York Lions Men’s Football head coach Tom Gretes, of the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, is confident that this will truly be the year for the men’s team. In the Toronto Star, Sept. 3, Gretes outlined the team’s plan to ride an early season wave made possible by a soft start to the schedule which will allow the Lions to start strong and build momentum. Gretes is confident the Lions could hit a school milestone by being undefeated at the midway point of the schedule. Since 1968, when York launched its football program, the best it could do was 3-0 in 1997. With good coaches, strong recruiting, the season looks good for the red and white. “You have to start off strong and build momentum and be ready for the tough games,” Gretes said. “I think we’ll do just fine. The guys know what the mission is and the coaches will be there to make sure they head in the right direction.” While Gretes is known for his success as a defensive coach, he was successful in persuading former University of Ottawa coach Andy McEvoy to join the Lions staff this year. McEvoy was the GeeGees’ offensive coordinator when they won the Vanier Cup.
“We believe we have it all this year,” Gretes said. “The challenge is to improve as athletes and win the big games.”
On Labour Day, York opens the season at Guelph, then plays host to Ottawa for the 2004 Homecoming game, before hitting the road for games in Waterloo and at Varsity Field against Toronto. The Lions then match up against the perennial tough teams of Queen’s, McMaster, Windsor and Laurier. The opening of the Lions’ training camp was also covered live by “Citypulse” (CITY-TV), Sept. 2.
Running away to the circus
Kenneth Little, York University anthropology professor in the Faculty of Arts, was quoted in the Globe and Mail Sept. 3 about gymnast Anna Zlatkova, one of many Eastern European circus artists and gymnasts who are leaving their native countries for lack of opportunities to pursue a career in North America. The Cirque du Soleil performer trained in gymnastics for 12 years and competed with the Bulgarian national team. But when the team did not qualify for the Olympic Games, Zlatkova decided to pursue a career abroad and auditioned for the Ringling Brothers Circus in 1999. She eventually moved to the Cirque du Soleil production, Alegria and has been with the company for about 10 months. Little says with the growth in the number of shows running and more coming to rehearsals and production, “there are not that many circus artists around any more. In a sense, there’s a question of supply and demand.”
Little, who travelled with circuses before the collapse of communism, calls Eastern European artists “incredible taskmasters and incredibly dedicated. I mean, to the point of excessive dedication — they practise and practise and practise.” Little says the Russian and Bulgarian training manuals for circus arts are more like “extraordinary encyclopedias of kinesthetics.” He says, “There is a real scientific parsing down of movements and bodily locomotion and it is all perfectly classified and organized.”
Zlatkova confirms the rigorous training routines she underwent in Eastern Europe. Even now, Cirque du Soleil recruiters attend the Olympic Games and other championships to scout for gymnastic talent. Little says the circus performers tended to be more accepted in Eastern Europe and revered as sport heroes because, “with the state apparatus supporting the artists or the training of the artists, it gave circus a kind of cachet and an official institutional form that circus never had before.” But after the fall of communism, the same programs fell by the wayside and performers like Zlatkova were forced to pursue their careers outside the countries that moulded them.
- Joel Lexchin