UBC's football team wins the Vanier Cup. Photo: Sean Fitz-Gerald

Grins, girdirons & Gatorade

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By Shi Davidi

I came to Ryerson with dreams of covering a national championship Rams team. But I know that will never happen during my university years. So instead I dream of covering a home game where there are more Ryerson fans than supporters for the visiting team. But even this seems like a fantasy.

In a sense, covering the Vanier Cup made my championship dreams come true. But would Ryerson students care about a Canadian championship football game between the University of Ottawa Gee Gees and the University of British Columbia Thunderbirds? I’d have to find something different to write about — a new angle. But what?

A minute into the game I made friends with the editor of the Western Gazette. “So the student council paid for my air fare to Lakehead to cover a tournament,” he told me, “and the best part was they sent this gorgeous brunette with me to take pictures. You couldn’t get the smile off my face.”

I wondered if he’d be impressed by my trip to Queen’s in the back of the men’s volleyball team van. I decided not to share the story.

I then spotted Jim “Shaky” Hunt across the press box. I thought the veteran Sun sports columnist might remember Ryerson’s glorious football moments. “No,” he laughed, “I don’t remember anything about Ryerson football. Unfortunately there’s no one here that might.”

Damn. It was now half-time. UBC was up 19-7. I still had no idea what to write about. I met up with Eyeopener photographer Sean Fitz-Gerald. I hoped he had an idea for me.

“Shi,” he called, with drool dripping  from his chin, “you have to check out the Gatorade girl. She’s sooooooo hot.”

An idea came to me as I placed a cup under his chin to keep drool from staining the press box’s lovely carpet. Let’s hit on cheerleaders, I thought. What this had to do with a story I didn’t know, but it seemed like the right thing to do.

We reached the field as the third-quarter started. But some cheering distracted me from the action on the field. It was the Ottawa cheerleaders. Solid.

“Hi, I’m from the paper, do you have time to answer a couple of quick questions?” I asked. Excited, a group of six replied “sure.” Yah baby!

I asked them if they were still upbeat even though the Gee Gees were getting killed. It’s 29-7 UBC.

“Of course, we believe in our Gee Gees,” a cute little brunette replied. The other cheered.

After being chased away from the girls, I chatted with Ottawa’s student council rep, Keen.

She told me two bus loads of students had come up for the game. Keen said average attendance for football games at Ottawa is 1,500. I told her all Ryerson teams don’t total that many fans a year. Thinking I was joking, she laughed.

Now I was ready to meet the Gatorade Goddess Sean told me about. I stepped up to her and asked, “are you with UBC or with Gatorade?” she told me she was with Gatorade. “Are you at many CIAU events?” “Gatorade is at most football events,” she said. I can’t wait for the next season.

Then Sean and I spotted Lisa Bowes, weekend host of TSN’s Sportsdesk, just up the sidelines. At last, an opportunity to settle the eternal debate: Hot or not? When I approached her, the answer was clear — hot. I asked her to pose for a picture. “Is this sort of a ‘guess who you can run into at the Vanier Cup’ story?” she asked. “Uh, yah,” I told her. She put her arm around me and I put mine around her. Sean took a couple of shots. Yah baby.

But it was no time for an ego trip. We had to find the Vanier Cup. There was nine minutes left in the game and UBC led 39-7. I had to get my hands on it before the Thunderbirds did.

We found the Vanier Cup on a cart by the dressing rooms. I asked the guards if I could pose for a quick photo with it. They agreed but I wasn’t allowed to lift the Cup from the cart. I wrapped my arms around it. Sean snapped a couple of photos, and we were off. Sweet.

With three minutes left, the Gee Gees scored two quick touchdowns but it wasn’t nearly enough. The Thunderbirds stormed the field, claiming the 33rd Vanier Cup, 39-23.

Sean and I followed the celebration to the Thunderbirds’ dressing room. Players hugged each other and drank champagne from the Cup, savouring a national championship.

We decided to leave. This wasn’t our party, even though we wished it was. Perhaps one day it will be for Ryerson. I know it will never be for us.

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