Last week I attended my seventh (!!) OFSAA Track and Field Championships in Toronto. OFSAA is a pretty big deal here in Ontario. For all high school sports, it is the highest you can go in the province at the secondary school level. There are other track meets in the summer, including a few National level meets, but those are all affiliated with the track clubs. A large group of student-athletes will compete in both school and track club events, so if you are involved in that world, you tend to recognize many of the athletes. Not all OFSAA champions are related to a track club though – I’ve had several students qualify who are not club-athletes at all. Sometimes the club athletes don’t even make OFSAA. It is that competitive.
This year I only had two athletes qualify for OFSAA. To qualify, you have to be top four in your respective region. I had two students who placed 5th, so that was a little sad. For the first time since I’ve coached this particular team, I had no hurdlers. My athletes were in the 100m and 200m events. This basically meant that we could sleep in because hurdles are always first thing in the morning. OFSAA Track rotates around the province. This year was a Metro’s year, which meant that we were located in Toronto. Toronto is the only city that has a region all to itself. When I was in high school track, OFSAA was held at a track in the west end – but since the PanAm games have altered all the athletic facilities, we were able to use Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto. This track is right in the middle of downtown Toronto and a fantastic (and fast) track. We were able to have OFSAA here in 2009 as well, since the west-end track was being re-done.
The city of Ottawa teams travel as one big group, which means this coach gets to relax for five hours in a coach-bus instead of driving. This time I came prepared with movies. We watched McFarland first and then another student brought WIthout Limits (a Prefontaine biopic) to get us in the mood for some track meet fun. We arrived in Toronto a bit later than scheduled, so if you were in Toronto and noticed a group of kids running down University Avenue with a bunch of Pole vault poles, now you know 😉 We had no events on Thursday, so we went to Varsity Stadium to get our bibs, OFSAA sweaters and watch a few events. One of my students had never visited Toronto before and wanted to go up the CN Tower – so that is what we did!
I quickly realized that I no longer like heights.
The next day was a busier day since the 100m events were up. First things first, breakfast! We were staying at a University of Toronto dorm. This dorm wasn’t your typical dorm since it used to be a Holiday Inn. The rooms were huge. I got a private room, and although the room was a bit dated and had some weird stains on the carpet, it was fine for me. The best part of the dorm was the breakfast. It was all you can eat style with bacon, eggs, pancakes, cereal and all the fixings. I was even impressed they had all the milk options too: organic, skim, chocolate, soy and regular 2%. The only thing that was disappointing was the coffee, but since I was in Toronto there were plenty of Starbucks locations to keep me caffeinated.
One of my students made the finals in the 100m and placed 7th overall, amazing! We also had a huge thunderstorm roll by and delay the track meet by an hour. So much rain!
The second night I took the kids to Pizzeria Libretto aka the best pizza joint in Toronto. They loved it! We had meatballs to share and each devoured our own pizza and dessert. We went to a chain restaurant the night before and pretty much paid the same amount of money for our meals. But the meal at Pizzeria Libretto was just so much more delicious. I could probably eat there every day.
On Saturday, we had a very late start since our event wasn’t until noon. Lucky for me, the Nike Toronto 15K had an early race kit pickup only 2 minutes from my dorm. I managed to get my race kit and one additional purchase done and back at the dorm by 10am. As I walked back, I noticed that there was a film crew in the parking lot. The night before I saw a tow truck towing two Gotham City Police Cruisers down University Avenue. I quickly realized that due to the high security, fencing that was blocking all views into the trailer-city, and huge SUV’s going in and out, that this was the “base camp” for Suicide Squad! Cool! Apparently Will Smith was hanging off buildings or something.
That day, my parents came up to watch a few of the track events and then we went to Hemingway’s for lunch. I love their rooftop patios! Last time I was there was during the 2009 OFSAA.
Soon enough, it was 6pm and time to head back to Ottawa. I had my bus seat packed with the essentials: book, movie, timbits, croissant sandwich and water. We watched Dark Knight and Mrs. Doubtfire. We didn’t get back until past midnight. Of course Max woke me up at 5:45am the next morning. SO tired!
Track and Field trips are always fun. I heard the rumour that next year is at Windsor – hello 8+ hours on a bus! I best bring 15 movies this time.
Also – random note: we were staying just one block away from the STWM start line. Glad to see that the “big hill” at the beginning of the course is not a hill at all. YAY!