Written By: Mike O’Hearn
Mike O’Hearn was a graduate of Eastern Commerce in 1973. He was MVP for the basketball and volleyball teams every year was the captain of the soccer team. O’Hearn ran on the cross-country teams and participated in on track & field teams as well. He had the honour of being awarded the Athlete of the year in his junior year of High School. He also very active with the school’s newspaper and yearbook committee and went on to attend Centennial College after Eastern Commerce where he played for the Colts. After college O’Hearn worked for the University of Toronto Press as a Traffic Manager, looking after their customs and transportation needs. He was just recently inducted into the Ontario Masters Fastball Hall of Fame, an honor that was given to him for the great teams Mike has coached/played for. O’Hearn still plays and coaches competitive men’s fastball with gentlemen half his age. Mike shares his memories of Eastern Commerce Collegiate.
Coming into high school, my choices were Eastern Commerce, Danforth Tech and Riverdale Collegiate. In those days, you only went to a Collegiate if you planned on going to University afterwards and I wasn’t. You went to Danforth to learn a trade and I wasn’t good with tools. So Eastern was the best choice for me. I never regretted making that choice. From the first day I walked in and saw that tiny gym I knew I’d chosen the right place to go. Eastern was like home to me. A place I went every day where I felt respected and that I made a difference. I didn’t have much of a home life so Eastern was a safe haven for me.
My fondest memories were all the sports stories I took away. Playing and winning MVP’s on the basketball and volleyball teams were things that standout in my mind the most. Working hard with my teammates to obtain all of our team goals were the most important things for me on top of being the MVP. I joined the cross-country team because they needed another runner to complete the team. Having no practice nor having ran the course before, I was able to finish 34th out of 150 runners. I felt I could have done better but I had to keep some runners in front of me so I wouldn’t get lost or go off the course. It was a fun experience for me and I enjoyed every moment of it. The tremendous spirit at the school was second to none. In the 70’s, there was a lot of issues that us as students wanted to stand up for. We would have mass walkouts when we were protesting something. It was a way for us as students to express ourselves through non-violence. The fan support at our games were second to none. The gym maybe small, but the atmosphere in there is so intimate, that it makes it hard for teams to function. It was a great feeling to be in there.
Teamwork is a big thing that I’ve carried with me to teams that I coach today. Our team did everything together, hanging out both on and off the field/court. Through being a tight knit group of guys, we were able to stay together when things became tense. Teams would talk a lot of trash to us on and off the court, but we never let it rattle us and we backed it up with the way we played, through class and integrity. My volleyball coach Mr. Armanios was a guy I’d run through a wall for. He was passionate about our success and the team and I would have done anything for him. Al Quance was not just a coach, he became a lifelong friend. He was so influential in teaching boys how to be men. I have so much respect for him. He knew how be easy to talk to when it was needed and to put the fear in you when he needed to gain respect out of you. Mr. Goldstein and Mr. Johnson weren’t rah rah types of guys to play for, but quietly got your respect and attention.
Some of my happiest memories in my life are from Eastern Commerce. The things I take from my time there I will cherish until the end of my days. It was the best fit for me that had its part in creating the man that you see today. The motto of Eastern Commerce “Enter to Learn, go forth to serve”, was something that every faculty member helped instil in all of its students. It’s a sad day to see the school close at the end of this year. The next generation of young adults will miss out on the tradition and passion that this school has created for itself.
Written by Mike O’Hearn
Submitted by: Kareem Griffin
Edited by Drew Ebanks