By Sean Fitz-Gerald
HALIFAX — The Ryerson men’s basketball team wasn’t alone in Halifax as more than 50 die-hard fans from Toronto filled the stands for both Rams’ games.
Leona Mouliakis, who works at the RAC, has been following the Rams for about 11 years. She paid more than $900 for the trip — $346 for her flight and $96 a night for the hotel.
“It’s an amazing thing and I couldn’t miss being a part of history,” Mouliakis said.
If you were to go to a Rams home game, you would usually see Ryerson professor John Easton sitting near Mouliakis.
Easton teaches applied chemistry and biology and has been an aid Rams fan for more than 20 years. He said he remembers season when the Rams were lucky to string two wins together.
To travel to Halifax for the Ram’s first appearance in a national championship tournament last Friday, Easton had to come up with an excuse to get out of his classes.
“I did have to cancel two classes,” Easton said. “My grandmother died — this is the fourth time.”
Last Saturday, hours before the Rams played the Bishop’s Gaiters in the consolation semi-final, president Claude Lajeunesse held a breakfast in honour of the team at the Sheraton Hotel.
“I want you guys to know that there will be another celebration for you when you all get back to Toronto,” Lajeunesse said, decked out in a blue Ryerson sweater.
“This is something you cannot pay for,” Lajeunesse said after the team had left for the Halifax Metro Centre. “This is the type of publicity like [Titanic director James] Cameron last year and other public events where Ryerson has been in the news for its accomplishments.”
Tom Birchall, a 1972 graduate, picked Lajeunesse up from the airport. Birchall said the Rams’ OUA East victory means more than a trip to the national championships.
“From an alumnus point of view, I think it draws the strong a little tighter back to Ryerson. The more we can draw the string back to Ryerson with the alumnus, the better it is for the university because it helps us in terms of support financially,” he said.
Besides fans from Toronto, some of the team had family members staying in Halifax who came out to the games.
After the final game against Bishop’s, head coach Terry Haggerty’s father Bob broke down in tears while talking to a reporter about departing seniors Dave Petropolous, Brian Smith and Rob Armstrong.
“It was a really good show,” Haggerty’s father said. “I was especially pleased that Dave and Brian and Rob got to play a championship team. It was a really tremendous season for them.”