Tuesday, November 17, 2009

The Perfect Season

The story begins in September of 2005. It was my first week of freshman year at Wilfrid Laurier University. Instead of calling it ‘frosh week’ like every school in North America Laurier which will henceforth be referred to as WLU calls the first week ‘O-week’ which stands for orientation week.

During O-week “icebreakers” or older students acts as camp counselors and basically usher new students around campus for various planned activities. The whole thing is pretty lame especially since you aren’t allowed to drink and are forced to wake up every morning at 7:30am. Bullshit I know.

Anyways the best part about O-week was that we got to go to the WLU football game on Saturday night. Now Canadian University football is NOTHING like the NCAA but it is the closest thing we have so it does the job. I was a huge college football fan and loved watching the games and seeing all the fans going crazy during the games so I knew that once I got to WLU I would go to every game and follow the team religiously.

So we get to the game and the stands are filled with 10,000 people going crazy (yes I realize this isn’t a massive stadium but it’s all we have). Laurier went on to win, I forget who they beat because to be honest I was pretty loaded, and from then on I was hooked.

Games would happen every Saturday afternoon and the guys on my floor would all wake up early to go get breakfast at the dining hall (probably the thing I miss most about freshman year is the amazing food that was basically free with your meal plan card. Big plate of bacon, eggs, French toast, fruit and 2 containers of milk all free with the swipe of a card…glorious). After devouring a massive breakfast we would usually start pounding the beers. Since we were all underage this would usually occur behind the closed door of someone’s room, no homo.

This became our regular routine. Breakfast, beer, football. Life was sweet. Unfortunately the CIS season is really short and we only had 5 home games. Even though the season was short it was still great because Laurier didn’t lose a game all season. They easily made the playoffs and got homefield advantage for the Yates Cup which is the quarterfinals for the national championship otherwise known as the Vanier Cup.

Our opponent for the Yates Cup was dreaded rival the University of Western Ontario. Or those of you that have never heard of Western it is basically a school for douchebags, sluts and the guy who played Goldberg in the Mighty Ducks. Needless to say there was no one we would rather have played.

I remember that game like it was yesterday. Only a few weeks earlier I had bought a flask so I could bring booze into the stadium. It was the first time I had ever drunk out of a flask but it would not be the last. Before the game we had a pretty big predrink in our lounge on our floor and we had broken out the Willison Widower (our residence was named Willison Hall and the guys on the 1st floor made this amazing funnel with black tubing and the picture of a grim reaper on the funnel. It got confiscated at some point but we stole it back before the end of the year.)

So we walk over to the stadium with all our Laurier gear on feeling just great about life. I will never forget that one of the guys on my floor Robbie had this yellow dress on. He had gotten it somewhere during O-week and always broke it out for the big occasions. Anyways we get to the game and it is packed. People everywhere are dressed in purple and gold (WLU colors) and are just going mental.

Robbie in the dress

Side story: I have been to some awful bathrooms in my life but the ones at University stadium are brutal, especially when the place gets busy. Girls will go into the guys bathroom and use the stalls while guys jump up and try and look over the stalls. It is just a mosh of people trying to get to one of the 8 urinals and people will often resort to pissing on the floor or in the sinks. You truly must witness it to believe.

The game gets underway and Laurier dominates from start to finish. The whole time it was pretty much inevitable that we were going to win. So while the game is happening we all start talking about rushing the field once we win. I had never rushed a field or court before but I had seen it on TV and it looked badass (totally is the best thing ever. If you ever get the chance to rush a field do it.)

Right before the time is about to run out the whistle is blown with about 2 seconds left. All of a sudden the barriers from the far endzone fall over and a bunch of drunk idiots rush the field early, led by my don Pete (RA in the states or at other schools). I wasn’t sure it was him until my buddy Skinner said, “hey look at the guy with the stupid hair it looks like Pete.” Sure enough it was him. So the game had to be stopped while the fans were told to get back behind the barrier and the barrier was replaced. 2 seconds later the game ends and everyone rushes the field.

My don Pete

For those of you who don’t know me I am not a small man. I am not quick and I am not agile but I swear I moved like a cheetah down the steps and in one fluid motion I was over the railing and onto the field (I had bought this plastic horn before the game started and when I hopped the railing it was in my hand and I landed on it shattering it into a bunch of pieces. I got it signed by a few guys on the team and I still have it though).

The best part about being on the field was that we were right beside the players and the coaches and the actual Yates Cup. I myself touched the cup briefly when fellow Pickering native, and now CFL player, Yannick Carter was holding it. My favorite part of the whole thing however was the announcer saying over the loudspeakers, “do not rush the field. Stay off the field!” Meanwhile the Dean of Students David McMurray aka Daddy Mac was being hoisted into the air on the shoulders of students as he was giving people high fives and cheering like a 12 year old at a Jonas Brothers concert.

On the field after Yates Cup

Now Laurier was 1 game away from playing for the Vanier Cup. Unfortunately for me that one game was to take place in Halifax against Acadia. So instead of going to the game I was forced to watch it on TV which failed in comparison to the alcohol induced magic that was the Yates Cup. It turned out to be ok though as it allowed me to watch the game with everyone on my floor in the lounge which was sweet. Laurier went on to win the game and earn a spot in the Vanier Cup against the University of Saskatchewan Huskies which was to be played at Ivor Wyne Stadium in Hamilton.

We got our tickets right away and started planning for that weekend. One of the guys on our floor, Hamilton, lived in Ancaster which is about a 15-20 minute drive from Ivor Wyne so we figured we would crash at his place the night before and then go to the game the next day.

So December 4th 2005 we went to Hamilton’s place in Ancaster. I remember we went out to the Mandarin for dinner that night (if you have never heard of the Mandarin I weep for your soul. It is the greatest Chinese food buffet on the planet). After dinner we went back to Hamilton’s place and proceeded to drink beers in his basement while playing Headbands Jr. which would go on to become a staple in any drinking night on our floor. Now this may not sound exciting to some but we were 18, with no car and little to no money so it’s not as if we were gonna head out to the bar and do some coke with some strippers.

Now Hamilton’s house is an absolute castle. The place has I think 5 bedrooms, over 2800 square feet and is decorated like a show home but the basement, not so much. They hadn’t renovated yet so the floor was concrete and the furniture was all older and really uncomfortable. Plus there was Tutt, Jordy, Hudder, Caveman and myself all trying to share 2 couches and a chair so it was a rough night. I ended up sleeping in a sort of L position with my legs bent away from my body. It didn’t help when Caveman broke the couch he and Jordy were sleeping on which as funny as it sounds doesn’t come close to cracking the Top 10 funniest Caveman stories.

Next morning we all wake up and get ready for the big game. I shit, shower, eat, load up my flask with some Canadian Club and put on all my Laurier gear. Then another guy from out floor Mike D who also lived in Ancaster shows up to drive us to the game. Although he is a 5’9 white Irishman Mike D drives like Will Smith on Fresh Prince.

Mike D

So we get to the game after looking for a spot for 15 minutes. We finally decided to park in some grocery store parking lot about 15 blocks away. I make it through the security check with my flask still on my person and a beer inside my coat.

Maybe I am just saying this because my team was involved but I would still argue that this was the most exciting football game I have ever seen or watched. It was back and forth the whole game and all came down to the 4th quarter. The Huskies were leading Laurier 23-15 with 2:53 left in the game. At this point my flask is long empty and although I have a huge jacket on I am absolutely freezing. Luckily a kind person sitting beside me offered me some of their flask which contained some scotch that warmed me right up.

So 2:53 left in the game and down by 8. Laurier has the ball and end up scoring a 6 yard touchdown on a pass from quarterback Ryan Pyear to wide receiver Brian Hickey. Now the lead is only 23-21. Laurier decided to go for 2 to tie the game up. Pyear found running back Nick Cameron wide open in the back of the end zone but he dropped the ball. This was the ultimate gut shot moment as I felt like it was all over. People were going crazy. How could he drop that pass? I mean there wasn’t anyone within 10 yards of him and it hit him right in the chest and he dropped it. Still a Top 10 worst feeling of all-time in my life.

Side story: I may have been a huge WLU football fan but Hamilton was 10x the fan I was. He was so hardcore about it he knew everything about everyone on the team and when he saw them on campus he got pretty excited about it. This was common, “yo dude look its Ryan Pyear eating a pita” or “man check out Nick Cameron studying in the library.” It made me laugh every time.

Luckily Laurier managed to get the ball back and still had time to score. Pyear hit wide receiver Dante Luciani on a 17 yard 3rd down conversion to set up a 32 yard field goal for clutch kicker Brian Devlin (seriously this guy was the Adam Vinatieri of the CIS). So with 19 seconds left in the game Devlin stepped up to make his kick. The whole stadium was DEAD quiet. I mean there wasn’t a sound. All the players on the sidelines were holding hands and watching anxiously. Of course Devlin connected on the 32 yard attempt and Laurier won its 2nd Vanier Cup in school history capping off a perfect 12-0 season.

Laurier players awaiting Devlin's kick

The rushing of the field at the Yates Cup was nothing compared to the rushing of the field at Vanier. There were at least 1,000 people on the field all going crazy after the win. I remember them saying not to rush the field over the loudspeakers and seeing cops all around the field. Didn’t matter. I juked this old cop (thank god he was like 75) like I was Barry Sanders and was right at midfield for the celebration.

By far the greatest sporting event I have ever been to and the greatest sports season I have ever watched or been a part of. A lot of great memories from the whole season and a national championship as well. What made the game so amazing was the atmosphere. People were cold, drunk but excited and when Devlin hit that field goal at the end it just all came together. I had gone 1 full academic year without seeing my football team lose a game.

In the following 3 years they never got back to the Vanier game but at least I got to see them win it that 1 time. I will never forget that season and I will definitely never forget that game. Instant classic. #1 sporting event in my lifetime and a Top 10 day in my life for sure.

Side note: I realize I just wrote 2300 words about a school 50% of the people that read this have never heard about and mention people 90% of the people who read this don’t know exist but I hope you enjoyed it anyways.

Random YouTube Video


draper004 said...

Queen's is going to get owned by laval this weekend which is heartbreaking. But yeeeeaaah Yates cup champs! Take THAT Western!

Wych said...

John Denver is full of shit

Brandon said...

best blog yet James. Remember putting all the crap in randys drink at Mandarin?

James Choleras said...

of course. Putting all the soya sauce into it. and stuffing his chicken balls with wasabi