A-Team Robotics take part in FIRST Robotics’ Ryerson District Event



By Ron Giofu


A-Team Robotics didn’t get the result they were looking for in Toronto the weekend of March 15-17, but are still making progress.

The robotics team, also known as Team 6544, took part in the FIRST Robotics Ryerson District Event at the Mattamy Athletic Centre, which is located inside the former Maple Leaf Gardens and operated by Ryerson University.

“There were 37 teams,” explained Allan Parks, who is one of the coaches and mentors. “We finished 16th in qualifying matches. We were quite happy with that. We made it into the quarterfinals but we didn’t get past the quarterfinals.”

Each team had to bring their newly-created robot to the event and do the tasks as directed in this year’s challenge. FIRST Robotics’ challenge this year is entitled “Power Up” and includes tasks involving a scale, a switch and climbing.

The theme is a take-off of the old 1980’s-style video games, Parks stated.

A-Team Robotics participated in the FIRST Robotics Ryerson District Event last Thursday through Saturday in Toronto. The team was eliminated in the quarterfinals. The team, which is based out of the Centreline plant on Alma St., is always welcoming new sponsors. People can visit for more information. (Submitted photo)

The scale challenge involved having the robot keeping enough weight on the team’s side of the scale than that of the opposing team. The scale varies from being four to seven-feet off the ground. The switch is a similar concept only it was not as high off of the ground.

The climb had to see the robot get at least 16-inches off of the ground.

“Every year in January, they release a new challenge,” said Parks, adding that each team had six weeks to build and program a new robot to complete the challenges.

“The kids got to be in downtown Toronto and even that was a great experience,” Parks said of the most recent competition.

A-Team Robotics has 18 members this year, which is double of what the team had last year in its inaugural season. Parks said they are mainly Grade 9 and 10 students with a Grade 12 student as well. The students are all from General Amherst High School, and though no formal affiliation exists currently, the school is helping out in certain areas and a relationship is growing.

Despite being in their second season, A-Team Robotics is performing well.

“When we rated ourselves against the other robots, we still look like a more seasoned team,” he said. “Our kids are learning and gaining a lot of value through this.”

The next competition for A-Team Robotics will be Easter Weekend in Windsor.

If any person or company wishes to sponsor the A-Team Robotics group, they can visit for more information.


Amherstburg Soccer Club aligns with Vardar Windsor soccer program



By Ron Giofu


Soccer players in Amherstburg have improved their chances of development as players and people thanks to a new partnership.

The Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC), which operates the Amherstburg Fusion travel programs as well as the house league soccer program at Larry Bauer Park and the Libro Centre, have affiliated with Vardar Windsor Premier Soccer Club as of 2018. ASC president Terry Sawchuk was thrilled with the new partnership.

“(Vardar) chose (Amherstburg) as their home base even before this partnership,” Sawchuk explained. “For us, this is huge. We’ve never had these kinds of resources before.”

The announcement was made last Saturday with Vardar Windsor president Lorenzo DiSalvo, technical director Rob Arce and coach Max Samsa.

Sawchuk said the Amherstburg Soccer Club is growing and as of last Saturday morning, had 482 players signed up. The partnership with Vardar has produced two new programs, the first of which is a U4 program that will be played Saturday mornings.

“Rob just felt it was important to work with the kids at a young age, just to make soccer fun,” said Sawchuk.

Sawchuk said he is “extremely excited” by the launch of the all-girls program. He noted that as enrolment in minor soccer expands, statistics show that 45 per cent of new players are girls.

“It’s the first time we’ve ever run it in Amherstburg,” said Sawchuk. “We felt it was a time to offer a program to help develop the girls.”

The Amherstburg Soccer Club (ASC) has affiliated with the Vardar Windsor Premier Soccer Club. From left: Vardar Windsor president Lorenzo DiSalvo, Vardar coach Max Samsa, Vardar and ASC technical director Rob Arce and Amherstburg Soccer Club president Terry Sawchuk.

Arce – whose licenses include one from Argentina and others from Futsal-AMF and the U.S. national soccer program – will also become technical director with the Amherstburg Soccer Club and work with coaches as well as players at both the house league and travel levels.

“If we develop the coaches, we’ll develop the players,” said Sawchuk.

The project will start as a five-year initiative and Arce said the Vardar program offers nutritionists, psychologists, training and other features that local players could have access to. He added they want to create a “Fusion DNA” in which Amherstburg players will be known for. The plan is to develop “flex players” that will be “in your face, high pressure, technically sound players when we have the ball,” with Arce saying the goal when they don’t have the ball being to recover it as quickly as possible.

Samsa said they are not reinventing the wheel with the flex-style model “but we are inflating the tire” and developing local players. He said that soccer is a much different sport with a different style than hockey or football, so a player should be prepared to devote many hours to developing the soccer skillset if they wish to improve.

“We want them to buy into a philosophy,” said Arce.

Vardar Windsor also collaborates with Betty Bavagnoli, an Italian coach and former women’s national team member.

Vardar has clubs across the world, including Windsor, and is highly regarded. Over the five years it has been in Windsor, five players from the region have achieved athletic scholarships. DiSalvo said they can’t promise players anything but said they will help develop them and not just on the field, either.

“We’re trying to develop people,” said DiSalvo. “We’re trying to develop the person, not just the player.”

Sawchuk said whereas Amherstburg used to lose players to other areas, they now can keep players in Amherstburg due to the development of the Fusion program. He believes more will come in with the Vardar affiliation, which now allows players to develop further in Amherstburg.

Stars, Rebellion trade wins in the opening weekend of the OMHA Finals


Special to the RTT


The last team left in minor hockey pressing for an OMHA Championship was in action again this weekend as the Amherstburg Juvenile Stars faced off against the King Rebellion in Games 1 and 2 of the OMHA Finals.

Game 1 went Saturday afternoon and saw an injury-riddled Stars team come out and weather the storm for the first 30 minutes of the game but it was the Rebellion who opened the scoring at the 6:25 minute mark of the second period.  The Stars got on the board and tied the game at the 2:08 mark of the second period on the strength of an Ernie Godden Jr. goal but the tie was short lived and the Stars could not hold off a surging Rebellion offense who jumped back in to the lead just a short 27 seconds later.

The Stars would gain some confidence heading into the last frame as Brandon Fahringer tied the game at two late in the second period.  That, however, was the most the Stars offense would be able to muster on this day.

Giving up two goals in the third period, the Stars dropped the opener 4-2. Stars goaltender Jack Langlois had a great performance in net but coach Dennis Emerson thought the team left a little to be desired.

“I thought we came out fast and matched King’s intensity but we just couldn’t get that full game effort,” said Emerson. “I don’t think we did a great job of making things easier on Jack in net.”

When asked if the Stars third period lapse is concerning, Emerson rejected the notion.

“These players know exactly what it takes to win a Red Hat (OMHA Championship), we have several players who already have one; I know they’ll come out flying tomorrow and I’m certain you will see a different result.”

Some St. Patrick’s day “luck of the Irish” must have fallen on the side of the Stars as it seemed coach Emerson’s proclamation after game one was coming true in Game 2.

After coming out of the penalty box Stars’ forward Joe Goulawski opened the scoring for Amherstburg at the 5:24 mark of the first period, leaving no doubt on his breakaway.  Goulawski would keep the Stars offense going early in the second period pushing the Stars to a 2-0 lead at the 10:45 mark.

With a resilient effort and top notch special teams, the Stars’ Mike Lenson added the back-breaking goal with only 2:32 left in the third period to shut out the Rebellion 3-0 in Game 2 of the OMHA Finals. Chris Mitre picked up the win in net and was a key contributor to the overall team success.

“Chris was great in net,” said a smiling Coach Emerson. “Our special teams, our goaltending, it was all great. The boys really showed a lot of character in today’s game.”

In a game that saw the Stars penalized almost three times as much as the home team, the special teams really were the difference maker.

“We were up 2-0 early in the third on the PK and we had guys diving in front of shots and working extra hard on the back check. We knew on the bench that if we could press to make it 3-0 and not give them any hope, we could pull this off,” said Stars forward Garret Blunt. “I really like the momentum we built up this weekend heading into next weekend at home.”

The Stars are back in action this weekend at the Libro Centre hosting the same Rebellion team on Saturday at 6 p.m. and Sunday at 1:30 p.m. There is no charge to get into the games. Come support your local Juvenile Stars on their quest for the Red Hat.


Amherstburg Stars juvenile team advance to OMHA finals


By Ron Giofu


The Amherstburg Stars juvenile hockey team is one step closer to a provincial title.

The Stars advanced to the OMHA finals thanks to a 2-1 victory over the Woolwich Wildcats Friday night at the Libro Centre. The win meant the Stars captured the OMHA semi-final series six points to none as Amherstburg won twice in Woolwich the previous weekend.

The Amherstburg Stars juvenile team celebrates after their 2-1 over the Woolwich Wildcats March 9 at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg wo the series six points to none and advanced to the OMHA finals.

After Mathieu Fife opened the scoring for Woolwich early in the first period, the Stars rallied to tie the game on a goal by Garret Blunt later in the period. The teams played a scoreless second period before Jack Hubbell’s powerplay goal midway through the third period put the Stars ahead to stay.

“We feel great about it,” said Stars head coach Dennis Emerson. “We’re excited.”

Emerson said the Stars have been playing well for a few months now.

“We’ve been on a roll since Christmas,” he said. “The kids are all buying in to what we’re trying to do. We’re playing as a team.”

Blunt said the team is happy to make the finals and have no preference as to who they play.

“We’ll take on anyone,” he said.

Amherstburg’s Jake Topliffe (5) tries a wraparound on Woolwich goalie Connor Duench during the third period of last Friday night’s OMHA semi-final game at the Libro Centre. Amherstburg won 2-1.

The juvenile Stars is still a relatively young program in Amherstburg and Blunt said they are putting it on the map quickly. Blunt noted juvenile-aged players no longer have to travel to Harrow to continue their hockey careers.

“It feels really good,” he said, about advancing to the OMHA finals. “It shows the juvenile team means business in Amherstburg.”

Blunt said they wanted to “exploit” the Woolwich goalie and get shots low, look for rebounds “and that’s what we did.”

“It’s good to be playing here,” he added. “It wasn’t like that a couple of years ago. It’s good to have a team.”

Three local boxers bring home gold medals from Ontario Winter Games



By Ron Giofu


A trio of fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club won gold medals at the recent Ontario Winter Games.

Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Tiago Balteiro participated in the March 1-4 competition and all took the top spot in their weight categories. Quinn won in the 69 kg category.

“I feel great about it,” he said. “I won the Ontario Winter Games. I was confident the whole way. I trained hard for this competition and it paid off.”

Quinn said it is the second biggest win of his career next to the provincial title he won. He does not know when his next fight is.

French also has this accomplishment near the top of his list, as he won gold in the 38 kg division.

“My fight only lasted one round,” he said, adding it was a 53-second TKO.

French started the fight fast and caused a standing eight-count to be administered to his opponent before finishing the fight off.

“’Just keep throwing’ is what I was telling myself,” said French.

Three fighters from Amherstburg’s Fighting Island Boxing Club won gold at the recent Ontario Winter Games. They include (from left): Spencer Quinn, Brandon French and Tiego Balteiro.

French trains daily at the Amherstburg gym and is not sure when his next fight is either, but thinks it could be in the next few weeks in London.

Balteiro fought in the 80 kg class and said it was against a tough opponent.

“It was a hard fight,” he said. “I fought well.”

Balteiro said he gave his opponent a standing eight-count in the third round.

“I thought it was one of my best fights,” he said, calling it his biggest win. “I fought older fighters.”

Noting he was relaxed in the ring, Balteiro added “it felt like another day at the office.”

Balteiro said his next fight will be in London March 24.

Fighting Island Boxing Club owner/coach Joe LeBlanc said the Ontario Winter Games was based in Orillia but the boxing matches were held in Midland. There were 3,500 athletes in all with participants marching in under banners for their respective sports.

LeBlanc was pleased with how things went for his fighters.

“I was very happy, very pleased,” he said. “The kids worked hard. It proves when you work hard, things happen. It was a great experience for the kids. It was like a mini-Olympics.”