President and Gamer
By Cormac McGee
Steven Park rubs his hands on his blue jeans, then puts them in his pocket, and takes them out again; not quite sure where to put them. He is fidgety, not sure what to make of the situation. “I’m not really a politician, so I’ll still talk to reporters,” he jokes. Park is a fourth-year computer science student, but he’s also risen the ranks to become president of the Computer Science Course Union.
He organizes events and represents students to faculty, but it’s also a good way to make friends. He’s growing facial hair in support of prostate cancer awareness with some of his friends this month. “I’m hoping to have a nice pair of handlebars,” he says.
Handlebars would help his role-playing, when he plays a old, grouchy cleric in Dungeons and Dragons.
He goes to weekly game night for the Association of Ryerson Role-Players and Gamers (ARRG). Every Thursday the group meets in Oakham House. It’s Park’s second month, but he’s been a gamer for much longer.
The ARRG members told him to become the cleric role while he played. Cleric Park may be grouchy, but wise and caring too. “Going into rrroll makes it moooore fun,” he explains as he demonstrates the “Sean Connery” British-style voice he uses.
Playing board games is a way for Park to relax from the hectic life he leads. Travelling from North Toronto makes long days, so its a good stress reliever.
Tonight the gamers are playing Munchkin, a fantasy card game that involves battling monsters to rise to level 10. Park sits with his head down, his black bangs bouncing off the front of his glasses. “I feel like I’m doing something wrong here,” he tells the group, “I’m sorry guys, I haven’t played this game in like three years.” Every few turns the game stops so Park can explain the rules to the four other confused players.
Soon they’re interrupted by a group of Live Action Role Players (LARPers). Everyone heads over to the quad and they hand out “weapons” — mostly golf clubs or sticks with foam over them.
They’re split into two teams and a battle begins. Park strikes down opponents with his sword. “I’ve never LARPed before,” he says, “It’s awesome, but it’s exercise and I get tired very easily.”
Player and ref
By Alvina Siddiqui
There’s a lot going on around Haley Wolfenden — people cheer, numbered lights flash red and flicker new scores, the smell of hot dogs and mustard wafts through the air — but the setter for the Ryerson Rams women’s volleyball team only has one thing on her mind — the yellow and purple volleyball headed straight towards her.
She jumps and spikes the ball, making the sound of two hands colliding in a single clap, while her loose braid swings left.
Wolfenden has played the game for over 11 years, starting in Grade 6 in her hometown of Ottawa. “I can’t even imagine my life without it, without volleyball,” Wolfenden says with determination in her eyes but a sense of realization in her voice. She’s in her fourth and final year. Now, with experience in hand, she is continuously guiding her team, tugging at her shirt, pulling it outwards to hide the plays she is revealing to her teammates through simple signs that to onlookers seem like nothing more than two fingers in the air symbolizing peace.
Giving these signs wasn’t something Wolfenden was used to. “I had never been a setter before and now my team looks to me for plays,” she said. It was up and down, but she’s learned to love it and “lead by example.” Over the past three years, Wolfenden has scored the highest number of assists — 930. Before reaching Ryerson in 2005 she was named MVP of the National Capitals, a competitive Ottawa-based volleyball club.
Stretching her horizons, Wolfenden referees volleyball intramurals every Monday night. What started out as an extra gig for money, turned out to be much more. “It is the best way to spend my Monday nights. I don’t even see it as a job.”
Her focus and fire is
replaced with a laid-back demeanor when she’s refereeing. Her eyes still follow the ball, but she’s at ease. She has a navy whistle in her mouth and her hands busily scribble down tallies.
She continuously laughs and jokes with the players, as if they were friends, barely making any calls and the players never arguing back. They just simply exchange quick and witty words.
Volleyball as a passion and a hobby runs in her family. Her older sister, 24 and her younger sister, 18, both currently play for varsity teams in their universities.
Prof and Rocker
By Sean Wetselaar
It’s a quiet Friday morning in Kerr Hall South, and room 239 gradually fills with students awaiting their morning lecture in Music and Film. They talk quietly amongst themselves and eye the clock as it ticks closer to 10:10 a.m.
With seconds to spare, a man in a white tee and jeans, shouldering a backpack ducks into the room. For a newcomer, it takes a moment to realize that this man is not a student, but the professor in charge of the lecture.
Paul Swoger-Ruston isn’t what many students would probably consider an average professor. On campus, Swoger-Ruston is the Academic Coordinator for the Chang School’s Certificate in Music: Global and Cultural Contexts.
But in his own time, he’s also a guitarist in two active bands, a composer, and all-around musician.
Since seventh grade, Swoger-Ruston has played guitar. He didn’t let the initial novelty wear off and has played ever since. The decision to join a band came more recently.
He plays with two bands, Frankie Foo and Combo Royale. The first is a group of players ages 20-65 who get together to play regular shows, but rarely rehearse. “It’s more great players having fun,” Swoger-
Ruston says. Frankie Foo plays ska music, a combination of rock and jazz which developed from reggae.
Combo Royale, an early acoustics band, rehearses every other week and usually plays three to four shows a month, making it more of a time commitment for Swoger-Ruston.
For him one of the hardest things can be finding balance. “You have to
really carve out your time,” he says. “Composing in particular has been hard to get back to.”
Between teaching, music and a family with two young children, finding time for all his interests can be difficult, Swoger-Ruston says. “I’m sort of in my ideal scenario. I get bored doing one thing. I always have a couple hats on. I like the variety.”
After the lecture, Swoger-Ruston leaves the room, his backpack on and shuffles his runners down the hallway. He blends in with the students, but instead of
returning to an apartment, or residence, Swoger-Ruston heads back to his office. After all, making a career out of music isn’t easy. He has a lot of work to do before he can play.