Every morning I see the bright crest of red pop from the new turf at North Toronto CI as I walk by.
It makes me smile.
Finally there’s something the student body can get happy about, and it’s observed when talking with the school’s president of the Boys Athletic Association, Jack Hall.
He is a second generation Norseman. Both his parents are alum, and in his final year he gets the chance to practise on home field instead of journeying 10 minutes down the road to Eglinton Park.
It’s not just the practices, the games that have him happy. It’s the chance to just chuck the ball around with his friends.
“At lunch time I can go outside and throw the football around,” he said. “It will just relax me and get my head off marks. I didn’t really have that luxury when there was no field.”
In a city so pocked with fields fit for a meerkat kingdom, or gymnasiums so dimly lit the Vampire Basketball League could hold their games inside, it’s good to see a little more rejuvenation in the school’s athletic facilities.
North Toronto head of phys. ed. Lorne Smith echoes that sentiment.
“There is a sense of relief that the project is done and it’s now ours,” he said. “There’s nothing left to do but enjoy it.”
Both Smith and I were playing phone tag, so in an effort to let me know his élan he left a message. North Toronto CI is in the throes of exams and report cards, so understandably the venerable sports guru is tied up grading his students.
But he admits, in his message that getting used to the extra space, both in new gym and field, has him disoriented.
“At times I’m not used to the big field,” he said. “I’m used to such a small facility, I have to get used to teaching in a real good, educational environment. But it’s a nice dilemma to have.”
For years the student body has had to borrow the services of Northern, the neighbouring and rival school, to hold the Norsemen’s annual Red and Grey spirit event.
Hall and his friends can now enjoy school pride on school property.
It also resurrects another rivalry with Lawrence Park CI.
Hall has high hopes the Parn-Reynolds Cup, a single football match in honour of two former coaches, will commence after a two-year hiatus.
“I think it will renew the rivalry and have that tradition again,” he said.
Add lights to the equation and it might just become another Friday Night Lights that fellow South Region schools Leaside and East York hold in the fall.
Seeing kids excited about sports, in particular an artificial turf with the yard lines marked at intervals of 10, bright red end zones and canary yellow goal posts, is a good thing.
“I can only use superlatives,” Smith admits. “It’s been a very long process and though we never got our pool, the facilities that we have we’re very appreciative. It means a great deal to us.”
It could also mean a big boost to the gridiron, soccer, field hockey and possibly lacrosse teams in the future.
“Our numbers on the football field have been struggling a bit but this year I’ve had many kids who weren’t on the football team say to me, ‘I wish I was on the football team’ when they saw us out on the football field practising,” Hall said. “The new field makes our school look a lot better, and it makes the students a lot happier, and more excited to play sports for the school.”
With Northern re-doing their own field, and Leaside fixing up their cratered grassland, it’s a sign that sports hold as much precedence as academia.
I couldn’t be happier.