Big grant for St. Mike’s sports

[attach]6679[/attach]Announcing new funding for St. Michael’s College sports facilities is coming full circle for Patrick Brown.

Before becoming the MP for Barrie, Brown was a student at the school, graduating in 1997. He has fond memories of playing hockey St. Mike’s arena.

“I represent Barrie, but I know what St, Mike’s does for this area,” said Brown, at the ceremony Jan. 25. “I thought it would be a worthwhile cause to rally behind.

“The rink hasn’t changed at all since I was here in ’97, you could see why there are upgrades required. It’s a pretty special school, a close-knit community. They believe in giving back to the community, in social services, in volunteers and I think St. Mike’s is a heart of the broader community.”

Over $460,000 has been committed from the federal Community Infrastructure Improvement Fund to the arena and other St. Mike’s sport facilities, boosting the Hillcrest Village Community Project. An additional $900,000 has been secured from St. Michael’s College.

St. Mike’s is the first school in the country to be awarded infrastructure funding, due in large part to its support for numerous non-profit organizations like the St. Michael’s Buzzers, North York Soccer Association and the Toronto Junior Argos.

“Because it is the first school that’s ever received the federal funding, that’s been a real compliment,” said Terry Sheridan, St. Michael’s College principal, and former football player at the school. “It’s great the government is recognizing schools’ involvement in their local communities, and it recognizes St. Mike’s involvement in our local community.”

The money will go to funding upgrades to the arena — increasing accessibility, upgrading the lockers, and front doors — parking rehabilitation and upgrades to the football field — including FIFA-calibre additions to the field turf. Renovations are expected to begin in the spring.

St. Mike’s supports hundreds of young student-athletes, to better prepare for them for the next step, whether it is higher-performance levels of hockey, football, and lacrosse.

“It’s pretty big news,” said Adrian Torok-Orban, a grade 11 student who plays lacrosse and football for St. Mike’s. “Overall, it’s a great community and it’s going to help broaden our ability to help our communities.”

“It’ll be good for the school, and especially for the community,” said Ben French, who plays football and lacrosse. “It’s going to make some people in the school want to participate in more extra-curriculars, right?”