Volume 92, Issue 31
Thursday, October 29, 1998
behind closed doors
High school athletes ready to strut stuff at Vanier Cup
By David Vernon
The Vanier Cup has always been a chance for university athletes to showcase their talent in front of the entire country. This year even high school superstars will get their chance to put their skills to the test in the inaugural Vanier Cup combine.
Organizers, in conjunction with the CIAU, have agreed to hold the first ever high school combine on the Friday preceding the big game. The purpose of the event, as stated by many coaches across the country, is essentially to promote the Canadian game and allow coaches to see the talent coming out of high schools they may not be aware of.
Due to the large amount of recruiting which takes place in Ontario, the event will also give students from outside the province the chance to be noticed by the big schools and vice versa.
According to Dan McNally, head coach of the University of Toronto Blues, the combine brings with it a number of benefits.
"It will be a first come first serve basis for the athletes," McNally said. "The schools outside of Ontario will benefit the most from the combine. Essentially it will be better for the kids."
Aside from the exposure, the combine will come to represent the Canadian football communities, attempt to solidify the Canadian game and expose young athletes to the high quality of Canadian football programs.
However, offers from American schools are essentially the dream of every up and coming high school star. The combine is an attempt to make scholarship dreaming students aware that there is a viable alternative to staying in Canada.
"Hopefully the event will show these kids that Canadian schools have excellent programs and that there is a large amount of opportunity for young athletes at Canadian schools," said McMaster Maurader head coach Greg Marshall.
Mustang head coach Larry Haylor reiterated those sentiments, as he too recognizes the ultimate benefit for the high school participants.
"The intensity of recruiting is so high and often athletes are not informed of schools outside of Ontario. This will help to bring young athletes closer to schools outside of Ontario.
"I think that it's just wonderful."
Unfortunately for athletes in Western and Atlantic Canada, the long trip to Toronto may be somewhat costly and unmanageable. According to the CIAU's head office in Toronto, travel costs will not be reimbursed by the league, but will be a consideration based on the response to this year's event.
"This year is the first year we're running the event," said Jamie Boon, chair of the event. "If we get a good response this year, we may look to accommodate the athletes in the future."
The exposure that high school students will gain will not only benefit their future football careers, but is expected to provide a more entertaining Vanier Cup weekend.
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