Baseball: The Toronto Blue Jays have made many significant moves in the off-season and pundits are predicting a banner year for the club. The latest hiring is former NL batting champ and 4-time league stolen bases king Tim Raines who will be counseling minor league Jays’ outfielders and base runners throughout the farm system. Raines, who is expected to eventually enter baseball’s Hall of Fame I expected to be a tremendous mentor to Jays’ prospects D.J. Davis and Anthony Alford. Alford who has had some off-field problems could particularly benefit from Raines, who fought his own demons early in his career and won. Some are saying that signing the former Expos star is one of the best moves GM Anthopoules has made.
The Toronto Blue Jays are the recipients of MLB’s Commissioners Award for Philanthropic Excellence. The Jays organization was honored for their work with youth across Canada through several programs, including the formation of Baseball leagues in low-income neighborhoods, refurbishment of baseball fields and various instructional clinics and recreation centres.
NBA: Raptors’ coach Dwane Casey takes mentorship seriously. Expounding the value of the mentoring he himself has received from various coaches, he gives back as much as he can. Currently working under the Toronto Raptors Coach-Mentor program, Casey has been providing the benefit of his experience to Charles Kissi an up-and-coming local coach of the Tri-County Thunder girl’s basketball team, a team comprised of 16-17 year olds. Casey has attended the team’s practice and Kissi has attended several Raptors’ practices and the two stay in touch.
NBA ALL-STAR STARTERS: West: Kobe Bryant for a record 15th time, Kevin Durant, Dwight Howard, Chris Paul and Blake Griffen. East: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Rajon Rondo, Carmelo Anthony and Kevin Garnett who edged out Chris Bosh. Kobe Bryant led all players receiving 1,591,432 votes and broke the record held by Karl Malone, Shaquille O’Neal and Jerry West for most consecutive all-star team starters.
NCAA: Leading up to March Madness – Some Canadian basketball players are being noticed.
First year player Anthony Bennett, 6’8” Forward from Brampton is an explosive player. He attends UNLV and plays for the College’s Runnin’ Rebels. He is averaging 19.2 points per game, shooting 53% from the field and can shoot from the arc (12 3-pointers at this writing), dunk and rebound. He’s being touted as a Freshman of the Year candidate and some say he could be drafted into the NBA this summer.
Second year player Myck Kabongo from Toronto plays for the Texas Longhorns. He started 34 games last season and could have been drafted into the NBA but decided to return to school for another year to improve his chances of a higher pick in the draft. He ran into trouble though. The NCAA said he accepted airfare and personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information to university officials. He went to Cleveland last spring to work out with Brampton native Tristan Thompson (Cleveland Cavs) and a personal trainer. Airfare was $475. (US). He was suspended for 23 games and fined the cost of the airfare. He is due to return with eight games left in the conference schedule on February 13 against Iowa State. Depending on what he shows in the last games he could go in the first round of the NBA draft.
Soccer: Toronto FC chose Mississauga native Emery Welshman 16th (out of 38) overall at the MLS SuperDraft. Welshman, a 21-year old striker, who played at Oregon State, says his selection by TFC is “a dream come true”. He said he’s happy to be able to play on his home turf. TFC also chose Welshman’s former teammate Kyle Bekkar (3rd overall). Midfielder Bekkar an Oakville, Ontario native, played at Boston College and was MVP on the MLS Combine. He and Welshman played together in youth soccer for Mississauga’s Sigma FC.
Track & Field: Canadian Olympian Phylicia George has been awarded the Phil Edwards Memorial Trophy. She shares the award with Jessica Zelinka. George is the daughter of Grenadian parents. Her mother died in 2010 of Breast Cancer. George made her Olympic debut in the London games last year qualifying in the 100m and 100m hurdles. She decided to only concentrate on the hurdles and finished 6th with a personal best of 12.65. She is currently ranked 12th in the world in that event. A serious student, she completed biology and physiology studies at the University of Connecticut and intends to enter Medical school after the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The award was created in 1965 and is given to a Canadian outstanding track athlete.