Leo Reyns

Leo Reyns

Few individual athletes in Cobourg’s long sporting history can lay claim to a decade of sustained achievement on the level of Leo Reyns successes on the wrestling mat throughout the 1970’s.

Attending C.D.C.I. East from 1971 to 1975 Leo was an integral part of that school’s championship wrestling team, a group that was Kawartha Team Champions in four of those years. Individually, Leo won the Kawartha Championship in his weight class in 1973,1974 and 1975. He was COSSA Champion in 1973,1974 and 1975, finished as the OFSAA runner-up in 1974 and was named the school’s Most Valuable Wrestler that same year.

In his final year of high school in 1975 he claimed the OFSAA Gold Medal in the 123lb weight class, and was named the C.D.C.I. East Athlete of the Year. The fall of 1975 saw Leo further his studies at the University of Guelph. Over the next four years, Leo would be a part of the Varsity Wrestling team that won the OUAA Championship in 1976 and 1977, and finished in fourth place in the 1977 World Cup Team Championship – Freestyle Division.

Individually, in 1975, Leo won the Canadian Junior Greco-Roman Wrestling Champion, the Canadian Junior Freestyle Wrestling Bronze Medalist, and the Ontario Senior Open Freestyle Champion. In 1976 Leo captured the OUAA Wrestling Individual Championship and served as an alternate on the Canadian team for the 1976 Montreal Summer Olympics. In 1977, Leo placed 4th in the World Cup Individual Freestyle competition, held in Toledo, Ohio, and in 8th place in the World Greco-Roman Championship, held in Gothenburg, Sweden.

After claiming the 142lb OUAA Wrestling Championship as well as the OUAA Wrestling Individual Championship in 1978, Leo capped off his championship career in 1980 when he was named the Outstanding Wrestler at the Ontario Senior Open Championship.



Team or Principal Name

Terry Lewis

Terry Lewis

When he was 8-years-old, Terry Lewis was gaining attention on all-star teams in both Hockey and Baseball earning commendations from no less than Layton Dodge, who proclaimed him “a star in the making”.

In 1966, Terry helped his Novice All-Star hockey team become the OMHA Zone Finalists during the winter and the Eastern Ontario Baseball Association Tyke A champions in the summer. Two years later in 1968, that same group of talented youngsters would claim the 1st ever “Little NHL” B Championship. Attending C.D.C.I. East, Terry would be a part of the Midget COSSA Championship Basketball team in 1970 and the Junior COSSA Championship Football team in 1971.

On the ice, Terry would join the Cobourg Cougars Junior C team for the 1971-72 season. That season, the Cougars were OHA finalists, with Terry finishing third in playoff scoring. The next year, 1972-73, saw the Cougars finish the year as Central and Eastern Ontario Junior C Champions with Terry sharing the laurels of being the top scorer.

The 1973-74 season brought Cobourg its first-ever OHA Championship with Terry as the team’s Captain. Terry was instrumental in the Cougars success, capturing the league’s scoring title and Most Valuable Player Award. In addition, his 162 penalty minutes set a new team record, his 88 points were a new single-season league record, and he would add 71 points in group and provincial playoffs. A versatile player, capable of playing both forward and defense, and often asked to, 1975-76 would be Terry’s final season with the Cougars, a season that saw the team reach the OHA semi-finals.

A couple of years later, Terry returned to the Cougars as the team’s Co-Coach, before taking over as Head Coach in 1979-80, guiding the team to a first-place finish and a spot in the OHA quarter-finals.

On the ball diamond, Terry joined the Cold Springs Cats fastball team in the late 1970’s, and played as a left-handed throwing shortstop when the Cats captured the Ontario Senior A Fastball Championship in 1980. Years later, with his main contribution coming from the pitching mound, Terry helped lead the Cats to three consecutive Canadian Masters Championships in 1997, 1998, and 1999, and was named the top pitcher in the 1997 championship.



Jerry Lawless

Jerry Lawless

Jerry Lawless graduated from the University of Toronto with a Bachelor of Arts degree in 1955 and started teaching in Englehart, Ontario. In 1956, Jerry moved back to Cobourg where he began teaching and coaching at C.D.C.I. West. While teaching, Jerry continued his own education by studying at night and during summers to complete a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education degree at McMaster University in 1962. The following year, Jerry was appointed head of the Department of Physical Education.

In those early years, Jerry coached anywhere from five to nine different teams due to a shortage of coaches. On one occasion, Jerry coached the school's soccer and volleyball teams to championship wins on the same day. As a coach and a teacher, Jerry influenced the lives of countless students, helping to develop both their athletic skills and more importantly, imparting to them valuable life lessons.

Jerry would go on to coach numerous teams (volleyball, basketball, soccer) and individuals (particularly in track and field) to championship wins. Some of the most notable teams were 1967 and 1968 Kawartha and COSSA Boys Volleyball as well as 1975, 1978, and 1979 Kawartha and COSSA Midget Boys Basketball. In recognition, Jerry was a recipient of the Pete Beach Award, a provincial coaching excellence award given to outstanding coaches for their contributions to better their sport and athletes.

Upon his retirement in 1988, C.D.C.I. West presented him with the Coach's Dedication Award and named two athletic awards in his honour: the Jerry Lawless Coaching Award and the Jerry Lawless Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award. In 2005, the gymnasium at C.D.C.I. West was christened the Jerry Lawless Gymnasium.

In a 1967 profile in the Cobourg Daily Star, no less an authority than Layton Dodge wrote that “Many years from now, however, C.D.C.I. West graduates will not remember Jerry Lawless for the number of winners he produced, directed, assisted or just encouraged. They'll remember him for the kind of person that he was. And that, I suggest to you, dear reader, is undoubtedly the finest compliment they could ever hope to pay him.”



Team or Principal Name

School-St Mary's CSS Athletics

St Mary's School jacket

School-St Mary's CSS First 3 Sports

Swim Team
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.   

Cross-Country Team
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


Sport Team or Name This Story is about

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School-St Mary’s CSS Rugby:Boys

Thunder OFSAA Gold

From T-shirts to Champions

High School Rugby was becoming popular in rural Ontario so teachers Rob Majdell and Ray Heffernan thought they would start a rugby program in the spring of 1993. St Mary’s Catholic Secondary School (SMCSS) was still a small school of about 400 students. The expectation was that 20 firm participants would be needed at every practice, at every lunch, to continue with this program.

The other local high schools with their bigger population bases (around 800 students each) had already established rugby programs. For the betterment of rugby they agreed to play St. Mary’s new team in exhibition play for the first 3 years. These teams included Trinity College School, Cobourg East and Cobourg West.

During the first 2 years, players wore only t-shirts as jerseys. In year three, after the team became established, the school ordered and bought keeper jerseys. The fellas thought they were too nice to wear for games, so they decided to keep wearing t-shirts. The team began playing in the Kawartha league in 1996 and as they say, the rest is history.

In 2000, Greg Conway joined the coaching staff.  The team rebranded itself as the Thunder RFC and began to enjoy more success on the pitch – more coaches meant more skill development for the players.  By 2003, the team had its first player selected to Team Ontario – Sandy Sweet.  His skill and attitude started to turn the tide towards a more competitive approach by the players. 

The coaching staff had also added Drew Quemby to the fold.  This was massive as Rob Majdell had moved on to become a Vice-Principal at another school.  The team began showing potential, competing with or even defeating powerhouse teams from Lindsay and Peterborough – teams that only 2 or 3 years prior had been winning by 70 points!

In 2004, the team embarked on the first of many Rugby Tours.  The island of Bermuda was chosen.  The destination, along with amazing experiences like playing against the Bermuda U-18 team on the national pitch, drew even more athletes out to the team.  Touring became a mainstay and was the turning point in prying male athletes away from the mindset of only playing hockey.  The team now prides itself as a touring side, having embarked on 13 ruby tours to places like England, Hawaii, Barbados, Scotland, France, New York City and even the Rugby World Cup in 2015.  The opportunity to go on these tours has attracted many more athletes to try the sport, which has resulted in a very competitive side moving forward.

St. Mary’s has held the Saxon Cup (Northumberland championship) since 2005, after Port Hope won the inaugural competition in 2004.  The Junior Boys are the sole winner of the Junior Saxon Cup, winning it every year it has existed.  The Thunder take the local rivalry very seriously – the only loss by either the Junior or Senior team since 2002 to a local team came in the Saxons Cup final in 2004 to Port Hope.  Keeping the streak alive is taken to heart!

In 2005, the team qualified for its first COSSA Championship after making its first Kawartha Final in team history.  2010 saw the team win its first COSSA medal – a Silver – after toppling powerhouse Centennial from Belleville in the Semis.  They would lose a very tight COSSA final by 2 points and miss out on OFSAA.

In 2011, the Junior Boys won the team’s first Kawartha Championship.  2012 saw the team compete in its first OFSAA Championship – as host school.  Though ranked in the bottom half of the 16-team tournament draw, the team finished 5th overall!  That success was further demonstrated the following year, as the Senior Boys won their first Kawartha title in 2013.

The team had entered a new competitive phase – regularly competing for Kawartha titles and qualifying for COSSA.  They also had athletes not only competing for Ontario, but also being selected to represent Canada.  Brandon McLeod, or “The Missile”, played internationally on the Canada Sevens development team 6 times.  Owain Ruttan represented Canada for their U-18 and U-20 teams a total of 11 times, scoring two tries, including one against Wales!

2016 saw a Junior Team unlike any before at SMCSS.  They captured the Kawartha title and the team’s first COSSA Gold.  That same team won COSSA Gold again at Senior in 2017, 2018 and 2019.  During that run, they produced 4 more Canadian players – Josh Barss, Keagan Read, Adam McNee and Mason Flesch.
In 2018, the Senior Boys team reached new heights 25 years after the first team started play.  They toured Hawaii and defeated the powerful Kahuku – Hawaii state champions.  They returned home and won the Kawartha Championship as well as the COSSA Championship.  All that remained was OFSAA.
They entered as the #1 seed and dominated the tournament leading up to the final.  In a hard fought Gold Medal game, the Thunder prevailed 26-19 to capture its first Provincial Championship.  They outscored all opponents at OFSAA by a margin of 200-24 and finished the season a perfect 16-0.  

The 2019 team was not to be outdone.  That team won Kawartha and COSSA again, and went on the win the OFSAA Championship, becoming only the third school to ever repeat as Champion.  History was made however as St. Mary’s won the 2019 title game 40-0, which is the largest margin of victory in any OFSAA Boys Rugby Championship Final.

It has taken almost 30 years to reach the pinnacle.  They began in t-shirts and running shoes, losing by 70 or 80 points.  They have since seen the world and risen to the top, with back-to-back OFSAA Gold.  The coaching staff has grown as well – additions Tim Linehan, Adam Janssen, Shawn Carmichael have all played a part in the team’s growth and success.  As a coaching staff, we are excited to see where the team can go next!!!

Greg Conway - Head Coach, Thunder RFC

Updated August 2020

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School-CDCI West: Jerry Lawless

jerry Lawless

Gerald Alphonsus “Jerry” Lawless
Physical Education Teacher and Coach
CDCI West Viking Coaching Legend

Gerald Alphonsus “Jerry” Lawless was born on October 18, 1931 in Grafton, Ontario. He was one of nine children of Thomas Alphonsus “Phons” Lawless and Mary ”Eva” (Kernaghan). Jerry passed away in his 83rd year on November 5, 2013.

Jerry grew up doing chores on the family farm and volunteering at church. As a young adult he worked on the railway, picked tobacco, and pruned Christmas trees to pay for his university courses. As an adult he continued to go home and help cut grass and trim hedges on the family farm. He attended St. Mary’s Elementary School in Grafton and then went to high school at Cobourg Collegiate Institute (CCI).

Jerry went to St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto where he graduated in 1955 with a Bachelor of Arts degree. He completed the Ontario College of Education course in the summer and began his high school teaching career in Englehart, Ontario, in September of 1955. Jerry married Audrey (O’Shea) from Hastings, Ontario, on December 26, 1955.

In 1956, Jerry and Audrey moved to Cobourg, Ontario, where Jerry accepted a job teaching English and Mathematics at CDCI West. Jerry continued his University education taking night courses and summer courses. In 1962, he graduated from McMaster University in Hamilton with a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education. In 1963, Jerry was appointed head of the Physical Education Department at CDCI West. Jerry taught and coached for 33 years, before retiring in 1988.

In his early years of teaching, Jerry coached 5 to 9 teams because there weren’t enough coaches. During his years at CDCI West Jerry focused on not only the development of his student athletes' athletic skills, but also their life skills. He attended coaching clinics over the years to improve his knowledge as a coach. Jerry coached numerous teams to championship wins. Some of these included:

1967 - Kawartha and COSSA Boys Volleyball
1968 - Kawartha and COSSA Boys Volleyball
1975 - Kawartha and COSSA Midget Boys Basketball
1978 - Kawartha and COSSA Midget Boys Basketball
1979 - Kawartha and COSSA Midget Boys Basketball

There was also a soccer championship in that mix. Many of his track and field athletes won championships over the years. On one occasion, Jerry coached soccer and volleyball teams to championship wins on the same day.

Jerry was recognized with many awards. He was presented with the Pete Beach Award, an Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) Coaching Excellence Award, presented to outstanding coaches for their contributions to better their sport and athletes in Ontario. This award was designed to recognize the contribution of a coach over a period of several years.

In 1988, he was presented with the Coach’s Dedication Award which recognized his coaching contributions from 1956-1988 for his continuous effort and support of athletics at “the West”. Jerry had two Athletic Banquet Awards named after him - The Jerry Lawless Coaching Award and the Jerry Lawless Senior Male Athlete of the Year Award. Jerry Lawless was the ultimate West Viking.

The CDCI West Gymnasium was named “The Jerry Lawless Gymnasium” in his honour. When CDCI West closed, Jerry was chosen to share the Cobourg Collegiate Institute gymnasium name with Del Dillon - “The Dillon Lawless Gymnasium”.

Outside of school life, Jerry was an active volunteer within his community. He was a volunteer coach for girls softball and he helped Rick McManus coach the Rouw Construction Girls “Y” Peewee Ball team to a league championship in 1970. This was the first Donegan Park team in the league’s eight year history to capture a championship.

Jerry volunteered with the track and field events at the Cobourg Highland Games in Donegan Park and at St. Michael’s Church in various roles as a reader, an usher, and as an Instructor for Marriage Preparation courses. He and Audrey helped with the Meals on Wheels program. They were cherished volunteers with Cobourg and District Community Living, where they delivered meals and drove the sick and elderly.

Jerry’s personal hobbies and sports activities included hockey, golf, curling, skiing, tobogganing, gymnastics, lawn bowling, square dancing, bridge and gardening. As a young man he had to hitchhike to play hockey and played many games with frozen toes. He was a competitive athlete but concentrated more on coaching students, his daughters and his grandchildren.

Jerry was a dedicated family man. He taught his three daughters many school sports and other skills including swimming, fishing, skating, softball, trampoline, tobogganing, hiking, skiing and camping. Jerry spent countless nights flooding a large ice rink in the backyard for his daughters. He was rewarded for this hard work by watching his daughter Ginny play hockey for Queen’s University. Her team won a gold and two silver medals.

Jerry was a humble man who did not seek the limelight. His brother and sister helped to pay for his university. He was one of two children out of his family of nine that went to University. He learned at a young age to pay it forward and to do random acts of kindness, with nothing asked in return.

Jerry always shared whatever he had with others. He quietly helped students out by purchasing meals, athletic shoes, sports gear, tickets to sporting events, or by driving them home after a late game. Jerry’s former students continued to visit him when they were home for Christmas or summer breaks. Students mailed him pictures of their children playing sports. Some of his former students have shared that they continue to follow many of his life lessons.

Jerry had many quotes that he will be remembered for:
The KISS rule - “Keep It Simple Simon” - no one is stupid around here.
“You aren’t the first to do it and you won’t be the last” - if someone made a mistake.
“If you’re not nervous, you’re not ready”.

“White socks or no socks”.

Once Jerry retired, he filled his hours with sports, woodworking, gardening, bridge club and travelling with his wife Audrey. Jerry built a table and picture frames using wood from the floor of the small gymnasium at CDCI West. Jerry and Audrey spent many hours caring for their four grandchildren and supporting them in their activities. In retirement, Jerry continued to teach and coach his grandchildren for 27 years.

Jerry passed on his knowledge through his values by teaching leadership, life skills, perseverance, integrity, patience, honesty, kindness, and respect for others. The “torch” has been passed on to his daughters, grandchildren, great grandchildren and many students who continue to “pay forward” his legacy.

Some comments from the Gym naming and from Cobourg Yesteryears Facebook posts include:
 “He always went out of his way for those who struggled or did not fit in”.
“He was a man who defined West Athletics”.

“As I step onto the track, and settle into the starting blocks, Mr. Lawless is still with me”.
“Jerry Lawless had his own quiet way of motivating athletes to at first try, and often succeed.”
“If I can influence just one person the way Mr. Lawless influenced hundreds I would be proud”.

“Jerry Lawless touched so many people in his time at the West Collegiate, trust me, they all remember him for his time and dedication he gave everybody”.
“Mr. Lawless personified “spirit” at The West. Whether you were one of his students, a member of one of the countless teams he coached, or just another face in a school of hundreds of kids, he made an effort to get to know everyone. Pretty sure he loved his job, and we all benefited”.

“He gave of himself not just at school but at church and everyday life. I never knew him to ever put anyone down but he always tried to show them their self-worth.”
“Mr. Lawless instilled in us to always give 110%. I will never forget him. I always to this day try to give 110% in whatever I do”.

Jerry said, “You are rewarded so many times over by teaching children”.

Gerald Alphonsus "Jerry" Lawless   
Forever will his praise be sung by his students both old and young!
 Rah Rah Rah!
(Quote taken from the West school song – slightly modified).

A Special Teacher
by Layton Dodge
June 14. 1967  Cobourg Sentinel-Star

THE END OF ANOTHER SCHOOL TERM IS a rather appropriate time, I think, to pen a few kind words about a unique teacher who ranks in my book as the undisputed leader in the physical fitness field in Cobourg.

High school students of the last ten years readily will agree that the man who deserves that billing is Jerry Lawless, head of the PE department at the West Collegiate.

There is no teacher I know who is more admired and respected in our town than the same Mr. Lawless. Boys and girls alike have only good things to say about this man. In fact, in all my dealings with secondary school people, I've never heard any student utter a harsh word about him. That's a remarkable endorsement for a teacher whose job it is to instruct and discipline sometimes temperamental, often critical teenagers.

Jerry Lawless is one of a kind, in my estimation, because of the unparalleled rapport he has established with the students while still maintaining control. There are no know-it-all airs about him. He talks their language, so to speak. He sometimes needles. He often prods. He treats students as young adults rather than as puppets.

Like an older brother; he punishes when it is deserved and praises when it is their just due. In return, the boys, most of whom an looking for direction and respond to it when it is properly channeled, do for him what they wouldn't normally do for somebody else.

Ask almost any CDCI West boy which teacher he finds the friendliest, which one he can tell his troubles to and which one he knows best and chances are the overwhelming majority will single out Mr. Lawless. The collegiate gym is the hallowed grounds of basketball, wrestling, volleyball and gymnastic school teams, inter-form teams and inter-class teams. It is the arena of emotions, the informal classroom of the school.

The campus is a training ground for track, soccer, lacrosse and football. In these domains, you generally find Jerry Lawless - spurring a boy to a more concerted effort, passing along a pointer, demonstrating proper technique, organizing a game, running a practice or assisting another teacher in instructing. He freely gives up countless off, duty hours to pursue these tasks.

Teenage boys listen and pay heed to Jerry Lawless because he knows what he's talking about. He is familiar with the basics of every high school sport and extremely knowledgeable in the finer points of many. What's more, he's not a "do-what-l-say-and-not-as-I do" instructor. Usually, he can demonstrate the correct procedure himself. Moreover, Jerry is ever conscious of the athletic capabilities of his students, their whims and their idiosyncrasies.

I know him to be an excellent analyst, too, able to pick out the flaws in a performance quickly and accurately. Significantly, he judges excellence by performance, spirit and the will to achieve, not by victory alone. Enthusiasm and desire distinguish the great teacher from the ordinary one. Jerry Lawless is abundantly endowed.

He obviously wants to work with boys and doesn't mind spending extra time to do it. For instance, he's one of three coaches taking 47 athletes from the COSSA area on a 5-day expedition to New Brunswick for a schoolboy track meet in St. John on July 1.

Despite  the lack of certain facilities (such as a track and a football field), with which other area high schools are blessed, and the obvious disadvantage of a comparatively small male student population, CDCI West boys have more than held their own in athletic circles in recent years, outdoing their more numerous, more favored East Collegiate counterparts in this regard.

From this observation post, Jerry Lawless deserves a good deal of the credit for this phenomenon. Many years from now, however, CDCI West graduates will not remember Jerry Lawless for the number of winners he produced, directed, assisted or just encouraged. They'll remember him for the kind of person that he was.

And that, I suggest to you, dear reader, is undoubtedly the finest compliment they could ever hope to pay him.

Updated August 2020


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School-CCI 2014-2020

Cobourg C.I.

Emerging in 2014 as the newly amalgamated public high school in Cobourg, Cobourg Collegiate Institute (CCI) has brought together the rich athletic histories of the former Cobourg District Collegiate Institute East and Cobourg District Collegiate Institute West schools.  Moving from medium sized “AA” schools (between 500-900 students) to a larger AAA school (1150 students in 2020), C.C.I. offers its students an extensive selection of sports teams, with the continued pride and success that was enjoyed by the former East and West schools.  

Since its inaugural year in September of 2014, C.C.I. sports teams have won many Kawartha (local) and COSSA (regional) championships.  This has led to many trips to the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Association (OFSAA) provincial championships with its sports teams, including Girls Hockey, Boys Hockey, Boys Volleyball, Girls Volleyball, Boys Soccer, Girls Soccer, Wrestling, Cross Country, Badminton, Tennis, Track and Field, and Swimming.  

A trip to CCI’s Dillon-Lawless Gym (named after renowned local high school physical education teachers Del Dillon and Jerry Lawless) will also allow you to see the growing number of team and individual OFSAA honours, including medal performances for finishing in the top 4 in the province.  

As of the winter of 2020, OFSAA Honours include the Girls Hockey team with a 4th place finish, and the following individuals: Wrestlers-Amara Hill (4th place), and Jayden Sparks (3rd place), Track Athletes- Cameron Bruce (4th place, 300m Hurdles) and Kate Current (2nd place, 800m), and Swimmers- Lauren Burleigh (2x 1st place 50m Para Backstroke, and 1st place 100m Para backstroke), and Carlie Bilodeau (1st place, JR 50m Backstroke).  Some of these athletes, and many others have enjoyed success at the college and university sports level following their years of competing for Cobourg Collegiate Institute.

In addition to an impressive C.C.I. OFSAA presence to date, they also consistently have demonstrated exceptional character through sport. Two teams were awarded with the OFSAA Sportsmanship Award during their OFSAA debuts – the varsity girls’ hockey team in 2016, in Stratford, and the senior boys’ soccer team in 2018, in Thunder Bay.

Beyond the successes of sports teams to date, dedicated coaches have planned a variety of trips to enrich the students’ experiences, and to provide lasting memories.  One of the highlighted trips include rugby teams taking part in tournaments in New York City and New Brunswick (Rothesay Netherwood Private School in Rothesay, NB).  As well, basketball teams have annually made trips to prestigious American Colleges and Universities to play games, tour the facilities and watch high-level teams train and compete.  Recent trips have been to Pennsylvania, Indiana, Michigan, Washington D.C., Virginia, West Virginia and New Hampshire.

Building on the excellent athletic facilities on the C.D.C.I. East school site, one major facility upgrade enjoyed by C.C.I. students was the installation of a 6-lane rubberized track.  This has attracted athletes and visitors, including the likes of Canadian Olympic medalist Andre De Grasse, for a training session before his trip to the 2016 Rio de Janeiro Olympics.  Highlights on our track to date include running our school’s annual Relay for Life event, and a Board-Wide “Inclusive Track and Field Day”.  

The Inclusive track and field day is open to all Learning and Life Skills high school students around the Kawartha Pine Ridge District School Board, and includes running, wheel-chair and field events, along with a barbeque lunch.  We are also happy to be able to accommodate local and regional elementary schools, housing our future C.C.I. athletes, who need a venue to run their annual track and field meets.

C.C.I has also been a support to many community members and visiting schools looking to access our gym facilities.  This has included a close relationship with the Lakeshore Minor Basketball Association, who has been a partner in helping us to invest in new glass backboards, adjustable nets and a padded score table.  The local Badminton Club, along with the Northumberland Sports Council, used our gym for the Ontario 55+ Winter Games in 2017, which was a unique opportunity to open our school to athletes from all age groups.  Our gyms are rented most nights, and weekends, throughout the year to service local sports clubs for training and competition, including volleyball, badminton, basketball, soccer, rugby, softball, baseball, lacrosse, rowing and more.

As Cobourg Collegiate Institute continues to grow its history, they are proud to be an important and vital part of the Cobourg community.

Updated August 2020


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