Wednesday, December 9, 2009

Handing out the hardware

With the end of the semester upon us, it’s time to look back at the half-season-that-was and recognize some of the highlights from Gryphons athletics that have graced these pages. Without further ado, Speak into the Mike hands out the ‘Golden Mikes’ to the following players, coaches and teams, for their Fall 2009 accomplishments.

Male Athlete of the Half Year – Matt Brunsting: What more than has already been written can be said about the accomplishments of Guelph’s premier distance runner? Brunsting’s season started and finished strong, winning both the Guelph season-opening meet in September, as well as the CIS Championships in Kingston at season’s end, the second consecutive season in which he has taken the national title. With another first team All-Canadian nomination under his belt, Brunsting has established himself as one of the top university runners in Canadian history and takes the inaugural Golden Mike in a landslide. Honourable mentions: Allan Brett (cross-country), Mark Henry (rowing), Nick Fitzgibbon (football).

Female Athlete of the Half Year – Brittany Benn: The second-year centre from the women’s rugby team was quite simply, the most dynamic offensive player in the CIS. Benn led the country in scoring by a wide margin, scoring 13 tries and adding 12 converts, making her a dual threat in both the running and kicking games. Incredibly overlooked by the OUA as the league MVP, Benn’s accomplishments did not go unnoticed by the Ontarion and she is the deserving recipient of the Golden Mike. Honourable mentions: Brienne Stairs (field hockey), Chantique Payne (swimming).

Male Rookie of the Half Year – Robbie Murphy: The first-year striker from the men’s soccer team burst onto the scene in his inaugural season as one of the league’s most dangerous offensive players. With five goals in 12 games, Murphy led the Gryphons in scoring and was also named both OUA and CIS Rookie of the Year. Honourable mentions: Christian Wong (golf), Cam Thorn (football).

Female Rookie of the Half Year – Tegan Stairs: Another OUA Rookie of the Year award recipient, Stairs helped lead the Gryphons to the nation’s top seed going into the national championships. Combined with her older sister, Brienne, the Stairs sisters were arguably the league’s most formidable offensive duo this season. Honourable mentions: Genevieve Lalonde (cross-country), Samantha Bright (soccer).

Coach of the Half Year – Dave Scott-Thomas: Five consecutive women’s CIS cross-country titles and four consecutive men’s CIS titles. ‘Nuff said. Honourable mentions: Colette McAuley (rugby), Michelle Turley (field hockey).

Game of the Half Year – Ravens – 75, Gryphons – 74 (men’s hoops): In their season-opening game, the undermanned and overlooked Gryphons took the defending CIS champions right to the final buzzer. The atmosphere was electric and foreshadowed a series of exciting basketball games, proving that despite losing their two top players from last year, the new-look Gryphons can be a force. Honourable mention: Western/Guelph Homecoming (football), Guelph/McMaster OUA Quarter-finals (men’s soccer).

Tough Break of the Half Year – Cam Thorn (football): The defensive tackle was having an outstanding rookie season that was cut short by an ugly ankle injury in his team’s loss to McMaster in October, requiring Thorn to be taken off the field in an ambulance. Thorn was in the starting lineup from day one and, assuming a full recovery, will anchor the defensive line for years to come.

“He said what?!” Moment of the Half Year: Two words: F*** Western.

Stinker of the Half Year: Western – 60, Guelph – 0 (men’s rugby). Ugh!

Blowout of the Half Year: Guelph – 90, Laurier – 0 (women’s rugby). Somehow, the Laurier coach still won the OUA Coach of the Year award!

Quote of the Half Year: “With what you saw with the running today, if you thought we were strong, wait two months man, we’re going to roll.” – Dave Scott-Thomas, cross-country head coach following his team’s season-opening domination. Nostradamus couldn’t have said it any better.

With half a year in the books, there was certainly no shortage of incredible stories in Gryphons athletics in the past three and a half months. With the second half beginning in the new year, stay tuned for the Winter 2010 version of the Golden Mikes at the end of next semester.

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

They may not look like cheerleaders...

They congregate in an area of the bleachers directly behind the opponent’s bench, emblazoned in Gryphon red, toting paper cones, megaphones, pots and pans, and essentially anything else that can make the most amount of noise and cause the biggest ruckus.

For those who may not have seen, the Gryphon men’s basketball team has a new cheering section.

In a great show of support for their fellow Gryphon varsity athletes, members of the university’s football team, along with their friends, have made it their mission to make as much noise as they can at varsity basketball games, in an attempt to frustrate the opposition.

And so far, it seems to be working.

The supersized cheerleading unit made their first appearance a few weeks ago during the Gryphons basketball home opening weekend, strategically situating themselves behind the opposing Ottawa Gee-Gees team bench.

It’s incredible to see that despite the football season being over, the opportunity to be a fan never ceases. They’ve emptied the kitchen cupboards and taken crowd noise to the next level.

When the Gee-Gees had the ball, the section hollered. When the Gee-Gees turned it over, the group howled. And when the Gee-Gees huddled around the bench, they erupted.
The Gee-Gees, looking frazzled, were forced to move their huddle away from their bench and underneath their own basket instead. Success! The noise was too great. Smiles crept upon the faces of other fans enjoying the spectacle.

Effective? Absolutely. Unsportsmanlike? No way.

This kind of patriotism, loyalty and dedication is what varsity sports should feature on a regular basis. It’s this kind of camaraderie that helps create a sense of school spirit, sadly often unseen on this campus, aside from Homecoming football.

But not only is the newfound cheering section effective, their methods are starting to spread and pay off. You can literally see the level of frustration on the faces of opposing players and coaches as the contingent of football players increases the decibel levels. Similarly, you can also see the appreciation on the faces of the Gryphon players on the court and on the bench. The crowd excitement is an inspiration for good play, and vice-versa.

While the Gryphons may not be winning, they’re certainly playing an exciting brand of basketball, with three of their first four home games undecided until the final two minutes of play. The crowd sizes are increasing and the buzz around the gym is encouraging.

Is this growing level of support unique only to Gryphons basketball, or a sign of changing times on campus? I can only hope for the latter; perhaps, students are truly starting to embrace campus sports and establish that missing sense of Gryphon identity and pride for varsity athletics.

Even if you’re not a basketball, or even a sports fan, I can promise that the excitement that emerges from the gym is worth the price of admission. The Gryphons won’t be back in action on campus until after the new year. When it’s game time, come for the cheering, stay for the basketball. And don’t forget your frying pan.

Monday, November 16, 2009

One last heave

It had all the makings of a modern day resurrection of the famed Bobby Baun story. An athlete, hampered by injury, returns to the field of play, braving the pain and sacrificing his body for one last heroic performance.

For those that don’t know, Baun was a defenceman for the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1960s. In the 1964 Stanley Cup finals, Baun fearlessly blocked a Gordie Howe slap shot, breaking his ankle and requiring him to be taken off the ice on a stretcher.

Famously though, in what is widely considered one of the most heroic moments in sports history, Baun returned to the ice in that same game, aided only by ankle tape and painkillers. Baun scored the game-winning overtime goal that night, giving the Leafs a Game 6 victory over the Detroit Red Wings, en route to their third consecutive Stanley Cup win. It was the kind of story that lives on for generations.

Fast-forward 45 years to the Yates Cup, the Ontario University football championship game played on Saturday between the Western Mustangs and Queen’s Gaels. The game featured two of the most prolific quarterbacks in CIS history with the Mustangs’ Michael Faulds and the Gaels’ Danny Brannagan going head to head.

Late in the fourth quarter, with Western trailing 43-39, Faulds, the nation’s all-time passing leader, got his team on the move, having already thrown for over 500 yards in the game. After an incomplete pass on first down at the Gaels’ 25-yardline, Western fans gaped with fear. Faulds was down. His wonky knee had given out.

Faulds had to be helped to the sideline by his teammates, virtually unable to walk. It was hard to tell if the pain on his face was because of his knee, or because he could no longer help his team win.

With Faulds on the sideline, backup quarterback Donnie Marshall was in for four plays and struggled to take the Mustangs any further. Meanwhile, Faulds watched in agony on the sidelines, wondering if his record-setting career would really end like this.

Faulds pleaded with his head coach, Greg Marshall, begging for just one more chance to go back in. Marshall appeared reluctant to risk further injury.

Down to their last chance, needing to score on a 3rd-and-20 play with just 17 seconds left, Marshall caved and out trotted Michael Faulds. Except Michael Faulds didn’t jog out to the huddle. He limped.

Unable to put virtually any weight on his left knee, the Mustangs leader could barely stand. Watching the game on television, the stories I’d heard about Baun raced through my head and a lump formed in my throat. This was truly sports heroism at its finest.

As Faulds took the snap, he tried to go into his usual five-step drop into the pocket. The Gaels’ pass rush burst through the line and got a hold of Faulds’ leg. With a desperate heave, Faulds fearlessly threw the ball downfield, barely out of reach of wide receiver Zach Bull. The game was over. Western was defeated. Michael Faulds had replayed the football version of the Bobby Baun story, and the only thing missing was the happy ending.

As a tireless Gryphon supporter, I felt strange cheering for Michael Faulds on Saturday. I’ve cheered against him for five years when the Mustangs visited Alumni Stadium to take on the Gryphs. But for this brief moment in time, he had my support. For all things that are good in sports, I wanted him to succeed. I wanted that happy ending, but it just wasn’t meant to be.

In future years, people will look at this game and may only remember it for the fact that it was the Gaels’ first Yates Cup victory in 31 years. With all due respect to Queen’s, however, this game belonged to Michael Faulds – Mustang quarterback and a gridiron warrior.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Rookies show their stuff

On Friday night, the Gryphons men’s basketball team opened their regular season against the Carlton Ravens. A quick glance at the schedule, rosters and team histories suggested that this was going to be a blowout – one not in favour of the Gryphons. The Gryphons were without two of their top players, as both Dan McCarthy and Jon Moscatelli watched from the sidelines with injuries and the Ravens, despite losing three OUA all-stars to graduation, were fresh off their second consecutive national championship, their fifth title in the last eight years.

Safe to say, the Ravens are a perennial powerhouse, while the Gryphons were left with two returning starters in Jay Mott and Mike Petrella, a handful of backups, and a slew of no fewer than six rookies.

If other Gryphon fans weren’t shuddering at the potential for a bloodbath in this game, I sure was.

Lo and behold, the new-look and undermanned Gryphons showed me up, and showed the entire league that despite all the unfamiliar names, the new kids on the block were here to play. The Gryphons fell 75-74 to the Ravens after a last-second shot attempt fell short, but nevertheless, the performance was incredible, in what was probably the most exciting basketball game that this campus has seen in years.

Mott and Petrella did their usual thing, scoring 22 and 19 points respectively, with Petrella adding ten assists while Mott drilled five three-pointers. It was the performances of the rookies, however, that kept the Gryphons close, particularly down the stretch.

Start with the bigs.

John Brutto, one of the top-ranked centres in Canada coming into university, sports a wingspan that is no less than seven feet wide. He was inserted directly into the starting lineup and made an immediate impact at the defensive end. In 16 minutes, Brutto grabbed four rebounds and two steals, despite drawing the toughest defensive matchup of the game, trying to guard against the Ravens’ Kevin McCleary.

Brutto was joined in the frontcourt by six-foot-ten Colton Hood, who played sparsely, but showed a knack for attacking the basket and using his size effectively.

Matt Howlett was the third Gryphon forward to make an impact, scoring nine points in 19 minutes off the bench, and did a great job of bouncing back after struggling with his shots in the first half.

Now look at the guards, Adrian Achonwa and Drew Morris.

Achonwa was placed in the starting lineup for his first ever university game, and did not look out of place. His tenacity on defence and ability to drive and penetrate in the lane was definitely a welcome sign. It seems that once again, head coach Chris O’Rourke has successfully recruited an outstanding local talent; Achonwa played high school basketball at Centennial CVI, the same high school where last year’s rookie standout, McCarthy, came from.

Morris, a smallish point guard, was the rookie who really stole the show. With 12 points in 22 minutes, Morris was the rookie who received the most critical playing time down the stretch, making big shots time after time while protecting the ball, and even grabbed a pair of huge offensive rebounds, keeping drives alive despite his lack of size.

If you were to just look at the stat sheet, these performances might look ordinary and uninteresting. On Friday night though, their showings were far from the norm.

They came out and showed they belonged.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

The fallacy of individual awards

The Gryphons women’s rugby team are moving on to the national championships in British Columbia, fresh off an impressive win over the Western Mustangs in the OUA title game. These undefeated Gryphons feature Brittany Benn, the OUA’s leading scorer, Jacey Murphy, perhaps the league’s most powerful player, and Colette McAuley, their head coach who has never failed to lead the team to an OUA medal in her 13 years with the club, the first ten coming as an assistant.
And yet, none of these women’s names could be found when the OUA dealt out the individual awards for Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year at the end of the regular season.

Without taking anything away from Western’s Laura Russell and Laurier’s Jennifer Armitage, who won the Most Valuable Player and Coach of the Year awards, respectively, these women pale in comparison to Guelph’s finest.
Forgive me for being a homer, but I’ve got to agree with the sentiments that I overheard from onlookers following the individual ceremonies on Saturday. These awards are a farce.

Benn led the league with 13 tries and 12 converts, despite playing on field conditions that were never particularly favourable. Her 89 points exceeded the second-leading scorer, Andrea Wadsworth of Queen’s by an incredible 39 points. No player came anywhere near Benn in terms of dominating the attacking and kicking games this season, and yet her accomplishments were not enough to garner top honours? Did I mention that she did all this as just a second-year player? Farce.

Murphy is one of the most well-rounded players in the league. The third-year 8-man was a constant pillar of force for the Gryphons, scoring tries, breaking tackles, passing to her teammates and holding the opposition at bay. Her eight tries placed her third beyond Benn and Wadsworth for most in the OUA. Yet no accolades? Farce.

Or consider McAuley, a Gryphon rugby alum, former member of the national team and a coach who has never failed to put her team on the podium in her 13 years as a team administrator, including three OUA titles in the past four years. She has constantly replenished the Gryphon talent pool via deft recruiting and her dedication to hard work has resulted in the Gryphons playing above and beyond their competition every week. And they keep getting better. I’m sure Armitage is a capable coach, but let’s face it, the Golden Hawks (1-4) finished in last place, including a 90-0 loss to McAuley’s Gryphons. I guess that instead of recognizing individual accomplishments, the OUA opted for rewarding mediocrity this year. Farce.

In each and every game this year, the Gryphons have won as a team. If you asked them about their names being omitted from the individual awards, they’ll surely shrug it off. They play for all the right reasons: team reasons. But their accomplishments would not be what they are if it weren’t for the work of some extremely talented individuals; individuals that were not given their due respect by the OUA. The league needs to reconsider its selection strategy; it has failed its most successful individuals in the greatest way. Guelph Gryphons: OUA champions. OUA selection committee: Farce.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Curbing the (bad) enthusiasm

Justin Dunk is an emotional football player.

Whether it’s an emphatic fist pump after a crucial third-down conversion, a team-rallying call to arms in the huddle or the now-famous “F*** Western” exclamation on national television, it’s safe to say that when the game is on the line, Dunk’s emotions run high.

But what happens when these displays become too much? What happens when emotions start negatively affecting gameplay?

Following Dunk’s impromptu and uncensored Homecoming comments about the rival Mustangs, the fifth-year quarterback was suspended by the department of athletics for one game. At the time of his suspension, the Gryphons were being named among the nation’s most potent and dangerous teams.

And since Dunk’s return to the gridiron?

A three game losing streak that has left the team reeling as it approaches its quarter-final playoff matchup against those same Mustangs. Dunk’s play has fallen off considerably; he’s not getting the ball downfield and appears to be lacking the confidence and consistency in his decision-making. With potentially just one game left in his university career, this is surely not the way that the most successful quarterback in Gryphons history wants to be remembered.

But those emotional displays that have characterized Dunk’s play for the past five years, for better or for worse, keep hurting his chances.

In Saturday’s game against McMaster, with the Gryphons trailing early, Dunk got his team on the move, making a series timely throws, mixed in with some big runs by himself and running back Nick Fitzgibbon. With the Gryphons driving, Dunk converted a critical 2nd-and-long situation with an elusive 16-yard scramble. The big play, however, was marred by a 15-yard penalty for unsportsmanlike conduct that Dunk received following the end of the play for making an emphatic first-down gesture directly in front of the official. Having already been jawing with Marauder players throughout the game, head coach Kyle Walters promptly benched Dunk for the rest of the series, replacing him with backup Chris Rossetti. The Gryphon drive stalled and their momentum dissipated. Dunk’s timing couldn’t have been worse.

The benching was short-lived as Dunk returned for the Gryphons next series, helping to rally his team from behind, only to fall three points short in the end. Despite his second half success, one can’t help but wonder that if Dunk had simply handed the ball to the official following his scramble and returned to the huddle that the game outcome might have been different.

Make no mistake about it; Justin Dunk is a great football player. He’s got a cannon for a right arm, the elusiveness of a running back and the speed of a wide receiver, making him the most dangerous player on the field at all times. Few players parallel his leadership skills and athletic abilities and when his career is finished, many CIS leaderboards for career passing accomplishments will feature his name being listed among the best to ever take a snap in this league.

And yet the question remains; how will he be remembered?

Dunk and the Gryphons are on the ropes. They travel to London this weekend as heavy underdogs with most people questioning their ability to recapture that early season offensive potency.

To succeed, their leader and most talented player will have to play the game of his life and keep his emotions in check. The Gryphons are sliding and are in need of a spark.

Justin Dunk’s legacy may depend on it.

Saturday, May 23, 2009

Gryphon drafted by the Argos

Check out this week's edition of The Ontarion to read about Guelph Gryphon Brad Crawford being drafted into the CFL by the Toronto Argonauts. Brad's versatility was a huge selling point and he'll look to make the cut with the Argos similarly to former Gryphon wide receiver Mike Palmer. Brad's brother Bryan is already a running back with the Argos and even if Brad doesn't make the team, he still has the option of returning to Guelph for a fifth year. On a team that could really use some leadership in the defensive secondary, Crawford's experience would certainly be helpful but we all wish him the best of luck in his tryouts with the Argos.


Saturday, May 9, 2009

Bringing in the bigs

The Gryphons men's basketball team has landed a couple of top recruits to try and bolster their frontcourt depth.

6'8" forward John Brutto was the third ranked high school centre in all of Canada, averaging a filthy 22 points, 18 rebounds and 4 blocks per game.

Dan Latka is a 6'11" centre who will be expected to play bigtime interior defence with Duncan Milne having graduated. He was his high school's MVP for the last two seasons in Parry Sound and will likely compete with Duncan Reid and Adam Bering for minutes at the 5 position this year.

I'm really excited to see what these two players bring the floor. We've commented at length about the Gryphons lack of frontcourt size, especially given the loss of Milne, who anchored the position for the better part of 5 years.

Guelph has also recruited Adrian Achonwa, a 6'3" guard to join the team next year. Achonwa played high school ball just down the road at Centennial CVI in Guelph, the same school that produced Dan McCarthy just a year ago. It'll be interesting to hear what Dan has to say about Adrian and we'll try to get on that soon.

The recruitments of Brutto, Latka and Achonwa brings the number of men's hoops newbies to 5 as they will join Matt Howlett and Brady Heslip who were added earlier.

Still waiting on news about new recruits for the women's team but with Kris Yallin being the only graduating member, I don't expect to see many new faces there this year.


Moving On

Just wanted to give a little shout out to Barry Rooke, my friend and former Station Manager at CFRU 93.3FM, the campus radio station in Guelph. Unfortunately, Barry's contract was not renewed by the Board of Governors and he will be moving on from CFRU in the coming year.

Barry had a huge influence on my introduction to sports journalism this past year, spearheading the sports broadcasting project on campus that covered football, basketball and hockey with outstanding results. He, along with Steve Mason, Aaron Levy, myself and a host of others worked together to build a very successful and professional broadcasting experience that will hopefully only improve over time.

With Barry moving on, I, along with Aaron, will likely look to take on greater roles in continuing to bring listeners high quality sports broadcasting. We're already looking into working with the Programming Committee at the radio station to try and plan for the fall when hopefully we'll be able to bring not only home but also road games to our listeners.

As always, we NEEEEEED volunteers to make this thing work. CFRU has a very small paid staff and many programs are run almost exclusively by volunteers. If you're interested in getting involved in ANY aspect of sports broadcasting, let me know.

As for Barry, I want to wish him the best of luck in his future work. Aside from being a great producer of our sports programs, he's also an excellent DJ and a real cool guy who'll be missed around the station.


Varsity teams make the cut

I wrote an article for this week's edition of The Ontarion, the first issue put out by my boss, friend and former sports editor, the NEW Editor-in-Chief...drumroll please....Daniel Bitonti. The article was based on an interview I did with Guelph's Athletic Director Tom Kendall, earlier this week, about the stability of varsity athletics in the ongoing recession.

Kendall assured me that despite the need for budget cutbacks in athletics, ALL of Guelph's varsity teams will keep their status for next year. Check out Dan's first paper (and my article too!) at


Sunday, May 3, 2009

Yallin's last stand

Kris Yallin, Guelph's outgoing captain on the women's basketball team, and star fourth year guard will play in her final university game next Saturday on May 9 taking part in the Inaugural OUA All-Star Game at RIM Park in Waterloo.

Yallin, the team's leading scorer, rebounder and three-point shooter was an OUA West Second Team All-Star this year and will be moving on to pursue an MBA at Wilfrid Laurier University in the fall. As a team co-captain this year with Morgan Jean and Rachel Hancock, Yallin was instrumental in helping to bring along what was a VERY young team, but one that also achieved much more than what was expected of them, earning a playoff berth before falling to McMaster.

I got the chance to interview Kris earlier this year for a piece we did for The Ontarion and she was probably the most personable athlete I met over the past year working for the paper. Having been a part of the broadcasting team that covered Gryphons basketball this year, I got a chance to see many of the top OUA 'ballers and I can safely say that Yallin will not be out of place in this team.

Some of her teammates in the upcoming All-Star game will include OUA West stars Dranadia Roc, Taylor Smith, Alyssa Wulff and Gryphon killer Amanda Anderson, who lit up the Gryphs on multiple occasions with her three-point shooting this year for the Western Mustangs.

If you're a fan of OUA basketball, this game is a can't miss as it's a chance to see some of the greatest female players in the province.

Friday, April 17, 2009

Come one, come all

Had a meeting with Barry Rooke and Aaron Levy (aka Ken Cheesy) yesterday about the future of Guelph Gryphons sports action on the radio for next year. Barry, as interim station manager at 93.3FM CFRU, the campus radio station, was the brains behind this year's sports broadcasting project that Aaron and I did play-by-play and colour commentary for, along with a host of fantastic guests. Aaron, who also hosts a weekly radio show from 1-3pm on Mondays (Anarcha-Feminist Kool Aid Acid Test), did some work as a football broadcaster in the fall and I came alongside to do basketball and the women's hockey playoffs shortly after.

Both Barry and Aaron are great guys and have been, along with myself, tirelessly committed to trying to bring listeners some Gryphons sports coverage on the radio.

The success of this year's sports radio broadcasting has gotten some people talking about ways to take it further and our meeting yesterday discussed ideas about how we can take sports broadcasting to the next level. We've built partnerships with Gryphons athletics and several varsity staffs and are now looking to move into the business aspects of production to further develop the project.

Without getting into a lot of specific details, I want to start with the main thing we determined: THE NEED FOR MORE VOLUNTEER HELP!!!!

The sports broadcasting is a project put on by volunteers working in conjunction with CFRU's staff and has the potential to not only create great programming but also serve as a great educational opportunity for anyone looking to get involved in any aspect of broadcast journalism.

For the fall, we're looking to exclusively cover Gryphons football, followed by men's and women's basketball and some hockey in the spring. If you're at all interested in participating in this project, as a commentator, producer, interviewer, tech support or anything related to radio production of athletics events, take the time to become a CFRU volunteer and we'll get you hooked up! The success of the project explicitly depends on our ability to attract volunteers.

Give it a shot, you might end up like me and find it to be something worth pursuing!


Thursday, April 16, 2009

Gryphons bolster backcourt

The Gryphons men's basketball team has received notification of commitment from Burlington native, Brady Heslip, a 6-foot-2, 180lb guard, one of the top outside shooting recruits in the province.

With Nick Pankerichan graduating, the Gryphons were in need of some backcourt help and it will be interesting to see what kind of role Heslip takes on in his first year. I watched a couple of highlight videos on him (Youtube is always clutch!) and this kid looks like a very solid outside shooter. He's got a quick release and seems to have good court sense too. While most of his highlights showed Heslip spotting up from 3-point land, it also looks like he can distribute the basketball and drive to the net. Being a little on the small side, I think Heslip translates well into a good combo-guard, a la Dan McCarthy.

Rookie guards seem to step in and contribute faster than big men in the OUA, as indicated by last year's OUA All-Rookie team (of the 6 players on the team, 4 were guards and that didn't include McCarthy who was also very solid and just missed the nomination). Heslip could come in and provide some instant offence for the Gryphons off the bench.

With McCarthy, Mike Petrella, Jon Moscatelli and potentially Charles Agyemang returning next year, I don't see Heslip cracking the starting lineup in his inaugural year. Petrella showed some great signs late in the year and McCarthy has a ton of upside that should translate into results in his second year. Moscatelli will likely be counted on to be the main scoring option for the Gryphons, but needs to improve his defence.

Stay tuned for more Gryphons updates - I still think they need to address the frontcourt with Duncan Milne graduating and Adam Bering and Duncan Reid yet to show that they replace Milne's 30 minutes a game. Bering's 2008-09 season was inconsistent and derailed by a concussion and Reid played limited minutes and looked raw when he did play. Both guys have potential to contribute and their summer workouts will be critical.


Friday, April 3, 2009

Gryphons add top recruit to cross-country squad

Gryphons cross-country/track and field coach Dave Scott-Thomas just keeps convincing top athletes to run for him.

The Gryphons have announced that they have recruited Genevieve Lalonde to join the cross country and track teams for next year. Lalonde, a native of Moncton, New Brunswick is widely acknowledged to be one of the top distance runners in North America and will give the Gryphons one of the best one-two punches with CIS Female Track Events Athlete of the Year and Guelph's top newsmaker and female athlete of the year, Lindsay Carson.

Lalonde was the Central American and North American Cross Country champion for 2009 and is expected to thrive under Scott-Thomas's tutelage.

The Gryphons track and cross country teams will undoubtedly continue to dominate the national stage and truly be the brightest spot in Gryphons athletics.

Stay tuned for more information on the Lalonde recruitment, hopefully including comments from both herself and Scott-Thomas in next week's edition of The Ontarion.


Wednesday, April 1, 2009

More recruits sign on

The Gryphons football team made a big splash a little over a month ago with their version of "National Signing Day", introducing the incoming rookies who had signed a letter of intent to play for Coach Kyle Walters and his staff.

Last week, I talked to Dillon Dimitroff, a wide receiver from Burlington, whose father, uncle and grandfather are all former Gryphons (Dillon's uncle, Tom Dimitroff, is the current General Manager of the Atlanta Falcons in the NFL and the reigning Executive of the Year). Dillon said that the signing event was very impressive and he really liked how the school was making the incoming rookies feel comfortable and important - this kid has a great head on his shoulders and should contribute sooner rather than later. He'll be looking to intern with the Falcons this summer to get some professional football advice - can't hurt!

Anyways, back to the point of this post - I've just learned from the great people in athletics that Coach Walters now has a second group of recruits who are poised to become Gryphons and once again, there is a significant Niagara Region flavour in the group. Walters has now recruited 4 players from Niagara Falls to come to Guelph and 3 others from nearby Port Colborne, Fort Erie and Welland. We'll look to run a story on these guys in the fall as I'm sure they've all played with/against each other at some point.

With the two groups of recruits that have committed to Guelph, the rookie class is tentatively set at 27 new players so there's going to be lots of new talents this year. Granted, we won't likely see them all on the field during the games - some will red-shirt during their first year - but one player I'm really looking at to make a big contribution is running back Corey Davidson out of Port Colborne. He'll likely be the Gryphons' #2 back this year behind Nick Fitzgibbon and also see time returning kicks.

Also, anyone who follows Gryphons athletics knows that Port Colborne has been a great supplier of athletes to the program as it is the hometown of the basketballing Yallin sisters. Steph Yallin was a former all-star and team captain and Kris Yallin is now graduating after four years of outstanding play - she was a co-captain and OUA West Second-Team All-Star this year and one of the best three-point shooters in Gryphons history. Alex Yallin is going into her third year and has shown potential to be a big contributor in the backcourt. ALSO, when I talked to Kris earlier this year, she told me that there are TWO MORE Yallin sisters in high school with basketball talent and Gryphon aspirations. Despite being a very small town, Port Colborne continues to produce top-shelf athletes - hopefully Corey Davidson will be no different.

Stay tuned for more updates...

Tuesday, March 31, 2009

New Facilities are On the Way!!!!

By a mere 200ish votes, the students at UofG supported the athletic facilities referendum question in the recent CSA election.

The question asked for an addition $4 from students each semester - athletic fees go from $34-$38 per semester and that increase will ultimately bring about MASSIVE changes.

I talked to Tom Kendall, the Director of Athletics today and he was extremely excited about receiving the support of the students.

The student contribution will finance two substantial projects:
1.) Renovation of the W.F. Mitchell Athletic Centre. We're talking new gyms, weight rooms, indoor track, changing facilities, offices, the whole nine. This is the building that is most used by students and Kendall wanted to make sure that their financial contribution went towards a facility that exclusively benefits students. Look for building to commence within the next 18-24 months for this incredible project.

2.) Synthetic turf soccer fields. The days of poorly irrigated grass and inconsistent traction will soon be over as the new fields will feature synthetic turf, a modern surface similar to that at BMO Field in Toronto where Toronto FC play Major League Soccer. Not only will the existing fields be replaced, but new ones will also be built. This project will be the first to get underway and an optimistic Kendall said Fall 2010 would be the LATEST that these new fields would be available for use.

This is great news for the university as a whole! The Athletic quadrant of campus was recently deemed the area of greatest need. Kendall was very appreciative of student support and Guelph's top-ranked intramural program will also receive a great boost from this.

Look for more information on this development in this week's edition of The Ontarion as both myself and the current Sports Editor, Daniel Bitonti will provide comments.


Welcome Gryphon Sports Fans!

Welcome to MT @ UofG, my blog that will provide you with everything you need to know about Guelph Gryphons Athletics.

For those of you who don't know me, my name is Mike Treadgold and I've just graduated from UofG after four and a half great years. For the past year, I've been writing sports for The Ontarion newspaper and broadcasting men's and women's basketball and women's hockey on CFRU 93.3FM, the campus radio station.

Next year, I'll be continuing with the sports radio broadcasting and working as the Sports Editor of The Ontarion.

This blog will hopefully provide you with Gryphon sports information AS IT HAPPENS, so you won't have to wait until Thursday when the newspaper comes out to get your sports info.

All suggestions are welcome at anytime - if there's a story you want covered, let me know!

Look for my articles in The Ontarion every week and support your Gryphons Athletics!

My first REAL blog will discuss the recent student decision to support the renovation of the athletic facilities, an incredible development that will see major changes on campus.