Special To The Standard
SCUGOG: Port Perry's Christian Elliott continued an impressive year on the links last week, as he captured the championship, at the Toronto Star Amateur.
The title came as a relief to the 20-year-old Scugog native, as he prepares for his senior season, as a member of the golf team at Penn State, in the fall.
Elliott notched a final round score of 71 on Friday, July 22, to finish with a four-round total of 288. He shared in his post-tournament comments, this finished him one stroke ahead of the runner-up, avenging a second place showing at last year's event.
"Coming second last year and being so close, it's been a long time coming. Been a while since I've won a tournament, so it's nice to have the monkey off my back," Elliott said.
In his junior season at Penn State, Elliott posted a Top-5 finish and a pair of Top-10's, firing a season low round of 69, (two under) in the second round of the Rutherford Intercollegiate in April, helping the Nittany Lions to a tournament championship.
As a student at Port Perry High School, Elliott was part of a LOSSA champion match-play team for the Rebels.
DARRYL KNIGHT Special To The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Jessica Phoenix will be taking on the best in the world later this summer, at the Summer Olympics, in Rio de Janeiro.
The Wilfrid resident was named to Team Canada on Thursday, July 14, and will be looking to improve on a 22nd place showing at the 2012 London Games, when she and her mount, A Little Romance, trek to Brazil for the eventing competition, scheduled to take place between Aug. 6 and 9.
In addition to competing in London, Ms. Phoenix also qualified for the 2008 Beijing Olympics, before being forced to withdraw, due to an injury suffered during training, by her horse, Exploring.
Last summer, in front of many family and friends, Ms. Phoenix captured a pair of eventing medals at the Pan Am Games - a silver in individual competition and an overall bronze as part of Team Canada
This week, ahead of her latest stint representing her country, Ms. Phoenix is slated to host an Olympic celebration for her family, friends and fans, at 6 p.m., on Thursday, July 21, at the Wilfrid Community Hall located at C20915 Brock Road. The celebratory evening will feature a 50/50 draw and a silent auction.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: In his 23rd year coaching the Port Perry Angels, Rick Finlay’s passion for the sport of softball remains strong.
Finlay first joined the Angels organization in 1992. At the time he was approached about the job, he was coaching a team in Pickering.
“(Don Hurst) approached me, and I said that I’ve got Canada Summer games coming up and in 1992 I had to go to the Worlds with my seniors to represent Canada in Beijing, China,” Finlay said. “So I said ‘as soon as I get this done, I have 1993 Canada Summer games, I’ll see what I can do here.’ In 1992 I actually started putting a team together for 1993 here.”
Finlay told The Standard that at the time, he didn’t think he would be with the organization that long.
“I thought it was just going to be a couple of years, as I was thinking of maybe retiring. We just got so many good kids that came out that wanted to play that I just kept going and we started adding another team here and there,” he said.
In 1993, he was named club president. Finlay said he decided not to have an executive because he has seen situations where organizations fail because of differences of opinion.
“I deal with the coaches and stuff because I sort of think I know what needs to be done, and I’ve watched a lot of organizations go down because of bickering and arguing,” he said. “So the coaches all know that I say what we are doing and that is how it is going to be. I’ve been there, done that, so something must have worked.”
When asked if there is one team he coached that sticks out in his mind, he mentioned the 2003 Midget team.
“We qualified for Nationals, and we finished third that year in the province. We went to Nationals and knocked out the two Ontario teams that had finished ahead of us, and we ended up third behind (British Columbia) and Alberta,” Finlay said. “That was probably the most exciting team because they were a really good bunch of kids.”
Also, in 2000, Finlay took 26 Angels from his Midget and Junior Teams to Australia for a 26 game tournament.
“I had an ex coach friend of mine from Ontario. He had moved down there and taken over Softball Australia and we kept in touch,” he said.” He invited us down there and had set up a 13 doubleheader schedule for us. We even got to play at the Olympic site before the Olympics. We played 20 games out of Canberra and 6 games out of Sydney. That was a treat, the girls still talk about that trip.”
The Port Perry Angels started with one Intermediate Women’s team, and the organization has grown to about a dozen teams under Finlay’s leadership.
“About five years ago we started the Squirt program, and since then we have been getting more and more kids in the area that want to play,” Finlay said. “Once they hear about the Angels, they all want to be an Angel.”
Finlay said being an Angel not only teaches you how to be successful in sport, but in the real world as well.
“I just tell (the girls) when you grow up and go into the real world, you need to be competitive, you need to be committed, you need to be hard workers,” he said.
That philosophy has paid off for many players, as Finlay said many of them have gone on to become doctors, lawyers, therapists, nurses among others. He also said he has received numerous calls from past Port Perry Angels, telling him playing in the environment he created has helped them become successful.
DAN CEARNS The Standard
SCUGOG: The Port Perry Angels softball club will be hosting a fun day, to celebrate their 25th anniversary, on Sunday, July 17.
All angels, past and present, are invited to Joe Fowler Park for a photo op. There will also be a barbecue and fun contests.
Coach Rick Finlay said this is a good event for players to reminisce in, as well as to inspire future Angels.
“We keeping getting younger kids out to watch, and we talk to them, and they say “yeah, we would like to play for the Angels.’ So we thought this would be a good promotional event,” he said. “It’s just something for people to remember their time with the Angels.”
The event will run from 2 p.m. until 4 p.m. The Angels have ten teams, including Mites, Squirts, Bantam, Novice and Midget levels.
KEM CEHAJIC Special To The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: It was an up and down week, in terms of results for the NDUFC competitive teams, but all the squads made sure they played hard, regardless of the score.
The U13 girls, sponsored by Family Worship Centre, defeated Darlington by a 3-1 score. Grace A had a pair and Brittany H scored the other for the girls in gold, with a total team commitment to defense, throughout the game. The three points, vault the team into third place in their division.
The U14 girls drew, with a tough Oshawa Turul team, at one goal each, which now leaves the dedicated team in 3rd place, as they compete in the U15 division. Scoring for North Durham was Emma V, as the girls did well to keep their focus on good strong play, as the game's intensity grew.
The Trading Post sponsored U16 boys team, struggled at times in their game against Whitby, but almost pulled off a result in dropping a 2-1 decision. Logan Griffiths powered his first of the season for coach Cole's club, but it wasn't enough, as the heat and hard surface wore the boys down. A big shout out to the U18 boys, as they keep on giving great efforts this season, despite playing in a very difficult league, struggles with numbers, and the odd suspension and injury. The players are to be commended on their pride, and with players such as Graham Menear leading the way, the results should start turning around soon.
In a fairly tame Euro Cup final, Portugal scored late in extra time, to defeat France 1-0 and win their first ever major championship. TFC have a couple of games on the road this week, after beating Chicago at home last Saturday. The Reds are trying to stay in playoff contention, until some of their key injured players get back to form.
DARRYL KNIGHT Special To The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Uxbridge's Julia Schell was part of the Canadian team that brought home silver medals last week, at the FISU Rugby Sevens Championships in Swansea, Wales, after falling 31-5 to France in the final on Saturday, July 9.
Canada had surged to a perfect 4-0 record, in the pool stages of the World University Championships, and downed China by a score of 7-5 in the cup semifinals, before falling to France in the championship match.
"This young group had to come together very quickly, and they did just that," head coach Jen Boyd said in a press release. "Bringing together a group of 12 athletes from across the country, to an international competition, is no easy feat.
The girls relished the challenge and represented Canada well, both on and off the pitch.
"For some, this was there first exposure to international competition in a high performance environment. They adapted quickly, with the help of great leadership from our carded athletes. All of these athletes will now return to provincial and club competition, to continue to help raise the bar of women's rugby in Canada."
Canada opened the tournament with a pair of wins on Day 1, with victories against Portugal and Spain. They opened play with a 14-12 win over Portugal, before wrapping up the first day of competition with a 17-5 victory over Spain.
On Day 2, Canada squared off against Australia and China, coming away with another perfect performance on the pitch, with a 36-0 rout of Australia, to open the day, with Schell adding a conversion for Team Canada, and a tightly contested 19-17 win over China, to wrap up the round robin.
DARRYL KNIGHT Special To The Standard
UXBRIDGE: Liam Blais' hockey journey has taken the 21-year-old Uxbridge native to Elliot Lake for the past two seasons, with the next chapter set to unfold in Wisconsin, after recently committing to join the hockey program at the University of Wisconsin-Superior in the fall.
“Finally signing, was a big relief, and I'm really excited for the opportunity," Blais told The Standard. "Not a lot of kids get the chance to play at the NCAA level, and Wisconsin-Superior is a great program with a new coach, looking for a fresh start. I'm excited to be part of what they are building.”
Blais noted that he chose to join the Yellow Jackets, after receiving interest from several schools in the northeast and midwest United States, following a pair of successful seasons at the Junior 'A' level. As Elliot Lake is in the Northern Ontario Junior Hockey League (NOJHL), the 5'10" 163 lb. centre emerged as one of the top defensive forwards in the league. As well, Blais expanded on his offensive role this past season, ranking among Elliot Lake's leading scorers, with 18 goals and 21 assists in 40 games.
"I'm planning to major in business, and the excellent academic reputation was really important to me. It's a great school, with great facilities including a recently renovated arena that's one of the best in the midwest," added Blais.
The move to the NCAA ranks concludes a less-than-typical minor and junior hockey career for Blais. While many of his peers spent considerable time with elite 'AAA' teams in their youth, Blais played the entirety of his minor hockey career with the Uxbridge Stars at the 'A' and 'AA' level, after starting in the Timbits program at age 4.
After captaining the Stars to a Lakeshore League championship and an OMHA quarterfinals appearance in his final Midget season, Blais joined his hometown Bruins for the 2013-14 season, taking home Most Improved Player honours. Prior to the 2014-15 season, hungry for further opportunities, Blais headed north to Elliot Lake, after turning heads over the summer at the prestigious TEP Showcase Tournament in Toronto.
“I take a lot of pride in the path that I've taken, and it's been a lot of hard work, with a lot of great support from my family. Moving to Elliot Lake and playing for the Wildcats, was an amazing opportunity to grow as a player," explained Blais. "I went from being on the ice two or three times a week, to working on my game every day. My sole purpose in my time there, was hockey, and it paid off with this new opportunity to play at Superior.”
The Wisconsin Yellow Jacket’s men's hockey team won the NAIA National Championship in 1976 and the NCAA Division III National Championship in 2002.
Follow The Standard on Twitter @TheStandardND, for all the latest hockey updates in North Durham.
KEM CEHAJIC Special To The Standard
NORTH DURHAM: The soccer season is now getting into summer, which means extra challenges for coaches and players.
The heat of July, combined with family vacations, are always issues that our teams face and work through, as the kids show their competitive spirit each time out.
The U13 Girls romped over their opponents from Peterborough last week, with a convincing 8-1 victory. The goal scoring was spread out between six players, with a pair coming from G Anderson and H Neale. Single markers were provided by J Thomson, N Stewart, H Doyle and B Hackner, as the well-rounded win vaulted the club into 3rd place in their division.
The U16 Boys dropped an evenly played cup game, to York Region powerhouse KNSC 4-2. The NDUFC boys, most playing against competition 1 or 2 years older, went toe to toe for the whole evening.
The best player on the pitch for either side was North Durham's Gibson Baird. Young Gibby provided both goals for the boys in gold, with a powerful header and a solo burst, that saw him beat 4 defenders and calmly put the ball into the back of the net.
The back four were terrific all game, as was keeper David Hoover who also had a strong match. The coaches were very proud of the team, as I'm sure the parents were.
TFC is struggling through the MLS schedule, without their starting keeper, captain, power forward and top Canadian.
This is where their ability, to produce home-grown Canadian players, will make or break the next six weeks or so.
Scheduled is the Final four in the Euro's, with Portugal up against hard-working Wales, and host France playing the always organized German team.
I would like to hear from coaches/managers on the younger teams, with any news on games or fun events, that involve their teams. Let me know at email@example.com