By Josh Wingrove
I briefly had stalkers. Kinda. I was heading to the University of Toronto’s Varsity Arena to see our Rams play an “away game.”
The same men’s hockey teams played two nights before at Ryerson’s “home” arena in Etobicoke. As I came out of the subway, three girls were giggling and walking abnormally close to me. I spun around quickly to head to some bank machines, walking right into one of my admirers. “Whoa, uh, sorry,” I said. I squeezed past only to realize the machines were out of order. Trapped. Awkward.
“Where are you going?” “Uh, I’m getting some cash.” Or at least, I was trying to. “Oh, well, we were following you to the hockey game.” Ack. “How did you&” “You’re a reporter right? We’re on the girl’s volleyball team. I think I’ve seen you at games before.”
I still don’t know who the heavily-clad, scarf-toting athletes were, but I digress. They were all varsity athletes. My near-mugging and potential hook-up proved to be harmless, but I had to wonder-why are the only people at Ryerson games reporters and other athletes?
Ryerson has 18,000 full-time students, tens of thousands of continuing education students and is in the centre of a city of three million people-400 is a record crowd? And 400 only came to a game in the middle of the campus, where admission for students and faculty was free.
The hockey team, however, plays their home games just off Kipling Avenue in Etobicoke. Twenty-seven kilometres from campus. If you time the buses, you’ll arrive in about an hour. “My suggestion has always been go back to Moss Park,'” said men’s hockey coach Mick Mitrovic. Moss Park is an arena five blocks from campus.
It is the home rink to Ryerson’s figure skating team and to ice hockey intramurals.
“We’re in Kipling. It’s the worst location,” he said. “It’s like playing a road game every game.”
I wonder how many people pass Chris Sutton in the hallway and notice? I’m sure a few know Ontario University Athletics icons Ryan “Snake” Vandenburg of men’s volleyball, or Tamara Alleyne-Gittens of the women’s basketball team. The rookie Sutton is leading his team in scoring with 15 points. “The kids on the team, they want to have a presence on campus.
The basketball players, the volleyball players; all the kids that play on campus, everyone knows who they are, for the most part,” Mitrovic said. “They’re recognized. These guys? Not recognized at all.” A hockey team in Moss Park would have to fight for ice time with intramurals and the varsity figure skating team. “Intramurals should take a back seat. That’s it,” Mitrovic said. “They’re intramurals for god’s sake. It’s recreation.”
Regardless of where the team plays next season, their new product is more entertaining. In the first semester, the Rams scored a total of 12 goals under the defensive system of former coach Ed Kirsten.
In just four games under Mitrovic, the team has scored 15. Ryerson Athletics tries to encourage people to go to the games because they should support their school’s teams. I don’t think that’s a strong argument, in the same way that there are more convincing arguments for recycling than “because you should.” But don’t be misled. Simply put, the games are fun to watch.
Volleyball is winning, the basketball team has some really exciting players, and if you’re a hockey fan, the line of Chris Sutton, Cam O’Neill and Matt Harris is guaranteed to get you up on your feet.
So, come with me and the other atheletes to a game. It’s cheap, it’s entertaining. And, if you’re lucky, cute varsity athletes might try to mug you at a bank machine.