As the Marshall McLuhan Rebels prep for their outdoor track season, eight members of their squad have been selected to represent Ontario at the second annual Nike High School Grand Prix Invitational.
“We got into the Grand Prix for the first time, it’s a humbling experience,” said Eric Boszin, who is a specialist in the 1,500 metres. “I feel really proud, but you got to control yourself, try not to be too cocky and train hard.
“Our motto is ‘Train Hard, Win Easy,’ so we take that seriously.”
Taking place at the Varsity Centre at the University of Toronto and featuring the country’s best squads, the Rebels, all of whom are in grade 10, will be co-representing Ontario with a girls’ track squad from Timmins.
“Starting from nothing, and we’re here now, I would never expect to be in the Grand Prix, the national level,” said sprinter Michael Peters, “We’re trying to win the overall boys title, and if we win that, that’ll put us on the map for sure.”
These Rebels boys are the definition of an underdog. They will be squaring off against grade 11 and 12 kids at the meet. The kids, despite their disbelief, are sporting some confidence going in.
“I never thought we would be able to do it, but our team did win [TDCAA] last year, that was a nice accomplishment,” Boszin said.
Marshall McLuhan is not known for its track program, but with the arrival and effort by their coach, Jane Marum, the program is blooming.
“I love it, and there was no real track program and they let me takeover,” said Marum, who also began coaching a cross-country team that won their first bronze medals in Citys last fall.
Marum has been working to unlock the potential in the young kids, and — by recruiting kids in grades 9 and 10 — instill a sporting culture that would last their high school careers.
“What I try to do is see something in a kid,” she said. “There’s a high jumper, Jeremy [Kama]. Last year, he didn’t know what he wanted to do, and he wasn’t fast enough to be on the relay team. I was looking at him, at his calves and body type, and said ‘Why don’t we try high jump?’
“He’s a little bit shorter than me, and he jumped over his head.”
Kama eventually won his event, and went to OFSAA last year, placing 14th.
“[Being on the team] means a lot,” said Peters, a grade 10 student. “Coming from grade 8, nobody thought you’d be hot, you’d be this.
“Honestly, I wasn’t even trying out for track. Ms. Marum was introduced to me, she was like ‘You know, you have a great body, you should do this and do that.’ We ended up winning a championship with 17 people.”
The team has grown to over 80 people this year, and at their pre-season practice in the halls of Marshall McLuhan the atmosphere was prime for running. Kids were sprinting through corridors, doing plank exercises, and leaping hurdles. The circuit looked exhausting but these kids kept pushing themselves.
With five indoor meets under their belts this winter, the team is ready for the spring season. And their bond is already strong.
“I really love that our team supports each other,” said Lianne Wing-Martings, “If your family can’t make it or whatnot, then you have your family here, who supports you.
“Even they might not know you personally, they’ll still cheer you on.”
The school’s first outdoor meet of the season is on Apr. 12 at St. Michael’s College School.
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