Yells from players, clacks of sticks, and groans by coaches. The referee blows his whistle for half-time. North Toronto Girls Field Hockey Team B is down 1-0 to Harbord CI. Coaches clap as the players exit the field. High-fives and hugs ensue around NT’s bench. This game is not like the rest, this is North Toronto’s first home game in sixty years.
This new turf playing field now lies where 70 Roehampton, the original school of NT, once stood. North Toronto has always been known for above average academics, but sub-standard athletics. The athletics department has been severely hindered by NT’s sub-standard, and at times, non-existent, field. Athletics is one key element of having a well-rounded education. Team building and getting to know your teammates and peers prepares students for situations on and off the field. “When my mother attended North Toronto, both the school facility and the athletic field were in poor condition,” pointed out Toronto City Councillor, Josh Matlow, “and that was many years ago.” But now, NT students finally have a field that matches our level of academics.
G.A.A. President, Daisy Burns, reminisced: “When you play on the [new] field, it feels like you are walking through the old hallways of NT,” she points towards the field, “there’s the swimming pool, there’s the gym.” It is the end of an era, but the beginning of a new future.
In the fieldhockey game, the girls form a huddle and chant “N-T-C-I” as they bounce together as a cohesive unit awaiting the second half of play.
Excursions toEglintonParkfor gym classes and school teams haunted even the fiercest athletes on the field. B.A.A. President and Senior Football Quarterback, Jack Hull, was at a loss for words regarding the new field: “Unbelievable. It’s everything you could ever ask for in a field. Field of dreams.” Now, NT arguably has the best field in the whole city.
“[The field] is fantastic,” comments Mr. Smith, Head of the Physical Education Department. “This field has exceeded all expectations. I find it tranquil to be [on the field]… I don’t even remember a school [being] here. But I don’t like the score!” Mr. Smith’s message certainly got across to the girls once play resumed.
The field is decked out with red and grey end zones which spell NTCI, football uprights, multipurpose sport lines, and a scoreboard. North Toronto’s intuitive Student Council President, Isaac Marlow-Dilworth enjoys “how the yellow sports lines compliment the green field … it reminds [him] of that Lil’Waynesong, Green and Yellow.” Mr. President then belts out the chorus, turning heads in the process; some sing along, others stare with bewilderment strewn across their faces. Regardless, all eyes are fixated on the game, as the girls hustle hard to try and even up the score.
NT has a long-lived rivalry with our neighbours from down the street, Northern. Without having a home field for over half a century, NTCI used to play their home games in enemy territory by using the Northern field as their home field. With a new home field comes strong support from students, staff, parents, and the NT community. And as all sports fans know, fans are an integral part for any sports team.
“With the orientation of the NTCI field right through from Broadway to Roehampton, it provides the community with a wonderful green space,” states St. Paul’s School Trustee, Shelley Laskin, “and when [the field] is not used by students… organizations are able to permit the field through the Board for sporting and other activities. [The field is] a wonderful community asset.”
The NT girls are playing resilient field hockey as their afterburners accelerate them into another gear. They stop the ball, take it down the sides, and make lovely crisp passes to one another. Harbord’s defence is getting pressed and they become stagnant. Finally, the breakthrough occurs.
Last year, one man who looked out onto the construction of the field day in and day out was Girls Field Hockey coach and former NT teacher, a legend in his own right, Mr. Johnston. “Sixty years of no field at all, and on top of that, sixty years of no home field. For people like Mr. Smith and Ms. Chamberlain, who was a student here, this is a big deal,” Johnston expressed. “For me, it’s a huge acceptance by people that in the city we need field turf, that natural grass just doesn’t do it. If the grass is not maintained, it doesn’t do the job. Having artificial turf, especially for a game of field hockey, it’s huge.” Even though Mr. Johnston retired from teaching last year, he still plays a vital role in coaching field hockey and leading the girls to success every year.
Cheers from the crowd envelope the spectators as the girls knot up the game and celebrate NT’s first ever goal on the new field.
“The bottom line is, the new field at NT symbolizes a much needed revitalization for the school,” Josh Matlow says.” This field merits the excellence of students and staff at North Toronto Collegiate Institute.”
“I am thrilled for the NTCI students and the entire school community with the completion of the NTCI projects,” said School Trustee, Shelley Laskin. “It could never have happened without the support and advice of students, parents, staff, the local ratepayers, NTCI Foundation, and the local Councillors, both past and present.”
While the first game on home field ended in a 1-1 tie, the second game of the double header saw North Toronto Girls Field Hockey Team A shutout Leaside HS, 4-0. And so North Toronto goes undefeated on the opening day of the new field. Oh hail,North Toronto.