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By Sam Israel

Fifteen athletes met in Kerr Hall Gym last week determined to dominate the Ryerson women’s basketball tryout, but one hopeful student did not make the team.

Your friendly neighbourhood journalist could only watch in horror as blond bombshells and black beauties pick and rolled through my dreams.

The first two-hour tryout was an education in suicide runs, defence exercises, I-cut, V-cut and L-cut drills, one-on-one practice and scrimmaging. But that was nothing compared to what lay ahead.

The next two nights would see hours of conditioning and weight-lifting, a two-mile run and two more gruelling tryouts. Needless to say, I threw in the towel. As I wheezed through that first tryout, I stared at the young women surrounding me.

Their bulging muscles made my scrawny limbs look diminutive. Their moves were swift and their energy never-ending, but what divided us most was their intense desire to play the game and my intense desire for a bottle of water.

At 5-foot-8, I played post for my junior high, high school, and local community centre teams, was chosen to represent Toronto in the JCC Maccabi Youth games, coached basketball at summer camp and played intramural ball at the University of Toronto.

“I’m a star,” I thought on my way to the tryout. “These girls don’t have a chance.” Days later I still can’t move, but it’s not my crushed spirit that keeps me in bed. It’s my aching neck, sore shins, bruised feet and throbbing thighs.

With school, work and family taking centre stage, I’d forgotten that I haven’t picked up a ball or worked-out in years. I’d forgotten that I now smoke half a pack a day, and who’s ever heard of having a beer without a cigarette?

Although a cigarette would never pass their lips, most Rams admit to the occasional beer and good time, but say they do the majority of their partying in the off-season.

Most nights, they hang out with friends, go out to movies, or play a game of pool. “We’re looking for players who are dedicated and committed to basketball, to the team and to academics,” head coach Sandy Pothier said at the team’s first meeting. “We’re looking for people who are loyal to each other on and off the court and give a hundred per cent, a hundred per cent of the time.”

From now until March, the team will play 28 games and five tournaments, practice three hours a day six days a week, attend team meetings and dinners, meet with coaches once a month to discuss individual goals and on their own time, maintain a level of physical fitness required of them to kick some ass.

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