such a great reputation in this country, is Toronto’s St. Michael’s College School. Great in academics. Great in sports. Great in coaches. Great in student athletes. Yes, I am partial to SMCS and it goes beyond the beautiful award of recognition the school bestowed on me when I retired a few years ago from30 years as a newspaper journalist.
Strictly radio and TV now.
So, when news came my way about the top male athlete of the year at St. Mike’s, I thought about it. Then, realized, no big surprise.
Danny Demyanenko is the winner.
A multi-sport athlete, excelling in volleyball and swimming, he’s off to the University of California at Los Angeles. Some people know it as UCLA. There, he will study Physiological Science at one of the best schools on the continent. Yes, plans to be a doctor.
I have spoken to Demyanenko several times. Had him on my SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN Sunday Morning show when he was in his early years at St. Mike’s. Some of his many accomplishments: 15 gold medals in the Conference of Independent Schools league and 10 at the provincial level, will have been part of 14 tournament victories. You see where I am going.
Talented and a great role model. Not to take anything away from other candidates of this big award. St. Mike’s always has difficulty picking one guy. This time, don’t believe many can put up an argument.
Demyanenko didn’t just star at St. Mike’s. He won numerous National and Provincial medals with his club volleyball team, chosen to the Canadian National under 19 and 21 teams – as a 17-year old – and competed on the World stage. And, I haven’t even mentioned his awards in the pool.
Well done, Danny. Good luck as a UCLA Bruin.
Tuesday, May 29th, 2012
Just a couple of days and we end another month – May.
Thought it would be a good idea to clean up the desk and see what items are worth sharing, maybe add a few comments, talk about issues and things of interest. No special order, just in case you may have wondered.
Reid Acton. We had him on the Sunday Morning show talking about his success in lacrosse at Loyola University in Baltimore. More than success. Acton can now say he was on the first NCAA gold medal championship in lacrosse in the history of the small school – and the Toronto native has been a huge factor in the Greyhounds success. Loyola beat State rival Maryland 9-3 in Foxborough, Mass. Crowd size: 30,816. That number is accurate. Just one more thing, lacrosse is Canada’s National summer sport – and this country doesn’t even have a National university league.
Eastern Commerce. Two words and it conjures up images of some darn good basketball players and teams at the Toronto high school that barely stays open with a few hundred students. Well, former Eastern coach and great guy Kareem Griffin decided it would be a good idea to put together a “Battle of the Generations” event on Saturday, June 16 at Jarvis Collegiate in Toronto. Some immaculate talent, alumni as they say, showing up. Female basketball stars include Vanessa Kabongo and Lee Anna Osei while the male guys are Jermaine Anderson, Tristan Blackwood, Jamaal Magloire and more.
Was at the Toronto District School Board girls rugby finals the other day. Malvern won again. Something like three or four straight titles. This time, beat Newtonbrook 31-5. Have to say, these young gals don’t hold back when it comes right down to tackling – with only a mouth guard as protection. On the day of the final, I think the therapists and medical staff on duty were busier than anyone else. Lots of injuries, albeit minor, but players falling like flies because of dehydration. Anyone selling water would have done very well. Didn’t see any trustees or Board officials out to support players.
This is the weekend to make a trip to the famous Henley course near St. Catharines. It’s the Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association championships. Yes, 67th annual. While people think this is a sport for the rich and famous, not so. Lots of publicly funded schools will be at this event – from across Canada and some from the United States. Toronto’s Upper Canada College has done very well at these events and there’s no reason to think things will change this time.
One last thing. Beach volleyball – the high school version. Yes, Karen Pak – a very good athlete and now a teacher in Toronto – is behind this big event set for Ashbridges Bay on May 30th. I’ll be going down to check out the action. Who knows, might even continue my streak of watching teenage athletes develop in to future Olympians. Then again, might just build some sand castles.
Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012
Cartwright High School.
Other than residing in, or near, the small community of Blackstock, about a one hour drive northeast of Toronto, the likelihood is you have never heard of this school – one that is famous.
The school is 88 years old and just might be the oldest publicly-funded high school in Canada. Student population is about 100. I’m not joking.
So, when I started my campaign to seek out the names of the top high school athletes of the year in the Greater Toronto Area – something unique happened. For the first time in almost 40 years, one high school submitted its athlete of the year – in mid May. It has always been mid-June giving teachers, coaches and others to tinker with personal choices, politics and who they think should get the nod.
Suffice to say, the decision at Cartwright – part of the Durham District School Board – was a quick one.
Kudos to Rob Hanna for getting us the information quickly and in a manner that shows he cares about the student and his accomplishments, and giving the youngster an opportunity to be recognized at SPORTSNET 590 THE FAN, rather than just throwing a name on a piece of paper.
Connor Owttrim is the male Athlete of the Year.
Small school, but he did get recognition for participating in many intramural sports. Owttrim, a captain with good leadership skills, played ice hockey, badminton, floor ball, volleyball and ball hockey. He also coached and was a referee in the Blackstock Minor Hockey Association. He did the same in soccer with the Cartwright Soccer Association.
Female athlete of the year went to Megan Green.
Busy gal, she played beach and regular volleyball, badminton, ball hockey and something called “floorball”. That’s in addition to a variety of intramural sports. Holdmon, there’s more.
Green was on the school Athletic and Student Councils, Diversity Day Leader, aspoke out about “Bullying” and a participant in a variety of races and walks to help charities.
Tuesday, May 22nd, 2012
Can you imagine 100,000 people taking part in something that is all about fitness?
The Toronto District School Board, the largest of its kind in Canada, has organized its inaugural “Fit For Life Fun Run”. About 5km, and at Downsview Park in Toronto. Shouldn’t be any issues with people fuming about road closures. Time of the year bodes well for participation.
The question: who will take part?
I wonder how many will be teachers, administrators, students, school Board staff? If everyone who gets a pay cheque from the TDSB shows up, that’s a great start. Won’t happen. If students, and not just the track stars attend, another boost.
This should be mandatory for students – and endorsed by the Board. Otherwise, why stage it?
There’s no rule stating you have to run. Can walk it, too.
And, it’s open to the public.
You’ve heard this many times before, “healthy students are better able to learn”. The event is also raising funds for nutrition programs across the Board to help give students a healthy start to the day. The TDSB calls it a celebration of health and physical activity. Can’t go wrong with that – especially for all those folks who should drop a few pounds.
I find that whenever there’s something for free, a towel, a shirt, a drink, bottled water (people like freebies), it attracts folks. So, kudos to the school Board organizers for arranging for everyone – who actually takes part - to get a free voucher for a Toronto Argonaut pre-season game. That’s the one on June 19th against the Montreal Alouettes. Kick-off at 12 Noon.
Either the Argos are desperate to fill the empty seats at the Rogers Centre or their planning to fill the joint with school kids may be a bit too optimistic. Doubt teachers (even those marking high school exams), administrative or support staff will take the day off work?
And there’s more. Interesting, too.
The Board has struck a deal with St. Clair College for an entrance scholarship (open to students in grades 8 through 11), to the Windsor-based post-secondary institution. Here’s how this works. Students in the run automatically get their names entered and officials will award two scholarships, each for $2,500, that must be used within a four-year window.
No, no draws for free trips or cars.
But it is an event that many people can get involved in and certainly with a goal of improving health.
Friday, May 18th, 2012
It appears that the Tyler Varga wild goose chase now has taken a turn for Durham, North Carolina.
Varga, this past year, had people chasing him all over the football field as he scrambled and rushed for big yards, lots of touchdowns and an overall award winning rookie year with the University of Western Ontario Mustangs – now re-branded as just the Western University Mustangs.
Everyone, including yours truly, was led to believe that the former Western University running back and Canadian university rookie of the year had enough of being a Mustang and was galloping to Yale University in New Haven, Conn. Heck, even the Yale website has him listed.
Reliable sources say – not so.
Even though the prestigious Yale and the academically gifted Varga are a match – things would be a lot better if the young man spilled the beans and set the record straight.
Varga is also a match for Duke.
A grad from Cameron Heights in Kitchener before hustling off to Western, Varga is one smart guy and he knows what to do with a football.
Seems that a friend of his, who went to high school at Resurrection High in the same part of Ontario, is at Duke playing sports. So, could this be the attraction to the Blue Devils?
Then again, as we know, things have a way of changing.
For now, bet on the school with the four letters.
That’s Duke and not Yale – or is it Yale and not Duke?
Time will tell.
Thursday, May 17th, 2012
McGill University, an excellent educational institution in Montreal, wants out of the Quebec football league.
They want in to the Ontario University Athletics.
I say, like others, why not?
McGill is in the OUA for men’s hockey (and won the National championship, too), but whether the Redmen actually get to play in 2013, when Carleton returns to football, remains the decision of more than just the OUA. A big say will come from the guys and gals with the big salaries – the Presidents of the Ontario Universities who must approve of something like this.
It’s not just a rubber stamp. But, from what I have been told by reliable people, McGill, with a healthy endowment fund for football including a $1.5 million gift last year from grad and entrepreneur Robert Wiinsor, will be welcomed with open arms. Even if it means the Quebec politicians could start threatening cuts to schools who play other than in La Belle Province.
Interesting comments from McGill’s chief honcho Drew Love in a teleconference newser explaining the rationale and repeatedly hinting that he wants “a positive student experience”. In short, a pre-season, nine-game schedule, playoffs – is too much. Then again, McGill hasn’t had to worry about playoffs in the RSEQ.
McGill, the past four years, had a combined record of 3-31 – all three wins three years ago.
It’s fairly clear that McGill wants to recruit more in Ontario. There could also be a bigger problem with Anglophone schools in Quebec. On the gridiron, the way things are going in the OUA, McGill – if/when accepted – could challenge struggling programs at York, Waterloo, Toronto, etc. for a playoff spot.
Could even force the OUA to set up two Conferences and save monies for schools on transportation. Why not lump three of the originals: McGill, Queen’s and Toronto in the same loop.
How about an East Conference of Queen’s, Ottawa, Carleton, McGill, Toronto and York? The West made up of McMaster, Guelph, Laurier, Western, Windsor and Waterloo. Several cross over games too.
With a 12-team OUA and 15 others across the country making up the rest of Canadian university football, maybe the CIS needs to give serious thought to the OUA champ going directly to the Vanier Cup.
Quick glance through the record book. There’s McGill with a Canadian university football title beating heavily favoured University of British Columbia, 47-11 on Nov. 21, 1987 in Toronto.
Here’s the one I like. The OUA’s Yates Cup was donated by Dr. Henry B. Yates in 1898. Yates was a former McGill student, football player and Professor.
Wednesday, May 16th, 2012
Alright, so many of us have either watched in person, saw a replay or heard about the meltdown Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie had the other day after plate umpire Bill Miller somehow determined two balls were strikes.
Lawrie’s actions went viral. This was after he blew off steam - and after saying something other than “I Love You” to the umpire by tossing his helmet on the ground. Wouldn’t you know it, the helmet took an Argo bounce and hit Miller in the right hip.
Four game suspension.
Lawrie chose not to appeal.
Made for some interesting chatter all day.
We can tell that Lawrie is one wired young man. I like his fired up attitude. But, we all know, there is no excuse to making physical contact with a game official – even though it was the helmet and not a part of his body.
So, what happens when a youngster – watching all this – attempts to follow in the footsteps of his, or her, idol Mr. Lawrie – and does it at a rep league or high school game?
The kid would likely get tossed from the game. Maybe deeper penalties. Maybe a warning if player’s father puts up a good case. I have seen it happen before many times.
I often wonder what kind of coaching these youngsters get from the educational system, and even at home, prior to stepping on the diamond? The answer: likely none for many.
What about at the club or rep league level? Again, likely none.
Parents, at least those who watch, would have a few words – but likely would participate in a few words on what is right and wrong for their youngster. That is, if they’re smart and don’t tolerate these kind of shenanigans. But, we have all witnessed the actions of some parents.
Can you just imagine what would happen every time someone doesn’t get their way or, even if they are right, react in a boorish way in front of a public audience?
Lawrie blew it. He was quick to apologize. I will give him that and would wager he was told to do it too. He is paying a penalty. But, there is a more mature way in dealing with things that don’t always go your way. And youngsters, I would think, likely know better than to attempt a copycat version.
Nothing wrong with voicing an opinion, but in the right way.
Monday, May 14th, 2012
Jozsef Vadasz is counting down the days in more ways than he wants too.
He’ll celebrate his 19th birthday on Victoria Day.
But, as of now, he won’t be here to cross the stage and accept his diploma at graduation ceremonies at Toronto’s Parkdale Collegiate at the end of June.
That’s because Vadasz, his parents and two brothers, are expected to be deported on June 1 back to their native Hungary. They have been in Canada as refugees for several years and tried to get landed immigrant status – but failed.
Vadasz has been a good student academically, until his marks dropped in recent months – and there’s a good reason for that knowing the Government of Canada has told them they’re not wanted in this country.
The youngster, a striker on the Parkdale soccer team that was in the playoffs of the Toronto District School Board last year, also played club soccer in Mississauga and had a part time job. His parents were working and they all live in a two-bedroom apartment not far from the school.
I could hear the voice crack when I asked Vadasz, and I wasn’t aware at the time, where do you plan to go to university or college next year?
He hesitated, then said he wasn’t sure. Vadasz claims his family are Hungarian and gypsies. Supposedly, he claimed, the match doesn’t go well in Hungary, which is why his father spent their savings to come to Canada with the family.
Now, as Vadasz put it on the phone, their only hope is in getting assistance and raising some money to pay for a lawyer to try reverse the deportation order. But the clock is ticking.
Parkdale, with some great talent in Vadasz, has a record of one win, two losses and three ties in the Tier Two Division of soccer and in the largest school Board league in Canada.
The league final is May 30, a day Parkdale might be in the final and Vadasz packing his belongings to leave Canada – his home the past four years.
Then again, as Vadasz knows, miracles do happen.