School-St Mary's CSS Athletics
School-St Mary's CSS First 3 Sports
In 1984, St. Mary’s Secondary School (SMCSS) began. The building located at 760 Burnham St., Cobourg, housed students from Grade 1 – 9. There were 14 Grade 9 students in the first year. It was difficult to run any sport teams for the Grade 9’s.
In 1985, St. Mary’s swim team started. We practiced every week, Monday, Wednesday and Friday at 7 am during the Fall at the local YMCA. We had all levels of swimmers on the team. The only requirement was attendance.
There were students from Campbellford that were interested in joining but had no way of getting to the practices that early. After speaking to the Director of Education, Don Folz, he agreed to provide a bus for the interested students on Mondays and Wednesdays.
The swim team had many successful years and fortunately is still thriving today. We have attended OFSAA every year since the team’s inception.
St. Mary’s Cross-Country team began in 1987. As we didn’t have a track or any running facilities, training consisted of running through the local neighbourhood. We practiced Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday after school. We only had a handful of students interested in competing on the Cross-Country team.
We were always at a disadvantage in terms of competition with other Secondary Schools given our lack of facilities. Our “creative” practices didn’t always glean the results we were hoping for. However, our students never gave up and always worked hard and gave it their all.
There was one student, however, who was a natural long-distance runner. Sarah Johnston worked diligently and qualified at Kawartha to move on to COSSA. The highlight for Sarah was being able to compete at OFSAA in Cambridge, Ontario.
Track and Field Team
St. Mary’s Track and Field team started in 1987. Facing the same disadvantages as the Cross-Country team, we made do with the facilities that we had. We were able to practice the field events, such as javelin, disc, high jump and long jump on our driveway and small outfield. The long-distance running athletes ran through the neighbourhood while the short distance runners, hurdlers and relay teams practiced on the small paved area around the school. Wind sprints up the small hill at the side of the school helped with the cardio portion of the practice. Practices were held 4 nights a week, with all students being welcomed as long as there was a commitment to attend all practices.
We were fortunate to have a sprinter, Tony Raymond, qualify at Kawartha and then win gold medals at COSSA in both the 100 and 200 metre races. Those wins allowed him to compete at OFSAA at York University.
School-St Mary's CSS Athletic Firsts
St. Mary’s CSS Thunder - Firsts during 35 Yr Growth of Athletic Department
1984 St. Mary’s Catholic Secondary School (SMCSS) opens its doors.
1985/86 The first athletes compete for the school in Swimming, Cross-Country and Track & Field. A small handful of students.
1986 The first year of organized sports teams competing in Kawartha Athletics as the St. Mary’s Marauders.
1988 The beginnings of Track, Basketball, Badminton, Soccer, Tennis, Weightlifting and Girls Softball
1989 The beginnings of Wrestling, Weightlifting, J/S Boys Soccer, J/S Girls Basketball, M/J Boys Basketball, M/J Girls Volleyball, M Boys Volleyball, Cross-country, Badminton, Boys Hockey, Girls Softball, Girls Soccer, Tennis, Swimming
1990 Name changed from Marauders to THUNDER
1990 The beginnings of Track, M/S Boys Basketball, M/J Girls Basketball, J/S Badminton, Tennis, Weightlifting, M/J/S Girls Volleyball, M/J Boys Volleyball, Mixed Softball, Swimming, J Girls Soccer, J Boys Soccer
1991 The beginnings of Cross-country, Track, M/J Boys Basketball, M/S Girls Basketball, M/J/S Girls Volleyball, M/J Boys Volleyball, Mixed Softball, Tennis, Badminton, Weight Training, Boys Rugby, J/S Girls Soccer, J/S Boys Soccer, Swimming, Boys Hockey
1991 The first Kawartha Championship. Midget Boys Basketball.
1992 The first sports tour at St. Mary’s. Boys Hockey competed in the Irish Rover Tournament at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana.
The beginnings of J/S Girls Soccer, J/S Boys Soccer, Boys Hockey, Mixed Softball, M/J/S Girls Basketball, M/J Boys Basketball (KAWARTHA CHAMPS), S Boys Volleyball (KAWARTHA CHAMPS), M/J/S Girls Volleyball, Tennis, Badminton, Boys Rugby, Swimming
1995 Girls Rugby begins.
1997 Golf begins.
1999 Girls Hockey begins.
1999 The First COSSA Championships are won. Junior Girls Soccer AND Senior Girls Rugby
2002 The first OFSAA Medal is won. Brian Hamilton wins Silver in the 400m Hurdles in Track & Field.
2004 Boys Football begins.
2007 The First OFSAA Individual Champion – James Nearing wins Tennis Singles.
2010 Ultimate Frisbee begins.
2011 Floorball begins.
2012 The First Repeat OFSAA Individual Champion – Kristina Steins wins the 100m Backstroke. She won the same event in 2010. She also became the first athlete to win multiple OFSAA medals.
2012 St. Mary’s hosts its first OFSAA Championships – Boys A/AA Rugby.
2015 Boys Baseball begins.
2016 The First OFSAA Team Medal – Boys Golf win Bronze.
2018 The First OFSAA Team Champion – Boys Rugby.
2019 The First OFSAA Repeat Team Champion – Boys Rugby.
School-St. Mary’s CSS Early Athletics
The Turning Point of Early Success
I began my teaching/coaching career at St Mary’s Catholic Secondary School (SMCSS) in 1989. It was a small populated school of about 200 students. We were trying to establish publicly funded Catholic education. Prior to that my philosophies were forged in an environment of very competitive and successful athletic endeavors. In spite of the successes the common theme were values driven programs.
So, when I came to SMCSS that is what I attempted to offer. It was not easy in the beginning, where my philosophy was a bit in conflict with the current situation. I demanded a strong commitment to excellence through 'Education through Sport". I perpetuated a motto of, 'No School, No Sports, No Practice, No Play."
This demand was not readily accepted and only a few student/athletes could commit to the dedication that was required. The first sports that I developed using these demands were Basketball and Volleyball. Among the core student athletes that forged the legacy of "It's a Thunder Thing" for the next five years of arduous pursuits in these two core sports were Jason Craig, Eric O'Rourke, Mike Bons, Gary Collins, Bryan Brady, Andrew Ross and Michael Smith.
What became pivotal to our successes was when we were able to convert the small 60 foot by 30 foot gym (volleyball court dimensions) from a cafeteria at lunch to a practice facility. The core athletes practiced every lunch hour the various pursuits for five years. Practices were all closed because I felt that practice was not a spectator sport. Student/athletes need to be in a learning environment free to make mistakes and learn.
Of course, there was some resistance from the administration because of the optics of an elite program. However, with the incorporation of a House System for inter mural sports that was more inclusive, the administration softened and we proceeded.
I also coached a group of female/student athletes for 3 years with the same tenacity demands. They were highly committed and wanted to emulate what the boys were doing. These athletes included Cynthia Jurchison, Amy O’Rourke, Rachel King, Melissa Bonner, Jennifer Burleigh, Denise McDonald and Lola Teelucksingh. I tried to develop programs instead of just having teams.
We were fortunate at SMCSS, because we had a stable of teacher/coaches who committed themselves to kids and spent many hours away from their families to spend time with other people's families. Even during the 'Strike Year' I was able to conduct coaching courses where similar perspectives to inter school sports were formulated.
Our teachers did not want to sanction no coaching and we were prepared to start up our own "Catholic League" so we could continue to participate and compete at an inter school level. Some of the trail blazers who led many fine programs at SMCSS during the early years were, Steve Egan, Stan Muldoon, Donna Conway, Jane Anne Egan, Rick Seggie, Jim Blainey, Ray Heffernan, John McDougall, Mike Desjardins and Mike Killoran.
By Rob Majdell
Former Teacher, Coach, Athletic Director, Principal