By Josh Beneteau
Ghosts, goblins and princesses filled the stands of the Mattamy Athletic Centre (MAC) Friday to cheer on the Ryerson women’s hockey team as they took on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.
Of course, the ghosts were really kids dressed up for Halloween. They had come to the MAC as part of a joint-program between the two universities to promote their campuses to young people.
“We pride ourselves in being a part of the broader community and having the opportunity to bring kids and youth to our games is important for the work we want to do,” Stephanie White, Ryerson’s associate director of athletics, said.
This year marks the third year of what is now called the Downtown Showdown. U of T started the annual games as a way engage young kids in the community.
Ivan Canete, who is the coordinator of marketing and promotions with U of T athletics, said in an email that the event was so big in the first year that they expanded for both schools to host.
“We felt that a game where Ryerson was our opponent would appeal to the teachers and students since we both were in downtown Toronto,” he wrote. “Because the response exceeded our expectation, we decided to add a women’s game to the mix and split hosting responsibilities, alternating the men’s and women’s games each year.”
Canete said that the host team invites schools in the Toronto District School Board. Interested teachers or principals fill out forms online to register. This year, there were 12 schools in attendance.
One of those schools was John McRrae public school. Guy Heritage is a teacher there and said it’s fun for the kids to come see student athletes compete.
“A lot of these girls don’t see sports as an option,” he said. “Sports keeps them coming to school, and at the post-secondary level, I think it’s great.”
Ryerson won the game 4-3. As the clock counted down to end the game, loud chants of “go Rams go” echoed throughout the arena.
Ryerson head coach Lisa Haley said it was nice for her team to play in front of such a loud and excited crowd.
“To have them here and have a chance to witness our players excelling at this level of sport is fantastic,” she said. “We would love to have that many fans at every single one of our games.”
The game between the men’s teams for both schools will be played Jan. 27 at Varsity Arena.
With files from Jordan Mady