By Jaspreet Grewal
Friday Night Lights
The University of Toronto Varsity Blues held their home opener this past Friday at the newly built Goldring Centre For High Performance Sport as they hosted a talented and athletic Nipissing Lakers squad. U of T Swingman Devin Johnson, who poured in a game-high 23 points to go along with 11 rebounds and Blues’ big man Denis Ankrah, who contributed 15 points and 7 rebounds, were men among boys as they willed their way to an impressive 72-59 win over the Lakers. Jordon Campbell led Nipissing with 14 points and 10 rebounds in 36 minutes of action while Toronto native Marcus Lewis chipped in with 14 of his own.
Toronto stepping up their game in the world of high performance athletics
Friday’s action between Nipissing and the University of Toronto marked the inauguration of the distinctive and aesthetically pleasing Goldring Centre.
Aside from the visual splendor attached to the new arena – with its burnished new hardwood floor and the goliath-sized digital LED screen propped up behind the north-side hoop, as well as game-ops that can undoubtedly rival many Division I institutions and pro basketball league facilities worldwide – it’s the architecture (which allows for unblemished hearing and acoustics) and sheer fan-capacity that gives credence to the new facility, and it’s precisely why the Goldring Centre is unparalleled when comparing it to other university or College arenas in Toronto; and there aren’t many facilities in and around the GTA that can rival the Blues’ new home. In fact, there aren’t many Canadian university or college facilities that carry their own Jumbotron that display statistics, live replays, highlight plays and much more.
The Ryerson Rams are another Toronto based university looking to change the perception of high performance athletics with their stunning Mattamy Athletic Centre (former home of Maple Leaf Gardens). Although the Rams’ new facility is relatively new and impressively structured – with its open concept gymnasium, the upper-level sitting area for VIP, and its vibrant colour scheme spanning all across the gym confines – it pales in comparison to the Goldring Centre, and that’s not a knock on the Mattamy Athletic Centre but rather the allure and magnetism attached to the new home of the Blues. It’s really that good.
It seems as though both Toronto based universities are playing their part in improving high performance athletics within Southern Ontario with the Mattamy Athletic Centre and the Goldring Centre, respectively. The idea now is that both institutions – with their new look homes — have set a precedent for other post-secondary institutions, particularly in the GTA. It seems that it’s time for York University to join in on the action and undergo a complete overhaul of their facility. With enough (indirect) pressure from neighboring institutions to enforce change as well as financial sustenance on behalf of York’s head office management, there’s no doubt that a domino effect can unfold; the hope is that basketball will become a prevailing crest of Canadian sport’s culture and it starts with promoting Canadian basketball talent from the grassroots level to the professional ranks. It’s only a matter of time before Canada basketball redefines the stereotype against Canadians and their love affair with hockey. So long as the sport receives the adequate support and encouragement from fans and organizations nation wide, there should be no skepticism concerning the future of basketball in Canada. The future looks bright.
By Jas Grewal
Photos Courtesy of U of T & Ellis Don