By Sean Fitz-Gerald
Eggy seemed harmless when he asked me to try out for sports at Ryerson. He looked sincere, so innocent and tremendously cute. I eagerly answered yes, scurrying to write the try-out dates in my notepad. I was pumped and ready for action. Who knew this was just a sick, diabolical plan devised by Eggy to humiliate me.
I borrowed a friend’s racquet and strode into the gym with all the confidence in the world. I played badminton in high school. Hey, I was badminton champion of my grade nine gym class—these guys could never keep up with me.
Coach Joe Xavier sent his veteran players to warm up on one side of the gym while he watched is hungry rookies show off our skills. He asked us to find a partner and start a friendly rally. He told us to relax because he wasn’t judging our level of play until later in the practice. This was just a warm-up. So I shook hands with my partner and we started to play.
Five minutes into the rally I was sore all over. Apparently my training regimen of beer and cigarettes was beginning to fail me. Coach Xavier saw this and looked our way. “Thank god!” I thought. “He’s going to have us start a game.” Instead he pulled me off the floor and made me sit on the bench while my partner went on to play in a doubles match.
I sat near tears for almost a half-hour before I realized my university badminton career was over. So I gathered my belongings limped out into the night for a cigarette and a beer.
My next try-out was with the varsity hockey team. I tried to put the badminton debacle behind me as I rode the subway to St. Mike’s Arena.
Friends warned me not to try out for Hockey. “You’re gonna get killed,” they said. “They’ll open a big can of whupass on your head.” They didn’t understand how determined I was to make a Ryerson team.
I am roughly six-feet tall and weigh around 190 pounds. I also played a great deal of non-contact house league hockey in high school.
Surely I would fit right in as a finesse player on this team, right?
I walked around the arena looking for Coach Louie Carnevale. During my search I walked by some of the biggest guys I have ever seen in my life, but I wasn’t worried. A team that finishes a horrible 7-24-2 last year couldn’t have behemoths like these playing on the ice.
I found Coach Carnevale and explained that while I had never played contact hockey before, I was confident I could keep up with the guys. “Well, you can try it, but I would hate to see you get hurt.”
Just as he finished, a giant gorilla masquerading as a hockey player bounded by me and I decided to heed Coach Carnevale’s advice and hang up my skates. The idea of being in a body cast slurping food through a straw for the rest of my life was enough to send me running.
I walked into the fencing office eager and desperate. Fencing was my last hope of becoming a Ryerson jock. I asked the lady sitting behind the desk if I could join the team.
When she asked me if I was a fencer I replied. “No, but I am a very quick learner.” The old bag told me I couldn’t fence for my school unless I take a 10-week training course at the RAC. What kind of help could I be to Eggy if I couldn’t fence until mid-November?
Angry and brokenhearted, I decided I would give up on my dream of wearing the Ryerson blue and gold. I guess I’ll just have to be content riding the pine in intramurals with a beer in one hand and a smoke in the other.