Wrestling Not The Same in Toronto Schools
Something called "The Whizzer" had a huge role in the demise of high school wrestling in the Toronto Catholic District School Board.
Almost 30 years ago, an over-the-hip throw resulted in an injury that paralyzed a high school wrestler from the neck down. Jim Lorefice was 16 years old at the time, a student at Cardinal Newman High, and newspaper reports said that he was attempting the throw during a wrestling competition and fell awkwardly on his head. He suffered a broken neck and crushed verterbrae.
Not sure whatever happened to him, but wrestling took a back seat in the Toronto Catholic Board for years. Only recently have a few schools started up teams, but the Toronto District Colleges Athletic Association doesn't have a championship and the sport is not even mentioned on its website.
Some people don't like wrestling at the school level. Some do. I really don't care - as long as students understand the sport, have qualified coaches, officials are quick with the whistle and medical staff are nearby - if needed. Injuries happen, serious ones too, in many sports. I also know school officials shake fearing legal battles from injuries.
The Ontario high school wrestling championships, boys and girls, are set for Tillsonburg in a few weeks. Should be some very good competition - and the sport is very strong in the regions surrounding Toronto. But in the big city, a hard sell. Interest, even in the Toronto District School Board, isn`t as popular as in past.
I remember reporting from the provincial school finals last year and was very impressed with Johnathan Hatzis, a kid with the heart of a champion. He was born without legs and almost won the gold medal in his 41 kilos weight category. We could all learn a few things from his determination to participate - despite a disability. And how about Dustin Carter, a wrestler from a small town in Ohio, who also got through adversity to participate. Saw his video on You Tube.