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Teacher/coaches, talk to me, eh?

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I wrote a story a few weeks ago that attracted considerable attention, about the number of top scholar-athletes who allegedly have used schools of choice to try to stack high school teams for a shot at a provincial championship.

Several teacher/coaches wrote in, along with some parents, naming schools which used such student-athletes; and some accused the receiving schools of having recruited the students.

The names of some schools popped up more than once. I venture that you’d recognize them.

Each time someone said he or she had first-hand information, I asked him or her to talk to me for publication.

And that’s the last I’ve heard from them.

This isn’t the type of information that I can get through a freedom of information request. No one compiles a comprehensive list of schools of choice students, whether for all of them, or for just SOC students who compete in varsity sports. If such a list were compiled, someone could leak it. Alas, it just isn’t done.

To pursue this story further, I need people within the system with first-hand knowledge who are willing to share it, so I can chase, try to verify, talk to the people involved.

Otherwise, you’re just venting.

Moving along...

I had a weird situation late last year... OK, weirder than usual.

It was an event spread over two Winnipeg schools, and the day of the event, I was busy doing other priorities that Big Editor — not his real name — considered more important.

The event involved a huge IT company from another province going to two city schools to make a pitch to students about a career in information technology. Like that’s not ever happened before, and we couldn’t see anything utterly compelling in the information provided to us.

What was unusual were the frequency and intensity of the organizers’ pleas and pressures in trying to get coverage.

Weeks before, the emails and phone calls had started, several people laying the pressure on me several times each, demanding that I provide a guarantee weeks ahead of time that I would be there.

None of us can ever guarantee our presence weeks ahead of time. Sure, election day, we’ll probably cover that; Nancy Allan’s funding announcement, I’d expect to be there.

But guarantee? Not likely. All sorts of other things can come up and often do — if the Martians landed in Transcona that day, would a previous guarantee of going to a school take precedence?

One organizer even got exasperated with me and said that if I did not provide a guarantee of coverage, why should he invite the deputy minister to attend, and why should someone else fly in from Ontario? Glad to hear that one person out there holds me so highly, but that still didn’t bring a guarantee of coverage. I told him that if an event is worth holding, then it’s worth holding, regardless whether the media are there.



A word of fashion advice from a totally non-fashionable source who rarely wears them — if you want to move unobtrusively around a high school gym full of students and visitors who are trying to listen to what people are saying on stage, if you want to come and go freely without causing any distraction or any unwelcome noise, such as while attending the annual meeting of the Canadian Museum for Human Rights in the gym at Sisler, don’t wear high heels.

You’re welcome.

Finally, about soccer, a question possibly best answered by someone doing a postdoctorate in philosophy: why do coaches never go "Aaaaawwwww, ccccuuuuummmm aaaawwwwnnnn ref, let the kids play the game!", when the foul is called on someone on the other team?

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About Nick Martin

Nick Martin is the old bearded guy at the back of the newsroom, the most experienced reporter at the Winnipeg Free Press, having started his career in Ontario in 1971.

He’s been covering education for the Free Press since the spring of 1997, after decades primarily covering municipal politics, including a four-year stint at the Ontario legislature for the London Free Press.

Nick moved to Manitoba in 1988 with his Winnipeg-born wife, who is a professor at the University of Manitoba. They have two kids, both of whom graduated from Grant Park High School: son Chris and daughter Gillian.

Nick has won a national journalism award from the Canadian Association of University Teachers, two Manitoba Human Rights Journalism awards, and the Ontario Reporters Association investigative award.

Nick is a long-distance runner, having finished and survived 18 marathons and 15 half-marathons and 30-kilometre races, and having (barely) survived 10 years as an outdoor and indoor soccer coach.

Nick became a soccer referee in 2007, delighting in his 60s in outrunning 16-year-olds and keeping his distance from obstreperous coaches and parents.

Nick and his wife have discovered a mutual love for kayaking at their Whiteshell cottage, and are both regulars at the Reh-Fit Centre. They hold season tickets to both the Manitoba Theatre Centre and the Warehouse, and as empty nesters, have rediscovered the joys of an active winter vacation.

A native of Jarrow-on-Tyne, England, Nick is a member of the Toon Army as a Newcastle United supporter, and a proud citizen of Leafs Nation.

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