Changing Times: History of NTCI Girls’ Sports

Alex Karageorgos


Labor Omnia Vincit: Hard work conquers all. This statement
rings true for the progression of girls athletics at North Toronto Collegiate
Institute since the school opened its doors in 1912.

During the early years of the school, intermural boys’
sports were more prominent than girls’. Although these intermural sporting activities
were enjoyed by the student body, the girls’ athletics movement had not taken
full flight. This was due to poor athletic facilities and differentiated public
perception of the role of women, and girls, at the time.

At the beginning of the 1920’s, girls’ sports were
officially introduced and coached. Girls finally had the opportunity to
represent their school and wear the North Toronto colours of Red and Grey
proudly. The girls teams were extremely competitive, especially through the
successes of the Girls’ Basketball team as they went on to win several titles for
the duration of the twenties.

It is also important to note that inaugural year of the
Girls Athletic Association started in the twenties. Like then, today’s mission
of the G.A.A. is to organize and encourage girls’ sports.

The opening of NTCI’s new athletic field in October of 1931 brought substantiated excitement to the sporting sphere. When the
field was being constructed, student athletes had to travel to Pear’s Park, now
known today as Eglinton Park, to practice. Stunning comparisons can be made
from the thirties as this trend appeared once again between the years 2008-2011
where students also had travel to Eglinton Park for their practices while the
old school was being torn down to make way for the new state-of-the-art playing
surface. This field attributed to the appearance of soccer teams, a new facet
of sports at North Toronto.

Academic prowess was a pivotal decider in
whether or not girls would have the privilege to play for the school. These
academic guidelines were a minimum of 60-percent on both Christmas and Easter
exams in order to participate in one major (varsity) and two minor (intermural)
sports teams.

Girls’ athletics blossomed after the Second World War when several teams were developed, including: archery, badminton, ping-pong, riding and tumbling. Also, athletically gifted girls were recognized with four different ranks of seniority with athletics. Girls achieved pins by playing for one team on a winning year, a pentagon crest for the second year, wings added to the said crest for the third year and the
service crest for the fourth year.

An issue of the Red and Grey (RAG) published in 1949 read: “There are enough different sports on-the-go that nearly every girl is found
participating in at least one of them.” The tides definitely turned with
regards to girls’ sports when the fifties rolled around.

A great addition to NTCI in the fifties was the new school pool that helped the girls, and boys, when it came to swimming for Phys. Ed and teams. Prior to the opening of the school pool, students swam at Northern SS and Allenby Junior Public School until 1957. Due to the old auditorium being transformed into the Boys’ gym in 1956, the girls’ primarily used the small gym on the second floor of the school.

An early form of Grade 9 Welcome Day was
formed by the G.A.A. through new students sharing stories with the senior girl
students while they partook in little games or underwent the Hall of Horrors in and around the basement corridors. Girls also had their separate athletic banquet which
consisted of the presentation of pins, crests, wings and the Female Athlete of
the Year who was awarded the Ostrander Trophy.

By the 1963-64 school year, the G.A.A. organized
interschool basketball and swimming leagues and competitions. A rewarding
product that came out of these early intermural activities was the four
championship success of the NTCI swim team, which consisted mostly of girl
swimmers. Later in the sixties, varsity volleyball and track and field became a
facet in girls’ sporting life. The influence of girls’ athletics grew within
the school but they still only received half of the recognition and publicity
that the boys got in the sixties’ pentagon yearbooks.

In the seventies, NTCI as a whole was
recognized for being an athletic powerhouse with several city championships and
OFSAA accomplishments. Unfortunately, great results by girls who ran in cross
country and track and field were overshadowed by the Senior Boys’ Football Team
two successive TSSAA championships in 1976-77 and 1977-78.

The trend of growing girls’ athletics
continued into the 1980’s where the girls gym (better known as the small gym on
the second floor) was renamed the upper gym and the boys gym was renamed the
lower gym, removing the gender titles associated with both gyms. The biggest
triumph for girls’ athletics at North Toronto was thanks in part to Student
Council of 1985-86 who gave the vying G.A.A. the same financial support as the
Boys’ Athletic Association. In the coming decades, with more money at their
disposal, the G.A.A. reached heights never seen before.

Girls’ athletics in the nineties were
executed with such cunning and panache as the G.A.A. promoted female leadership
concerning girls’ sports inside the hallways and outside school grounds. This
started off with pancake breakfasts, which still go on today, and the NT Leadership
2000 program which united 250 girls across 40 schools in Toronto. Leadership
2000 were co-organized by two female NT students: Heather Strupat and Jo Leech,
who was also an avid writer and former Sports Editor for Graffiti in the

Trophies were won at a staggering rate in
the nineties with the ever-dominant Girls’ Field Hockey and Girls’ Hockey Team winning
city championships with ease. Also, girls’ badminton teams sent numerous
players to OFSAA. Both girls and boys sports in the nineties were plagued by
the work-to-rule campaign which restricted teachers in coaching sports teams
and co-ordinating intermurals, putting a damper of fall sports, specifically in

Due to the hard-work and dedication of
former NT teacher Mr. Johnston, the new millennium and 2000’s were the high
times for Girls’ Field Hockey. Throughout the decade, the team travelled far
and wide to places like Ottawa, Bermuda and Cuba to compete in tournaments. In
2008, the Girls’ Field Hockey Team clinched their third city championship in
four years and headed to OFSAA for the fourth year running. Even today, Mr.
Johnston’s winning attitude and passion for the game of field hockey has led
the girls in the right direction.

Continuing the tradition of girl’s athletics at North Toronto Collegiate Institute is running stronger than ever with a new school and new facilities which rings in a new era: the best has yet to come.