General Amherst

Lady Gens gearing up for 2017 WECSSAA girls basketball season

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens will try and work their way back to the top of the local high school basketball mountain, but it is still to early to forecast this year’s team.

Players are back in the gym practicing but head coach Dom Silvaggio said it is hard to judge at this point how the senior team will stack up.

Players in the senior and junior age groups have been practicing thus far with more invited to join once the school year begins Sept. 5.

Senior and junior basketball players practice last Thursday morning in preparation for General Amherst’s upcoming WECSSAA season.

Senior and junior basketball players practice last Thursday morning in preparation for General Amherst’s upcoming WECSSAA season.

Roughly four seniors graduated from last year’s team and Silvaggio said one of the players eligible to return will not be.

Silvaggio said returning players Ramie Tytgat and Brooklyn Prescott consistently took advantage of gym time made available earlier in the year as did a few others.

“They’ve definitely improved a lot,” Silvaggio stated.

Consistent practice pays dividends, he believes.

“You have to have the passion and want to play,” he said.

That said, he still is hopeful of a good season and is working with the players at the latest round of practices.

Whether the senior team plays in Tier 1 depends on the amount of players that end up playing at that level with that number yet to be determined.

General Amherst head coach Dom Silvaggio conducts a shooting drill during a practice last Thursday.

General Amherst head coach Dom Silvaggio conducts a shooting drill during a practice last Thursday.

The junior team is also expecting a good number of new players coming up from elementary school, he added.

General Amherst’s 13-year WECSSAA winning streak ended last year and their streak of ten straight OFSAA appearances ended the year before.

“We’d like to see (the basketball program) back to where it was but it starts with the kids,” he said. “They have to want to put the time in to improve.”

Bulldogs gearing up for 2017 WECSSAA football season

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

There are encouraging signs for the General Amherst Bulldogs very early on in the 2017 WECSSAA football season.

There are also reasonable expectations as well.

The Bulldogs held their first practices last week at Centennial Park as preparation for the upcoming high school football season have started. Both senior and junior players were at the practices with coaches pleased with the amount of players that attended.

Senior and junior football players perform a tackling drill at Centennial Park last Wednesday evening.

Senior and junior football players perform a tackling drill at Centennial Park last Wednesday evening.

“Having 38 guys come out to the first practice was excellent,” said John Rudak, head coach of the senior team.

Rudak added he doesn’t remember that many players out at a first practice in his time with the school. Of those at the practices, roughly 16 or so were senior players but Rudak expects that to grow a bit.

“We’ve got about 25-26 on paper right now,” he said. “It’s been the same the last three or four years.”

A strength of the senior team looks to be the line, as four junior lineman are moving up to senior. That gives the senior Bulldogs about seven or eight linemen overall.

“You can never have too many linemen,” said Rudak.

As of now, General Amherst is thin at running back at the senior level so Rudak envisions possibly moving a wide receiver to running back or maybe a lineman.

“The one position that is wide open now is quarterback,” he added.

Will Borland and Shayne Purdie have graduated with Spencer Hawkins returning, but Rudak said Hawkins is a key member of their defense.

“It’s tough to take him off of defense,” said Rudak. “He was one of our best defenders last year.”

General Amherst senior team head coach John Rudak (right) demonstrates how players are supposed to approach a tackle during a practice last Wednesday at Centennial Park.

General Amherst senior team head coach John Rudak (right) demonstrates how players are supposed to approach a tackle during a practice last Wednesday at Centennial Park.

The league’s coaches have not met thus far, but Rudak believes the Bulldogs are a mid-level Arnott Conference team. They do not have any fifth year players and that makes it difficult to compete at a higher level, but Rudak pointed out they pride themselves on graduating players out of Grade 12 and wishes graduates the best in the future.

On the other side of the coin, there are a number of incoming players that could make the junior team a solid group next year.

“There’s a group of athletic Grade 9 players we’re just getting to meet right now,” said Rudak. “We like what we see in Grade 9 right now. I wouldn’t be surprised if they did some damage in the junior conference.”
Dino Rosati, coach of the junior Bulldogs, agreed and also was enthused about the number of athletes that turned out. He too thought there are some good incoming players into the junior football program.

“I think we’ve got a chance to be pretty good,” said Rosati, adding that about half the team has returned from last year. “I like what I see so far.”

The Bulldogs’ football program is also seeking coaches. Anyone wishing to help can attend an evening practice at Centennial Park.

Lady Gens fall short in WECSSAA girls slo-pitch playoffs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens’ bid to repeat as WECSSAA slo-pitch champions fell short last Tuesday.

The Lady Gens went into the second day of the double-elimination playoff tournament undefeated but could not win another game. In fact, they lost both games they played in heartbreaking fashion.

General Amherst’s Reese Jones (right) tags an Essex base runner during WECSSAA girls slo-pitch playoff action last Tuesday at Co-An Park in McGregor. Essex ended up winning the game 14-13.

General Amherst’s Reese Jones (right) tags an Essex base runner during WECSSAA girls slo-pitch playoff action last Tuesday at Co-An Park in McGregor. Essex ended up winning the game 14-13.

The first game was a 13-6 loss to the eventual champion Leamington Lions. General Amherst had a 6-3 lead at one point but Leamington had a nine-run inning that gave them the lead and propelled them to victory.

The second game was an even more difficult finish for the Lady Gens. Amherst built up an 11-0 lead heading into the sixth inning before allowing four runs to the Essex Red Raiders. Amherst would score twice in their next at bat to make it a 13-4 game but Essex came back with ten runs in the seventh inning to give them a 14-13 win.

The Red Raiders used timely hitting and also took advantage of some key Amherst errors to complete the comeback.

Despite the losses, General Amherst’s Payton Laing believes the Lady Gens still played well.

“We played really hard. In the last two tournament, I think we played our best ball. Our bats got going,” she said.

There was clearly a sense of disappointment after losing both games Tuesday.

“We fell short in both games. We needed to finish,” said Laing. “This is the best we played but we kept coming up short.”

General Amherst’s Danielle Brindley  delivers a pitch to the plate  during last Tuesday’s  WECSSAA slo-pitch playoff tournament at Co-An Park in McGregor.

General Amherst’s Danielle Brindley
delivers a pitch to the plate
during last Tuesday’s
WECSSAA slo-pitch playoff tournament at Co-An Park in McGregor.

The Lady Gens had a lot of new players this season, including four Grade 9 players and one new Grade 11 student, but Laing believes they came together well as a team.

“Overall, I think we had a pretty good season.”

General Amherst loses three players – Jackie Wismer, Megan Wismer and Tayah Storm – with the rest eligible to return. Laing said they will miss those three players.

“Those are some big bats and they play some key positions,” she said.

The Lady Gens will use the disappointment of how the 2017 season ended as inspiration for next year, Laing added.

“We’re not going to want to feel like this (next year) for sure,” she said. “We’re coming out swinging for sure next season.”

Local high school students invent, make their own pizzas

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Students from General Amherst High School’s food and culture class got some practical experience.

The Grade 11 students got a chance to demonstrate what they have been learning during a trip to Naples Pizza. Teacher Eric Campbell said they have been designing pizzas with “a cultural theme” including with American, Italian, Mexican and seafood themes among others.

“We’re trying to experiment with new flavours,” explained Campbell. “(Naples Amherstburg owner) Fil (Braga) has been great. He’s a really good community partner.”

Students from General Amherst High School’s food and culture class (above) walked over to Naples Pizza where they got a chance to try their hands at making new kinds of pizzas.

Students from General Amherst High School’s food and culture class (above) walked over to Naples Pizza where they got a chance to try their hands at making new kinds of pizzas.

Naples also hires several General Amherst students, he added.

Campbell said he started the partnership last semester and continued it during the current semester, though said he hopes to do it every semester from now on.

“(The students) end up with a broader understanding of food from around the world and where food comes from,” he stated. “It’s a good life skill.”

Campbell also said that students are not only learning about flavours and cultures, but they are getting first-hand restaurant experience as well.

“Most of them don’t have restaurant experience,” said Campbell. “They are getting to see how a restaurant runs.”

Campbell added that it was nice to see how creative the students were getting during the trip to Naples. He hopes to stoke that creativity through even more community partnerships.

“I’m hoping to find more community partners,” he said.

Holleigh Lawrence gets her opportunity to make a pizza as she spreads sauce on the dough.

Holleigh Lawrence gets her opportunity to make a pizza as she spreads sauce on the dough.

Jordan Pillon, one of the students in the class, enjoyed the trip.

“It’s fun. I liked it,” he said. “I learned how to make a pizza. It was a good experience.”

Holleigh Lawrence also had a good time during the trip to Naples.

“It was fun making pizza. My favourite food is pizza. I could eat pizza the rest of my life,” said Lawrence.

Braga said he was proud to partner with General Amherst.

“It’s good to see the kids getting interested in cooking,” said Braga.

The partnership came about through his friendship with Campbell, with Braga adding that he went to the school to judge a cooking contest at Campbell’s request and the partnership grew from there.

“It gets the kids involved and lets them be creative. It’s fun to do,” he added.

Lady Gens competing in WECSSAA slo-pitch playoffs

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The General Amherst Lady Gens are now in the WECSSAA girls slo-pitch playoffs.

The Lady Gens were scheduled to compete against the Leamington Lions yesterday, just after this issue of the River Town Times went to press. It was a semi-final game in the girls slo-pitch tournament with all games being at Co-An Park in McGregor.

The Lady Gens won both playoff games they had Monday. Their day started with a 9 a.m. game against L’Essor and it wasn’t close, as General Amherst ended up on the winning end of a 21-3 final score. Their next game was closer but still saw General Amherst come out on top. They defeated the Herman Green Griffins 15-10.

Brooklyn Prescott takes a swing at a pitch during a WECSSAA play-in game last Tuesday at Co-An Park in McGregor. Amherst downed Massey 27-3.

Brooklyn Prescott takes a swing at a pitch during a WECSSAA play-in game last Tuesday at Co-An Park in McGregor. Amherst downed Massey 27-3.

General Amherst qualified for the playoffs last Tuesday afternoon with a decisive 27-3 win over the Massey Mustangs in a play-in game that was also contested at Co-An Park. The Lady gens built up an 18-1 lead after two innings before tacking on five more in the third inning and four more in the fourth. It was called in the fifth inning due to the mercy rule.

“I thought it was a good game to start the playoffs with,” said Brooklyn Prescott, who plays first base for the Lady Gens. “We came out strong and the bats were going.”

Prescott said she thought the play-in game would be a little more difficult but believed the practices they had in the days leading up to the game paid off. She said that win gave them confidence moving forward into the WECSSAA playoffs.

(UPDATE: The Lady Gens were eliminated Tuesday in the WECSSAA semi-final. More on that in the days to come.)