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Zabudsky makes headlines in Upper Canada

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Jeff Zabudsky was quite the mover and shaker during his relatively short time as president of Red River College, and now he’s aiming to be an ever more major player in Ontario postsecondary education.

Zabudsky left here on short notice two years ago when he got an offer to take over the massive Sheridan College, scattered across three campuses in the sprawling suburbs west of Toronto. That qualifies Zabudsky as a pretty high player just on its own, though not yet on the scale of someone such as the prez of the University of Toronto.

But he’s aiming high.

The Ontario government has cited the need for three new university campuses, and Zabudsky says he can supply them, by transforming Sheridan’s three existing college campuses into universities.

I saw the story about Zabudsky and Sheridan in this morning’s Academica’s Top Ten roundup, and here’s the Toronto Star story.

And moving right along....

I don’t know how I get on these mailing lists, but I’m declining the offer of a bullet-proof vest at a really good price, though I am impressed that it’s approved by the Israeli version of the Canadian Standards Association.

Back to education...

I had two responses to my recent article on the Mounties recruiting at the U of M job fair for education students, both readers dissatisfied with the lack of detail.

One said I should have furnished information about how prospective or current teachers could apply for these jobs. I replied by suggesting my correspondent call the RCMP headquarters on Portage Avenue and ask for the recruiting office. I’m thinking that I wouldn’t have needed to suggest such an obvious line of investigation to Sergeant Preston and his faithful dog King (ask your grandparents).

The second correspondent said there was a lack of detail in my story about the civilian jobs for which the Mounties think education grads are suitable. Find the websites that describe these jobs in detail, and send me the links, said my correspondent.

I replied that I’m confident that if people have the skills the Mounties are seeking, they could track down the website on their own.

Woof, agreed King.

Sigh.

And another topic....

I suffered a massive brain freeze the other day. Off I went to the legislature to meet the new Tory critics, Cameron Friesen for education and Wayne Ewasko for advanced education. I rarely give any thought to what I toss on in the morning as long as it’s relatively clean, since I’m someone who sets fashion trends instead of following them, and I’m sitting there, and I suddenly realize, oh sugar fudge heck darn, I’d grabbed an orange shirt and brown jacket.

I’d better recomember to wear nothing but blue next time I interview Nancy Allan....

If they’ll let me near Allan, since I might ask her about how in the world she expects trustees not to raise taxes or make job cuts after she ditches the tax incentive grant, or I might ask her for the umpteenth time what’s going on in Thompson and why she isn’t playing a greater role there....

A word of advice if you’re planning a high school career day: if you’re asking someone for a full day of his/her employer’s time, you might take the time to send a personalized email, rather than a mass "To whom it may concern" request.

And another piece of advice....if you have a major school event that you hope we’ll cover in the dead-trees edition, it’s a preferable move to tell us about it ahead of time. How many times do you see us run a report and photo submitted by the school several days after the significant event is over?

Meanwhile....

I was driving to College Louis-Riel the other day for stuff you read about in the dead trees edition, and CBC Radio has a piece about people in their 50s who lie about being seniors, so they’ll get the discount. I’ve never done that, but I’ve certainly been given seniors’ discounts without being asked how old I am, and sometimes they’re not withdrawn even when I say I’m not yet eligible. But I realized it’s been a while, maybe even a year or two, since cashiers and clerks assumed I was a senior without asking, and here I am galloping towards being 64.

Over to soccer.....

How quickly the joy of taking part in kids’ soccer can turn into a sense of dread, how quickly the fun of running around for two or three hours with a bunch of kids having a good time can turn into an ordeal to be survived.

I’ve written here frequently about an obstreperous coach, or cranky player, or one or two difficult parents, but each of those incidents was just one occurrence during one match among the past dozen or so I’d reffed. The last two weekends have been something else entirely.

Of the eight matches I’ve done the past two weekends, probably 13 of the 16 sets of coaches have been off the wall, and in most cases, they’ve set off their parents to act like Lawrence Talbot feeling the fur pop out of his skin under a full moon.

Yes, it’s the start of the playoffs, as though that excuses anything.

I’m not talking here about one play setting someone off in a fit of anger — it’s 60 minutes of rage from the adults on the benches, of several people bellowing on every call or non-call, of adults assigned to be role models to other people’s children hopping up and down in full-throttle hissy fits. As we say on Tyneside, I was afraid they’d do themselves a mischief.

Overhead, the parents are screaming and chirping and going squirrelly in unison.

It wears you down and tires you out in a way that running for two or three hours could never do.

One that really bothered me came in a 15-year-old girls’ game. A defender flattened an attacker, I called the foul and warned the girl about the consequences of any recurrence, and a woman yelled down to the girl that there was nothing wrong with what she’d done, and to continue playing that way.

Ironically, I gave out my first red card of the indoor season to a kid, and nary a peep from his coaches, who were among the three sets of coaches out of the 16 over the last two weekends who comported themselves as you’d hope.

At one point in one match, so many parents were reacting to my calls in a pre-teen match by yelling a rude equivalent of cow poop at the tops of their lungs, that I stopped the match, went to both benches, and told the coaches that I wanted them to go and get their referee liaisons, and instruct the parents to control their behaviour. Yes, just like it outlines in the WYSA rules and regulations. And none of the coaches would.

Other referees have told me I should just toss the coaches out of the match, that I should go over and confront the assembled parental units and threaten to throw them all out of the building or to abandon the match, and I guess I’m not very good at that kind of confrontation. I reckon it’s absolutely a last resort to throw people out, and I can’t imagine how bad it would have to be before I told all the kids that we were ending their game early and sending them all home, because their parents and adult role models couldn’t match the children’s behaviour.

Sigh.

Pretty much all of the grief I get is certainly from coaches and parents — deservedly so, I’m sure they’d say, they’d behave meticulously if only I’d make the right calls — but every once in a while it’s from another official.

You’ve all seen the teenagers working the indoor youth matches. People call them scorekeepers or timekeepers, but they’re officially called a referee’s assistant, and they have the authority and duty to call the lines on their side of the field, call when there are too many players on the field, keep the coaches from wandering to centre, theoretically keep the coaches in line when they start yelling at the ref; they’re part of the crew, just as the assistant referees are in the higher levels of outdoor soccer, running up and down the sidelines with their flags. No, not the parent volunteers who take the flags in summer, we’ll revisit that when outdoor starts.

Anyway, the RA is required to stand right at centre on the sideline, when he or she isn’t seated to enter a goal or penalty on the scoresheet, or enter a goal on the scoreboard. They’re to stand where they can see, and where they can be seen as active and involved in the match.

And sometimes they don’t stand.

So recently I had a match, and the RA looks to be about 14, and she keeps sitting, and I keep giving her a gesture with my hand to stand up, and sometimes she stands and sometimes she ignores me. And even when she gets up, next time I look, she’s sitting down again.

One time, she gets up, but gives me this utterly frustrated dramatic shrug with palms up and both arms fully extended, and rolls her eyes to the sky, a performance for which I would have given a player a yellow card.

Finally, game over, she’s done two matches and a new RA will do my third match. I remind my likes-to-sit RA that she’s required to stand during the matches.

She goes Vesuvius: "OMG, do you know how hard it is to stand for two hours???"

To which I counter, quite unsuccessfully, with, "Do you know how hard it is for someone who’s almost a senior citizen to run for three hours?"

To which she snaps: "Then you should retire!" and stomps off.

Sigh.

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