Henry Carr's field of dreams shy $500,000

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  • November 19, 2009
{mosimage}TORONTO - Fr. Henry Carr High School supporters hope to build a $1.5 million “field of dreams” for their students and neighbourhood community.

Right now they’re about $500,000 shy of achieving that dream but hope to bridge the gap with the help of famous Carr alumni like former NHL star Pat Flatley, CFL/NFL veteran Kerry Carter and TV personality Enrico Colantoni.

While the federal and Ontario governments have donated $1.046 million, the school needs to raise $523,000 more to complete the first phase of the project. This would include an artificial turf field, a six-lane rubberized track and rough-ins for night lighting and a scoreboard. Another $2.5 million would be needed for the project’s second phase, a stadium facility to house football locker rooms, soccer change rooms, a concession stand, along with outdoor basketball courts, a mini-soccer pitch and seating for 1,520 people.

Principal Michael Rossetti says the project is crucial because of the lack of facilities in the neighbourhood.

“North Etobicoke is in need of this type of facility because I think it’s a quadrant of the city that tends to be ignored,” Rossetti told The Register.

The field would also help revitalize the Jamestown-Rexdale area which has been highlighted as an at-risk priority neighbourhood by Mayor David Miller, he added.

The field, Rosetti said, would be open to students and community members to “give hope, opportunity and pride.”

Graduates like former New York Islanders’ captain Flatley, the Montreal Alouettes’ Carter and CTV’s Flashpoint star Colantoni are supporting the project and attended a Nov. 5 fund-raising dinner that raised $35,000 for the sports field.

Flatley told The Catholic Register he supports the project because he wants to give students the same opportunities he had.

“We all came from humble beginnings,” he said, recalling his parents who came to Canada from Ireland and having to attend 6:30 a.m. hockey practices before school.

Alumni involved in the project, he said, are “relating it to their own youth, going back in time and imagining no one caring about us and not having the facilities to play hockey and not having the opportunities that we had.”

Flatley credits his successful hockey career to his time at Henry Carr where he learned from coaches like Peter Miller and Dan Cameron the value of team work, accountability and the importance of academics.

“For teachers at Henry Carr, playing hockey didn’t mean anything to them,” Flatley said with a laugh.

He recalls a wake-up call from an English teacher who told him he should quit hockey out of concern for his grades. Flatley said he focused on his studies more so he could continue playing hockey, saying Miller drove home to his players that success in sports and academics were inseparable. About 15 of the 20 players on the hockey team Flatley played for at Carr received athletic scholarships because of this mentality, he said.

According to Rossetti, more than 250 alumni in several sports have attended American colleges on scholarships. Melissa Boadu is one of the students who hopes to follow in their footsteps. Boadu, 15, runs track and field and was on the relay team that broke nine invitational meet records last year.

Boadu said she is taking to heart her coach’s advice to “use your track wisely” and study hard to attain a scholarship.

It’s these lessons of discipline, hard work and success, says the school’s founder and first principal, Fr. Thomas Mohan, which he hopes a high-quality, sports facility at the school will bring.

“It’s a way of saying to these young people that yes, we believe in you. Yes, go ahead and do it. You can compete with anybody in this country but you have to work, practise and be really, really good,” Mohan said. “Here’s the facility and make yourself be that good and win.”

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