The return of a football program four years ago to Sir Robert Business & Technical Institute was warmly welcomed by school administrators and students.
Leading the cheerleaders was Quenton Campbell who played a huge part in launching the sports program.
“I love the sport and I knew coming in that they did not play football here,” said the 17-year-old Grade 12 student. “That’s why I did everything I could to help get one off the ground for my second year at the school.”
Starting any new program requires lots of hard work and patience and someone to lead from the top as a coach and mentor.
Toronto Police Service Constable Martin Douglas, who relishes working with young people, proved to be the ideal candidate.
As a school resource officer at the East Scarborough school, he was familiar with the environment and most of the students.
“The then principal was enthusiastic and that was critical,” said Douglas who is the Toronto Crime Stoppers youth & social media officer. “I also saw some potential in the boys that expressed an interest in playing, so I was very optimistic.”
As expected, there were growing pains at the beginning.
Borden lost all of its matches the first season, failing to score a touchdown or field goal.
“That first year was difficult, but it was a learning process for us,” said Campbell who is the captain.
The school lost some of its players after the first year, opening the door for Sir Oliver Mowat Collegiate Institute – which was without a football team – to join forces with them.
With assistance from Staff Sergeant George Farrell and his son Greg along with Douglas’ brother and a few friends, the coaching staff has been able to mould the combined team into a formidable unit. The players practice for about three hours five times weekly during the season and the coaches ensure they pay attention to detail and play the sport the right way.
The Spartans, which is the name the two schools adopted for their football team – scored their first touchdown two seasons ago and they won four of five games and the Murchie Hibbert Bowl last year.
The progress was slow and gradual, but I knew that the players had the fight in them to succeed on the field,” said Douglas who played the sport at Cedarbrae Collegiate Institute before becoming a cop 14 years ago. “Team work, discipline, respect and dedication are some of the things you learn from this sport and I have seen the guys pick up on some of these essential things needed to be successful in life.”
Campbell, who is also Borden’s basketball captain, said Douglas and his coaches’ contribution to the program have been enormous.
“They have meant everything to it,” he said. “I had some anger issues that I am now better able to channel and manage and I think I am a better person overall because of being part of the football program.”
The running back/half back and safety plans to return to the school for the 2013-14 semester to secure some more credits and help the team win another title.
The Spartans celebrated their first title at its inaugural banquet last week.
BY RON FANFAIR