Sports

St. Clair College soccer being played this season at the Libro Centre

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

With a new sports complex being built for St. Clair College athletics, its soccer program has once again found a temporary home.

And, once again, as it did a few years ago, the Saints will be calling that new, temporary home Amherstburg.

All men’s and women’s soccer games will be played this season at the Libro Centre. The teams play doubleheaders every game day with women’s games starting first, followed by the men’s games two hours later.

The St. Clair Saints women’s and men’s soccer teams will be calling the Libro Centre home this season. (Special to the RTT)

Jay Shewfelt, athletic coordinator at St. Clair College, said a 1,500-seat soccer stadium is part of the plans for the new sports complex with construction on that to start soon.

“We planned to play off-campus all along,” said Shewfelt.

Shewfelt noted that the Saints played here several years ago when their field at the college was in rough shape while the OCAA women’s provincial championship was in Amherstburg in 2016. While they considered other facilities to hold their home games in 2018, Shewfelt said it was an easy choice to come back to the Libro Centre.

“It’s a beautiful facility. We love it,” he said.  “The staff and the town treat us great. When it came down to it, it’s an easy decision for us to make.”

The first regular season home games are Tuesday evening against Fanshawe (women 5 p.m., men 7 p.m.), with the remainder of the home schedule sees Niagara come to the Libro Centre Saturday with the women’s game at 2 p.m. and the men’s game at 4 p.m.

Redeemer comes to town Sept. 29 with the women’s game at 2 p.m. and the men’s game at 4 p.m. Lambton plays St. Clair Oct. 4 with the women starting at 5 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m.

St. Clair hosts Mohawk at the Libro Centre Oct. 12 with the women at 5 p.m. and the men at 7 p.m.

A full schedule is at www.saintsathletics.ca.

 

Dillon Hayes of Amherstburg plays on the St. Clair Saints men’s soccer team.

Dillon Hayes of Amherstburg plays on the men’s team.

Shewfelt said there is the possibility of a sixth home game for the soccer teams depending on where they finish and what the playoff schedule looks like. He added that St. Clair College has reached out to the Amherstburg Soccer Club to invite them to the games, with the general public also welcome to attend.

“All of our games are free admission,” said Shewfelt.

Local rhythmic gymnast wins five medals at Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Another local athlete has brought home medals from the Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games.

Celine LaBrecque, 21, brought home five bronze medals in rhythmic gymnastics from the competition held in Antigonish, Nova Scotia. It was the same games where Kyle Spearing competed and brought home a bronze medal in golf.

Celine won bronze in each of her routines – ball, hoop, ribbon and clubs – as well as a bronze medal overall.

“I was actually very proud because I didn’t think I was going to win anything,” said Celine. “It was a tough competition.”

Celine’s mother Cindy was one of the coaches for Team Ontario for the rhythmic gymnastics competition. She said Celine received new routines only two years ago.

Celine said she felt good coming off of the floor from all of her routines, adding that having her mother as one of the coaches made her feel better. Cindy said it was an honour to be chosen as one of the coaches.

“When I get to a competition, my mom just says to pretend it’s a practice,” said Celine.

Celine LaBrecque (left) of Amherstburg captured five bronze medals in rhythmic gymnastics at the recent Special Olympics Canada 2018 Summer Games. Her mother Cindy (right) was also a coach with the rhythmic gymnastics team.

Cindy said of the 15 rhythmic gymnasts from Ontario, they brought home 54 medals. She noted the games were at the “beautiful campus” of Saint Francis Xavier University and that the people of Antigonish showed tremendous hospitality to all Special Olympians.

“People would literally stop their cars and let us cross the street,” said Cindy, adding that others would give coaches money in grocery stores to buy treats for the athletes.

“It was a little overwhelming,” said Cindy. “I’ve never seen anything like that in the country.”

Celine said she practices twice per week, with many practices during the school year at Sandwich West Public School in LaSalle with others being at Heritage Park Alliance Church. As for her future plans, Celine said she will “go to competitions and see where I sit and go from there.”
Cindy added the next provincial qualifier is in 2019.

“She’s going to go back and see how she does and take it from there,” said Cindy.

Celine admitted she had been contemplating retirement from the sport but when she picks up the equipment, she realizes she is not ready for that yet.

“That feeling I get (upon picking up the equipment), I’m not ready to put it down yet,” said Celine.

Cindy added that both herself and father Bob are very proud of Celine’s latest accomplishments. Counting the most recent games, Celine estimates her overall medal total to be over 60.

“We were very proud to see how she pulled it together and succeeded,” said Cindy. “It was a great games.”

Cindy added that Celine has benefited greatly from Special Olympics.

“It’s been a positive influence on Celine’s life,” said Cindy. “This is the place where she grew friendships. This is the place where she grew a social life. It’s really helped her life.”

Celine, who starts the CICE program at St. Clair College this week, added she is grateful to all who have helped her along the way.

“I would like to thank all the coaches and my mom,” she said.

 

Women’s national sledge hockey selection camp comes to Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Women hoping to make the national sledge hockey team converged on Amherstburg over the Labour Day weekend to try and keep their dreams alive.

The Canadian women’s national sledge hockey team was at the Libro Centre last Friday through Sunday for their selection camp for the 2018-19 season. Janice Coulter, Women’s Sledge Hockey of Canada president, said 25 players were vying for 15 spots on the national team.

“We have players here from across the country,” said Coulter.

The national women’s sledge hockey program was at the Libro Centre over the weekend for their selection camp. Players from across Canada were in town trying to make the 2018-19 sledge hockey team. The camp included a pair of intrasquad games, including one Saturday afternoon (pictured).

Players from the Windsor-Essex County region, some of whom have played nationally before, were on hand over the weekend. They include Jessica Matassa, Dani McPhee and Ashley Goure. Assistant coach Derek Whitson hails from Chatham, added Coulter, and the Libro Centre was his “home arena” as he played for the men’s national team.

“We’ve heard great things about the venue,” said Coulter, adding the Libro Centre is “fully and completely accessible, sledge friendly and barrier-free.”

“The staff here are excellent as well and have worked with us to host a great event.”

The selection camp featured skills assessment sessions and intra-squad exhibition games Saturday afternoon and Sunday morning, It may not be the last time the women’s national program comes to Amherstburg.

“We’d really like to come back,” said Coulter, “and do as much as we can in the area.”

Coulter said the Libro Centre would be a good venue for a Canada-U.S. women’s sledge hockey series. She also floated the idea of a national mentoring program in town, where national team players would lead other younger players.

“Our big thing is we’re always trying to increase awareness and promotion,” she said.

For more information on the national women’s sledge hockey program, visit www.canadianwomensledgehockey.com, www.facebook.com/CSWHT or www.twitter.com/CSHWT.

OBA Bantam “C” championships come to Amherstburg

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

Some of the finest bantam baseball teams in the province came to Amherstburg over the Labour Day weekend.

The Amherstburg Minor Baseball Association (AMBA) hosted the four-day tournament with games played at the Libro Centre, Malden Centre Park and in Harrow. It was a 12-team tournament with local teams including Kingsville and the host Amherstburg Cardinals, both of which played in the Sun Parlour Baseball Association.

Mitchell won the tournament Monday morning with a come-from-behind 8-5 victory over Listowel.

The Mitchell Astros won the OBA Bantam “C” title with an 8-5 win over Listowel Monday at the Libro Centre.

Dan Hebert, umpire-in-chief with the AMBA and one of the volunteers working at the tournament, said it was a bantam “C” division tournament, with the “C” designation being as a result of the size of the centre.

“We’re ‘C’ based on the population compared to other centres,” he said.

It has been at least a decade since Amherstburg has hosted an OBA tournament and Hebert said they hope to get more in the future.

“We’re trying to impress and get more people coming to Amherstburg,” he said.

Aiden Foreman connects with a pitch during Amherstburg’s game against Wyoming last Friday night at the Libro Centre.

Comments about the Libro Centre were positive, Hebert added, with AMBA trying to make it not just the centre of the county for baseball but also now trying to let the province know about the facilities here.

The Amherstburg Cardinals made it to Sunday’s games and ended with a 2-2 record. After losing Friday night to Wyoming under the lights at the Libro Centre, the Cardinals bounced back Saturday with wins over Woodstock and Kingsville. However, a loss Sunday morning to Mitchell resulted in the Cardinals being eliminated from the double-elimination tournament.

Rick Daly, manager of recreation services for the town, said bringing in an OBA tournament was a positive for the community.

“This is huge because it’s a provincial championship,” said Daly. “That’s what we’re trying to do at the Libro Centre.”

Amherstburg’s Ben Hodgson fields a ground ball at second base Saturday afternoon against Kingsville.

Daly said it takes time but they are attracting provincial and national events to Amherstburg. It was held the same weekend that the Canadian national women’s sledge hockey team had a selection camp indoors at the Libro Centre.

The diamond was closed last Thursday to prepare for the OBA tournament “to let facility staff polish and shine it for everyone,” said Daly. “We really want to put our best foot forward when it comes to events like this.”

General Amherst likely to field combined senior and junior team this season

 

 

By Ron Giofu

 

When the General Amherst Bulldogs take the field for the 2018 WECSSAA football season, they will likely be a mix of both senior and junior players.

John Rudak, who is coach of the senior Bulldogs, said he likely will have to combine both teams in order to put a team on the field this season. The juniors could be their own team as in previous seasons but Rudak said that would take an influx of players to help bolster the depth on the senior team.

Rudak pegged the chances at a combined team at 95 per cent, as of last Thursday afternoon’s practice at Centennial Park.

“So far, we’ve had 35-36 players out for all four of our practices, which is good,” he said last Thursday. “The bulk of this team is going to be junior players. We’ve got a good group of Grade 9’s.”

As players put on the pads this week, Rudak said numbers could grow into the 40’s if some players show up that have indicated they might. He was hopeful of more players at the end of the last school year, but noted that they have decided to pursue other options.

 

The General Amherst Bulldogs football team hit the field for the first time this season last week as practice has started for the 2018 WECSSAA season.

“People were interested enough at the end of last year but they changed their minds over the summer,” said Rudak.

With a combined roster, Rudak said the Bulldogs will be stronger than they were last year when the senior team went 0-6. He said there were players who weren’t dedicated to the sport last year and that there weren’t enough players so that he could substitute in people who had the dedication.

Rudak said he has no problem putting a Grade 10 player in the game over a more senior player if the younger player is more committed.

“Last year, we had no depth,” said Rudak.

Rudak added that it is nice coaching junior players, as they have fewer commitments that take them away from football. He said playing football allows young people to have fun and be competitive.

“Just to be part of something is important,” he said.

The Bulldogs won’t be the only combined team in the WECSSAA league this season, he pointed out, adding that there are schools with double the enrolment who don’t have a football program.

“We’re going to try and keep this going as long as we can,” said Rudak.