York is committed to its football program, says VP students

Is the death of football at two of Canada’s top universities inevitable? asked David Grossman of the Toronto Star Aug. 31.

Prompted by a string of dismal seasons at York University and the University of Toronto, pulling the plug just might be the easy way to end the misery that has plagued the schools’ football teams for more than a decade, wrote Grossman.

But new administrations at both universities, aware of the mounting frustrations, remain hopeful of a turnaround and say football has been given the go-ahead to continue – at least for now.

Rob Tiffin, York’s vice-president students, says football has been given a vote of confidence. “Our commitment is to rebuild, kind of like the Maple Leafs, and it takes time,” says Tiffin. “We know success means improving in the win column, and we will keep adding, recruiting and retaining those players.”

As for York, the Lions are looking for their first win in the past three years. Despite a 22-53 record in the last decade, York lost 47 consecutive games from 1988 to 1995 and only made the playoffs once, with a 5-3 record in 2002.

“People have asked questions about football, but we have no intention of ending it at York,” says Jennifer Myers, the University’s director of athletics. “(Football) is a valuable asset to our students. Being competitive and showing progress, that’s our objective. We now have a coach who has had an impact and we need to reap the rewards.”

At one time, Toronto Argonauts running back Jeff Johnson (BA Spec. Hons. ’02), a York graduate, didn’t think his strong commitment to academic excellence would allow him enough time to play university football. “I wouldn’t be with the Argos if it wasn’t for football at York,” says Johnson, who joined York at the tail end of the 47-game losing streak. “Kids come to be part of a change and it takes some time, combined with a good coach and support from the senior administration.”

Johnson isn’t happy with the on-field record of his alma mater. “Mention York University now and people think of a poor football program but win a few games and all that changes,” says Johnson, a three-time Ontario University Athletics all-star and two-time all-Canadian for York in the late ’90s.

Andre Durie, his Argo teammate and York’s athlete of the year in 2005, says dumping the football program would be a huge step backwards. “Not a good move – that amounts to quitting and I don’t think that is the message an educational institution wants to present to students,” says Durie. “It’s getting the right combination and sticking with a successful plan.”

Ex-Leaf McCauley will speak from experience at York brainstorming

For 15 National Hockey League (NHL) seasons, Paul Kariya’s dynamic presence made him a leader on the ice. Now his absence [due to a concussion] may make him a vanguard off it, wrote the Toronto Star Aug. 31.

“It might make it easier for other guys to make a similar decision,” says former Maple Leaf Alyn McCauley, who will be one of the speakers at a concussion management symposium on York University’s Keele campus Tuesday night.

McCauley is not an expert on concussions, but he is experienced. A crafty and diligent forward during nine NHL seasons, McCauley says he had “three significant” concussions during his junior and pro career and other, less significant ones “that weren’t all documented, not even by me.”

McCauley, who now works as a pro scout for the Los Angeles Kings, will be part of a panel of doctors and educators at York’s Tribute Community Recital Hall.

The symposium, called Blow by Blow: Sport Concussion Management, was organized in honour of Don Sanderson, a York student who hit his head on the ice during a fight while playing senior hockey for the Whitby Dunlops last season. He fell into a coma and died from his injuries.

NDP struggles to maintain cohesion ahead of crucial vote

The federal New Democrats walk a politically perilous line when it comes to gun control – one that was drawn when the party was born decades ago in the heart of rural Canada, wrote The Globe and Mail Aug. 31.

“There is no question that historically the CCF-NDP has been both a rural party and an urban party,” said James Laxer, a political science professor in York University’s Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies who once ran for the leadership of the federal NDP.

The party started as the Co-operative Commonwealth Federation. It was first elected to government in Saskatchewan, and its initial base was the agricultural community. When Tommy Douglas took the CCF to victory in the Saskatchewan provincial election of 1944, “the basic promise was: we are going to defend the family farm,” Laxer said.

But the NDP has been an urban party for decades, Laxer said.

The New Democrats hold some seats that are considered part of rural Canada – particularly in Northern Ontario and the Interior of British Columbia. The MPs for those ridings oppose the long-gun registry.

But even in Saskatchewan, the party’s support is now concentrated in the cities. And Dr. Laxer said it could easily travel to the Liberals if the NDP is blamed for killing the gun registry.

“If NDP votes cause the gun registry to go down, it will be a disaster for the NDP as a federal party in this country,” said Laxer. “Jack [Layton] will be seen as the political leader when the gun registry went down.”

Osgoode grad killed in motorcycle accident

Paul Feldman (LLB ’73) studied at the University of Toronto before attending law school at York’s Osgoode Hall Law School, graduating in 1973. He supported himself through those years and lived frugally. Married in 1970, Paul set up a law practice in Toronto, wrote his sister Judy Marcovitch and partner Judy Adler in The Globe and Mail Aug. 31.

When Paul developed psoriatic arthritis his world came to a standstill, from motorcycles to practising law to everyday life. He became reclusive, relying on a cane. After receiving an experimental drug he was able to walk unaided and resume his passion for motorcycle riding.  

In 2008, Paul found a new love – a BMW R1200RT. That year Paul also started a new life with Judy Adler. They shared many passions, including BMW motorcycles.

Paul had a ready joke for all – he loved to laugh and make others laugh. Family was a passion for him, whether keeping current with his sister Judy, delighting in watching his niece and nephew grow up or having long conversations with his partner’s mother Agi.

Paul’s last trip was a three-week motorcycle holiday with his partner Judy, each on their own bikes. Paul awoke the morning of his last day (July 21) in a tent just outside Yosemite National Park, saying he was among the luckiest men alive. That afternoon his life ended when he drove off the road in the Nevada desert.

Those he loved and left behind will always remember him as a kind, generous, intelligent and quick-witted man. He left us much too soon, but he died doing what he loved more than anything – riding his bike to new adventures.

Lakehead and York hockey teams will meet in Orillia

The Lakehead University Thunderwolves men’s hockey team will visit Orillia this fall to face off against rivals the York University Lions, wrote the Orillia Packet & Times Aug. 31.

The game is set for Saturday, Oct. 30, and will take place at the new West Orillia Sports Complex on University Avenue, next to Lakehead’s new campus facility.

“We look forward to our upcoming game against the Lions to be played in Orillia,” Thunderwolves coach Joel Scherban said. “York University has become one our biggest rivals over the past decade and we are excited to play them at Lakehead University’s Orillia campus.”

Good news for ATVers and motorcyclists: You’re exercising!

A new study sponsored by the All-Terrain Quad Council of Canada (AQCC), the Motorcyclist Confederation of Canada (MCC) and the government of Nova Scotia suggests ATV and off-road motorcycle riding offer aerobic health benefits, wrote New Brunswick’s Kings County Record Aug. 31.

Conducted by a team of four in York University’s Physical Activity & Chronic Disease Unit in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science, Faculty of Health, the purpose of the research was “to characterize the physiological demands of recreational off-road vehicle (ORV) riding.”

According to York grad Jamie Burr (MSc ’06, PhD ’10) who graduated in April, this alternative form of exercise conforms to the recommended physical activity guidelines and can be effective for achieving beneficial changes in health and fitness.”

He added, “Off-Road Vehicle (ORV) riding is similar in aerobic demand to many other recreational, self-paced, sporting activities such as golf, rock climbing and alpine skiing.”

Facebook narcissists’ may have self-esteem issue, study says

You could be an online narcissist if you keep updating your status and posting pouty profile pictures on Facebook.

An analysis by researchers from York University’s Faculty of Health suggests that egotism and low self-esteem may be related to “greater online activity” among Facebook profiles of users between 18- to 25-years old, wrote the International Business Times News Aug. 30.

On air

  • York students Linda Nguyen, Ayeza Perez and Paula Nieto sent a photo of themselves lining up to buy student ID cards from the TTC to CP24-TV Aug. 30.