Lions football coach has eyes fixed on future success

When describing the York Lions offence [of last season], quarterback Bart Zemanak needed one word: suicide, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 5.

Under a system where game plans changed week to week let alone season to season, the fifth-year veteran said younger players were often lost in the shuffle. So, despite losing their home opener in a 40-7 blowout to the Windsor Lancers, Zemanak remains confident in new head coach Mike McLean’s coaching staff.

“These guys are phenomenal,” he said, admitting that he’s still adjusting to new offensive coordinator Beau Mirau’s system. The Toronto native spent last year playing in a football league in Finland and came back this year just to have the chance to play under McLean’s staff. “If it wasn’t for them I wouldn’t have been here right now,” he said.

McLean comes to York after spending the last two seasons as the defensive coordinator at Saint Mary’s University. The former Edmonton Eskimos linebacker knows his team is young but is focused on building a strong base to solidify the program’s future. “You can’t do trigonometry if you can’t add,” he said. “We believe what we believe and we’re a young team, and we’re going to build this team.”

Defensive back and team captain Jerome Walker is in his final year of eligibility, but isn’t worried with the team’s future in McLean’s hands. Not only does he have faith in his coaches, he said he knows they have complete faith in their players.

“I think trust is what we didn’t have in the past,” Walker said. “We want to win now, but if we have to sacrifice to win in the future then that’s what we’ll do this year.”

McLean is confident he’ll be able to build his team to eventually compete at a national level, proving the team’s growth and potential to alumni and other backers. “We’ve got a plan and our plan is to compete nationally,” McLean said.

Former Lion goes home to sit out a season

Receiver extraordinaire and former York Lion Steve Hughes won’t be practising much with the Hamilton Hurricanes football club for the rest of this season, wrote the Hamilton Spectator Sept. 5. Hughes left for his hometown of Ottawa this week to enrol as a student at the University of Ottawa.

Hughes opted to leave the Lions after two seasons because of a revolving door situation with the football team’s coaches. This year marks the third head coach in the past three years at the university. “I missed home a little, too,” he said. “That’s one of the other reasons I left. Ottawa is my hometown. It’s a lot cheaper living at home."

Hughes originally thought he would be eligible to suit up for Ottawa in the playoffs this season. However, that appeal was turned down last month by Canadian Interuniversity Sport officials.

York educator helps teachers engage black students

This year, the Toronto District School Board (TDSB) decided to establish a black-focused public school in a bid to reverse the 40-per cent high-school dropout rate among black youth, setting off a fierce debate about the merits of separating students, albeit voluntarily, for their own good , wrote the National Post Sept. 5 .

The Afrocentric alternative elementary school, which will open next September in a building that already houses another school, will deliver the Ontario elementary curriculum from an African perspective to any student who wishes to enrol. Proponents say it could engage marginalized students simply by validating their history, their context, in the classroom.

“Suppose you remove Afrocentric from it, and just simply say teaching…. However you approach it, it’s paying attention to the students,” says Carl James, a professor in York University’s Faculty of Education who was on the TDSB’s Afrocentric advisory committee. He is helping teachers in four north Toronto schools better engage their students. “Once you start doing that, you will start to think about the connections to other groups and their social existence.”

Osgoode prof to speak in St. Catharines

Niagara North Community Legal Assistance will host John McCamus, professor emeritus in York’s Osgoode Hall Law School and board chair of Legal Aid Ontario, as guest speaker at the annual general meeting, wrote the Welland Tribune Sept. 5.

McCamus will address the topic Legal Aid in Ontario: Current Challenges on Sept. 15. The meeting will be held at 6:30pm at Genesis Court, 151 James St., St. Catharines.

Student shopper knows her recalls

Walk into any grocery store in Toronto and you will notice Maple Leaf Food products dramatically reduced, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 5 in a story about shoppers’ reactions to a listeria outbreak that has plagued the company.

At Food Basics, Saria Irfam placed a pair of Maple Leaf boneless chicken breasts into her shopping basket. “Oh, I didn’t even notice it was Maple Leaf,” said the York University student, looking hesitant of her choice. “Well, it wasn’t part of the recall so I think it should be okay.”

Her final decision came down to the student budget: Maple Leaf was charging $4.80 for two chicken breasts versus a competitor’s $8.65.

Durie set to return to Argos lineup

The CFL’s Toronto Argonauts have added another running back to their mix in Andre Durie, added to the active roster after nine weeks on the injury list, wrote the Toronto Star Sept. 5. Durie, a Mississauga native and former star with York University, has been out since breaking his thumb in the first pre-season game in Montreal.

“He’s a special person,” said Stubler. “When he came out of university, I don’t know if I’d seen a lot of people with the ability and moxie to do a lot of the stuff he did. I’m excited to have him back. It’s going to take him some time to get in the groove. Basically, he’s still a rookie.”

Durie, who got into five games with the Argos last season – scoring a TD on his first CFL carry – is a long-shot possibility to dress for Sunday’s game in Montreal.

“I’m ready,” he said. “Just waiting for the time they need me. If I do dress (given Montreal is where he got hurt), it’ll kind of be like picking up where I left off.”

  • The Argos announced that York University product Andre Durie has been added to the 46-man active roster after the elusive running back broke his thumb on a freakish play in the pre-season opener, wrote The Toronto Sun Sept. 5.

There is even a chance Durie may dress for Sunday’s game against the host Montreal Alouettes, culminating a long road back to the gridiron that has seen him undergo knee and hand surgery. “I feel good,” he said. “I haven’t felt like this in a long time. I feel excited and I feel healthy.”

On air

  • Bernie Wolf, professor in York’s Schulich School of Business, spoke about the Canadian economy and the next election, on CBC Newsworld Sept. 3.