SWOSSAA

Small but successful wrestling team at General Amherst concludes season

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

It was a smaller than usual wrestling team at General Amherst High School but the team did boast some success in the 2016-17 school year.

The team recently completed its year and had three medalists at WECSSAA, one medalist at SWOSSAA with that SWOSSAA medalist also representing the school at OFSAA in early March.

Coach Rodney Levesque praised the work of the team and noted they had fewer members this year than they have had in previous years.

“We had a small team,” said Levesque.

Levesque said they had “eight dedicated kids” this year, down from the 10-15 the team usually has. There were six boys and two girls on this year’s team and, by comparison, Tecumseh Vista Academy had 40 girls on their team.

“The hardest thing about the team is getting people to come out for it,” said Levesque.

Nathan Charron, Katie McEvoy and Jacob Stanek were three of General Amherst’s medalists at the WECSSAA wrestling meet.

Nathan Charron, Katie McEvoy and Jacob Stanek were three of General Amherst’s medalists at the WECSSAA wrestling meet. (Submitted photo)

With the boom over the last decade of mixed martial arts (MMA), Levesque hoped it would have translated into increased numbers for the General Amherst wrestling team. That said, the athletes who do come out for it are dedicated to the sport.

“It’s a long season,” he said, pointing out it lasts from early November to March.

Practices were four to five times per week, with tournaments on weekends.

“It keeps them in very good shape,” said Levesque. “It’s a very intense sport.”

Katie McEvoy, a Grade 10 student, completed her second year in wrestling and brought home a silver medal from SWOSSAA and was the school’s lone representative at OFSAA.

McEvoy made OFSAA a goal at the beginning of the year and said she was happy to have achieved it.

“It was pretty exciting,” she said, of the trip to the provincial tournament in Brampton.

McEvoy won two matches and lost two matches and was her school’s lone representative at the tournament. She added she got into wrestling because she likes the contact and the discipline the sport offers.

Jacob Stanek was one of the school’s other medalists at WECSSAA, as he won a bronze medal.

“I felt I improved from last year,” said Stanek.

Stanek said he felt stronger and more skilled this year.

“I felt pretty confident going into SWOSSAA,” said Stanek, adding his goal for next year is a gold medal at WECSSAA.

Nathan Charron said he put what he learned in all four years of high school wrestling together this year and that resulted in a third place finish at WECSSAA and fourth at SWOSSAA. It was the first year he won a medal, with Charron adding he wanted to win a medal at WECSSAA in his final year in high school.

Other members of the team include Tate Levesque, Devin Duhart, Myah Trymbulak, Bobby Bridgens and Matt Belanger.

Villanova girls hockey team captures SWOSSAA championship

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

The St. Thomas of Villanova girls hockey team is heading for OFSAA after winning the SWOSSAA “AAA/AAAA” title last Tuesday afternoon.

The Wildcats and the Chatham-Kent Hawks couldn’t settle things in the first three periods or in the first three overtime periods but Alessandra Schembri ended things with just 11.4 seconds left in the fourth overtime to give the Wildcats the 1-0 win.

Schembri said she pushed the puck past the Hawks’ defense and ended up on a breakaway. Stopped on her first attempt to score, she picked up the rebound and ended the game.

“Before I knew it, the puck was in the net,” said Schembri. “It was surreal. I didn’t know what happened. I was at a loss for words. I was trampled by my teammates.”

The St. Thomas of Villanova Wildcats  gather for a group  picture after capturing the SWOSSAA AAA/AAAA title last Tuesday.

The St. Thomas of Villanova Wildcats gather for a group picture after capturing the SWOSSAA AAA/AAAA title last Tuesday.

It was a fast-paced game, Schembri added, but the scoring chances were kept to a minimum.

“There wasn’t a lot of room out there but we worked hard and pushed through,” she said.

Captain Carli Dumeah motivated the team between every period, Schembri added, and “we all worked hard for her.” It was also an emotional game for the senior players, as they are in their final year of high school hockey.

Villanova head coach John Purdie pointed out that Chatham-Kent was undefeated coming into the game while the Wildcats lost only once during the season. Both teams allowed less than one goal per game during the season.

Purdie said their loss was to Chatham-Kent, a 3-1 defeat at a Christmas tournament. He said the Hawks “snuck up on us” as the Wildcats were not expecting them to be as strong as they were.

Since that game, the Wildcats made beating Chatham-Kent one of their missions this year.

“Our goal from Day 1 was to get to OFSAA and win OFSAA,” said Purdie. “We said it all year, this was a step towards the end goal.”

The Wildcats figure they can do well at OFSAA, which is March 21-24 in Mississauga. Purdie said they may be one of the smaller schools there, but they have a lot of elite players and have proven they can play with some of the best in Ontario.

Villanova’s Allison Langille (87) drives around Chatham-Kent’s Kirsten Horney during last week’s SWOSSAA title game at the Libro Centre.

Villanova’s Allison Langille (87) drives around Chatham-Kent’s Kirsten Horney during last week’s SWOSSAA title game at the Libro Centre.

“This is the most complete team we’ve ever had,” said Purdie. “The depth of this team is amazing.”

Both goalies – Kristen Swiatoschik and Erica Fryer – give the team a chance to win and Purdie believes they could medal with either of them.

The Wildcats expected the SWOSSAA final to be a tight hockey game and Purdie stressed to the players to not let a bad bounce beat them. He also credited the referees, who “did a great job letting them play.” There wasn’t a single penalty called in the game.

Players come from Amherstburg, Harrow and LaSalle, Purdie noted.

“I think this is the kind of hockey team that brings communities together,” he added.

Local coaching legend forced to take a step back due to health reasons

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Forced to take a step back from coaching due to health reasons, a General Amherst coaching legend still plans to be involved in any way he can.

While Dave Scott has stepped down as the head coach of the General Amherst Bulldogs junior football team, he still aims to continue his 43-year coaching career by helping the passing games of both the junior and senior football teams.

“I’ll have to see how this goes, whether I coach track or not. I don’t know,” said Scott, who didn’t want to disclose his health publicly.

Scott has spent the better part of his life at General Amherst, including his years as a student. He began there in 1959 and was a key component of the newly created football program, founded by Jack Wilson and George Pringle in 1961. Scott, the team’s quarterback, scored the football program’s first-ever touchdown.

“I was supposed to pass but I ran it in from the ten-yard line,” Scott recalled.

The team went undefeated the next two years and General Amherst won the SWOSSAA “B” championship in 1963. Scott was the quarterback the first three years of the program and was named the school’s top male athlete in 1964, the first time that award had been given.

Scott was captain of both the football and basketball teams from 1959-64. In 1961, the junior basketball team won the ECSSA title and travelled to London for the WOSSAA championship, where they lost by one point in the final. Jerry St. Pierre was the coach, Scott said.

The General Amherst football team won the SWOSSAA “B” championship in 1963. Dave Scott is in the front row, wearing uniform #36. Scott was the quarterback and went on to have a lengthy coaching career which he still aims to continue at General Amherst. (Special to the RTT)

The General Amherst football team won the SWOSSAA “B” championship in 1963. Dave Scott is in the front row, wearing uniform #36. Scott was the quarterback and went on to have a lengthy coaching career which he still aims to continue at General Amherst. (Special to the RTT)

Scott graduated from Grade 13 in 1964, after which he enrolled at the University of Western Ontario. After obtaining an honours in physical education, he returned to General Amherst in 1968 and started his teaching and coaching career. In his first year, he coached football, basketball and started the track and field team. He became health and physical education department head in 1971.

Scott coached the senior football team to ECSSAA championships in 1972 and 1974 and began junior football in 1980. From 1980-85, Amherst won five straight junior football ECSSA championships. In 1993, the senior team had a perfect 8-0 record with the junior team winning that year as well. The juniors also won in 1999.

After retiring from teaching in 2000, Scott returned to the sidelines in 2004 and resumed coaching track and field as well. His track and field coaching credentials are impressive as well, as he led the team to 19 straight ECSSAA championships from 1971-94 with the team also winning SWOSSAA the first 16 years of that streak as well. The team has also achieved significant success at the provincial level, winning 14 gold medals at OFSAA.

“We won a medal in all of the events,” he said.

Not only did he help lead General Amherst to success on the track, he helped build the local track and football complex. In 1984, Scott formed a committee with Dave Bailey and Mike Nedin to study the feasibility of building a track and field/football complex. They worked with the town in creating Centennial Park, and received help from then-mayor Bill Gibb and administrator Tom Kilgallin in obtaining the government funding required.

“We raised $10,000 at the school,” said Scott, adding a million-dollar grant helped fund the remainder.

“It was the nicest one in Ontario,” he said of the park. “We had seating for 1,000. We filled it on game days. We also held ECSSAA for five straight years until Essex was built.”

OFSAA Regionals and SWOSSAA meets were also held in Amherstburg.

“It was a tremendous facility at the time,” he said. “It’s been let go and a lot of people are upset about that. This would only cost $1 million and it would be done.”

Recalling the staff that helped run the meets, he said those helped expose students to track and field locally and assisted him in building the teams he had.

The 1975 Amherst senior boys championship basketball team. Front row (from left): Dave Spencer, Paul Smeltzer, Dom Silvaggio, manager Dane Clark, manager Loretta Budiak, Marino Donatucci, Frank Ventura. Back row (from left): Vince Sauro, Dan Derenoski, Tony D’Alimonte, coach Dave Scott, Bob Parr, Doug Jones, Dave Parks.

The 1975 Amherst senior boys championship basketball team. Front row (from left): Dave Spencer, Paul Smeltzer, Dom Silvaggio, manager Dane Clark, manager Loretta Budiak, Marino Donatucci, Frank Ventura. Back row (from left): Vince Sauro, Dan Derenoski, Tony D’Alimonte, coach Dave Scott, Bob Parr, Doug Jones, Dave Parks. (Special to the RTT)

Scott is hopeful that a combined General Amherst and Western high school will be built on the property, even suggesting the former AMA Arena be used as a horticultural facility for the Western students.

“I hope that school is built there or someone takes charge and does that track or stadium,” said Scott.

On the basketball court, he coached at the senior level from 1968 until his retirement in 2000 and continued to coach juniors after his retirement. The senior boys ended a 28-year dry spell in 1975 by winning the ECSSA championship, a feat they also accomplished in 1978. Teams led by Scott also won WECSSAA “AA” and SWOSSAA “AA” titles in the late 1990’s. Scott also has an Ontario District High School championship in 1998.

Scott has also won a variety of awards during his career. He was a recipient of the Ontario Bicentennial Volunteer Award, given by then-Premier Bill Davis. He was awarded a Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Medal in 2013, won a Watson Hallock award for contributions to General Amherst, has been recognized by the town of Amherstburg, was awarded a WECSSAA plaque in 2000 for three decades of dedication to youth in track and field and won the Honourary Bulldog Award from General Amherst in 2009. Scott also won the Labatts Award from the Kinsmen Club of Windsor as their “Sports Person of the Year” June 6, 1983.

Scott also recalled the events he helped plan, from parades and hay rides to homecoming events and dances. He said the town would shut down in the early 1970’s for some of the homecoming parades that were held.

Numerous former athletes he coached have also gone into coaching themselves over the years, he said. A number of people have assisted him over the years in basketball, football and track and field. Those he listed include Dom Silvaggio, Jerry St. Pierre, George Pringle, Dave Heath, Jack Wilson, Jim Mathieson, Mark Usher, Jim Bradburn, Doug Middleton, Kieth Ewer, Rob Oriet, Dino Rosati, Dave Bailey, Mike Nedin, Cindy Nedin, Ross Scott, Lynn Yovonvich, Stephanie Bondy, Kristy Ryan and Scott Riddell.

Scott thanked everyone who has played a role in his career, adding he always enjoyed seeing the students improve their skills and go on to have productive lives of their own.

“It was a great career. It’s not finished yet, I’m still coaching,” he said. “It’s always been a great experience. I’ve never had a bad experience.”

At Monday night’s town council meeting, the town voted to support a bid to have Scott inducted into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame. Dave Heath, a former colleague of Scott, is spearheading the campaign and said Scott “dedicated his life to youth and sports in this town.” He added he wants to show the selection committee the bid is not just the opinion of fellow coaches.

Heath said coaches take time away from their families to pursue working with athletes. Scott has worked with at least 40 athletes who became teachers, Heath added.

Councillor Jason Lavigne said he can attest to everything Heath said, calling the Hall of Fame bid “commendable.” Councillor Rick Fryer said Scott “pushed you to the limit to make you better. That’s why he is who he is.”

Deputy Mayor Bart DiPasquale suggested a letter writing campaign, but Heath believed less would be more and that too many letters could be counterproductive. Mayor Aldo DiCarlo joked that despite the amount of laps both Scott and Heath made him run during his days at General Amherst, “I still support this.”

General Amherst strikes gold at SWOSSAA

 

Special to the RTT

 

The General Amherst track and field team attended the SWOSSAA championships in Chatham and Windsor May 17-18.

SWOSSAA competition consists of eight competitors from WECSSAA and eight from Kent and Lambton counties. The top five in each event qualified for the OFSAA West Regional in Hespeler.

 

GOLD MEDALS

Jaiden Mulder – senior girls 100m hurdles

Abbey Gibb – midget girls long jump

 

SILVER MEDALS

Lance Tofflemire – Open boys 2000m steeplechase

Keely Gibb – Senior girls triple jump

Abbey Gibb – Midget girls triple jump

 

BRONZE MEDALS

Taya Holmes – Midget girls 80m hurdles

Jared Capaldi – Senior boys 200m

Lance Tofflemire – Senior boys 3000m

Jaiden Mulder – Senior girls 400m hurdles

bigbulldogyellow3

 

FOURTH PLACE FINISHES

Alexie Newhook – Midget girls 300m hurdles

Mike Nasello – Junior boys 800m

Alexie Newhook – Midget girls 80m hurdles

Mike Nasello – Junior boys 1500m

Abbey Gibb, Alexie Newhook, Alyssia Herd, Taya Holmes – Midget girls 4x100m relay

 

FIFTH PLACE

Nia Holmes

 

Not qualifying but having great performances were:

Zach Riddell – 6th, senior boys discus

Mya Palumbo – 7th, midget girls 3000m

Shayne Purdie – 9th, senior boys javelin

Jessica Dennison – 9th, midget girls 80m hurdles

Tracey Stanek – midget girls 800m

James Shaw – senior boys 100m hurdles

Lee Sinasac – 9th, midget boys discus

Darby Roland – open girls 4x400m relay

General Amherst ladies doubles tennis team advances to OFSAA

 

Special to the RTT

The General Amherst ladies doubles team of Gillian Sparling and Reese Jones competed in the SWOSSAA tennis tournament and came away with a second place performance, qualifying them for OFSAA competition later this month.

The road to this berth was not smooth but the team’s resolve and determination shone through in the end.

Back in the fall, the girls came in third when competing at WECSSAA. They had one flat match which took them out of contention but they knew deep down that they had the ability and the moxie to do more. They were primed to make a strong SWOSSAA run in the fall but on the eve of the competition the tournament was postponed due to some questionable entries in other divisions. So their preparations had to be put on hold all winter until the SWOSSAA tournament could actually be played in the spring.

Gillian Sparling (left) and Reese Jones will represent General Amherst at the upcoming OFSAA tennis tournament. (Submitted photo)

Gillian Sparling (left) and Reese Jones will represent General Amherst at the upcoming OFSAA tennis tournament. (Submitted photo)

Gillian and Reese were hitting strong, deep, consistent balls and their volleying and serving skills were equally impressive. They quickly subdued their first opponents from Chatham McGregor 8-2. Their next competition came in the form of the WECSSA champions from Riverside. It was a hotly contested affair with tempers flaring occasionally as Riverside fell behind Amherst and tried to employ some head-games to neutralize the force of the General Amherst attack. Such a strategy would not hinder the momentum of Sparling and Jones as they dug in their heels, cruising to a 8-4 victory.

The next match was for the SWOSSAA championship. That was the good news. The bad news was that they were up against the two-time defending OFSAA champs from Sarnia St. Patrick. The girls were flat this match and lost much of their mojo in falling 8-1 to the champs. Gillian and Reese therefore had to play the winners of the consolation bracket for second place and the OFSSA berth. They practiced hard between their matches to regain good habits, get into the groove of unleashing their power and most of all get into a positive mindset necessary to compete at this level. Their opponents for this deciding match would be the Riverside team they disposed of earlier. The Rebels had plenty of talent though and would surely be determined to exact vengeance on our Bulldog team.

Gillian and Reese found their magic again and refused to let Riverside in the door. The antagonistic tone motivated the girls as did the chance to compete in Markham against the rest of the province. Sparling and Jones defeated the WECSSA champs even more convincingly than earlier with an 8-2 drubbing. The Bulldogs won all of the tense points leaving no doubt that they were the deserving representatives of the region. The duo make an excellent team and with their scrappy mentality and skills will be a force to be reckoned with. Congratulations and good luck girls.