The Lower the Numbers, The More the Heart

By: Jon Reed

20 minutes a day. 80 minutes a week. This is how much time is wasted with the Norseman Senior football team having to trek to Eglinton Park for practice every day. About ten minutes there, ten back. Twenty minutes. That doesn’t seem like much. But then you have four practices a week and about 24 players. That means 32 man hours are wasted because there is no home field. Sure this can’t be avoided but just think how much of advantage other teams have. Those 32 hours a week add up. Those hours are partially made up with lunch time practices but still, that’s a lot of wasted time. Thankfully next year we can look forward to a field next to our new school now however the players say that the new school really doesn’t make a difference for them, “No the new school doesn’t make a difference. Down the road when we have a new field the team will benefit… but as for now, no difference for our football team”, says Robbie Grant.  Coach Hood agrees with him. He feels that it will make a difference for the future because the field will make the school have more of an athletic focus.

Walking to the park everyday is one thing but the lack of facilities the team has to deal with is another. The old school at least offered a designated football change room. It was there since the school started and smelt like it, and seemed like it had never been cleaned, but the football team could still call it their own. So when they heard of the $52 million dollars going into the new school they must have been excited for the new clean change room they were going to get. “$52 million,” they thought, “How expensive can a new change room be.” As it was very soon brought to the attention of the football players, the upgrade that they had been anticipating was about 4 parking spaces. Wow! Tridel sure did spurge! Apparently though it isn’t affecting the football players too badly, Zack Bader-Shamai explains, “It’s actually not too bad, except when you got to the parking lot to get your pads and you accidentally lock yourself in. Tyler Corlett hasn’t quite been in Zack’s situation but he does feel using the parking isn’t amazing, “The setup this year isn’t great, but we are dealing with it and its working fine.” No home field, and a parking lot to keep equipment in. The footbal team is managing with many issues but the biggest one of all is the lack of players.

The Norseman Senior Football team has less than 25 players. That means that if five people miss practise than 20% of the team is gone. Northern has almost 100 players. Do you think if they have five players missing anyone even notices? No! But with about three or four people injured and four or five people missing practise it means that there isnt enough for an full offense and defense. North Toronto may be a small school but that doesn’t mean they should have low numbers like this. Probably the main reason is because the grads say they want to focus on their studies. But while you see the football players walking in front of the school to practice one can see a number of grade twelves who played last year sitting on that wooden area near the front. They sure are hitting the books aren’t they! Coach Hood was initially disapointed by how few players came out but that feeling was soon changed when he saw the quality of the players that he did have. Tyler Corlett says that having low numbers can help them, “Well, it isn’t necessarily better to have 35 guys on the team and to have only 27 show up on a given day. I think its better to have 25 guys on our team and to have them all show up everyday. This year we all have to be much more fit and versatile as most players will be playing on both sides of the ball due to the low numbers.” Robbie was also disapointed with the lack of players but was then happy to see who was playing, “All the people that did join the team brought energy, commitment, and heart. The ones we lost wouldn’t have matched that. I don’t think we’ve suffered much.” Still with so few players it will be hard for the Senior Football Team to play when they can’t have a full scrimage in practise, and the question is there whether the few number of players will effect the teams overall success. Pat Russell just thinks that it really just means that more players will have to step up, “It could hurt us in the 4th quarter when guys are hurt and/or tired. All that means though is that guys have to step up like we did in the 4th against malvern.” In that game against Malvern many players had to play offense and defense. They stepped up to the challenge when they were tired and hurting and the team was able to pull out a 14-11 win with a kick return touch down by Nick Giancola. The team showed that low numbers didn’t make a difference.

No matter what the outcome of the season no one can say that the team didn’t give it there all. They managed without a home field, a proper changeroom, and with a small team. Coach LaVance said it best, “You have to be right between the ears.” He explained that another team can have more players, can be bigger, or can be stronger, but the most important thing of all is to know that you are going to win. To go into a game saying that you are going to win that game and leave everything you have on that football field. Coach Hood describes the team in two words. One word being tenacity . And the other which Coach Eddie agrees with is heart. If its one thing the team has its heart. A team of less than twently five playing like they are over a hundred. Hood says, “The low numbers don’t make a difference. I would happily go to war with this team anyday.”