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Lynx outreach program makes headline in Star...

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Wow, the whole story is about them. And it made the Star. Well they never actually cover the games. And on television there's Paul Anka singing 'Jump' like any big band song. Now if the Lynx can win today...

Toronto Star

May 31, 2005. 01:00 AM

Get fit, Lynx player's message to schoolchildren

Munthali boosts good health, soccer

Program also introduces kids to team



Toronto Lynx player Rumba Munthali clearly remembers the look of embarrassment and frustration on the face of the young boy who wasn't physically able to execute some basic soccer manoeuvres.

Munthali recently went to a local school and spoke to a group of Grade 5 students about healthy living. Part of his presentation included showing them some simple drills with a ball, like dribbling and passing.

He was "surprised" to see how much difficulty the youngster, who was clearly out of shape and overweight, was having compared with his young classmates, but it's what he believes is part of a disturbing trend.

"His face was red, he was breathing heavily and sweating. I was a little surprised, but you see kids more and more now who are out of shape," said Munthali who, aside from being a back with the Lynx, is also a personal trainer.

The young boy later pulled Munthali aside and asked him what he could do to improve himself.

"I told him to go out, try to do about 15 to 20 minutes a day of some kind of physical activity, maybe a bit of running. I told him to eat the proper foods and avoid things like chips, hamburgers and pop and try to limit your fat intake," Munthali said.

He said he thinks the message sank in because the young boy was quite attentive and seemed motivated to change. And that's part of the goal behind the Toronto Lynx's school program, which also has an anti-bullying component and one on anti-smoking.


`It's different when the message is coming from a player rather than a teacher.'

Lynx player Rumba Munthali on outreach programs with children at schools


The three programs are part of the club's community outreach initiative, in which Lynx players go out to schools trying to steer students toward making good choices — while also telling them about the benefits of playing soccer.

The program culminates in today's "School Day" game at Centennial Stadium in Etobicoke at 11 a.m. where about 4,000 youngsters from the schools involved get to take in a Lynx game — in this case a match between the 0-5-3 Lynx and the 1-4-1 Rochester Raging Rhinos. There will be a special halftime soccer skills contest for the students and they'll also have an opportunity to grab autographs from some of the players.

Munthali, a former All-America and graduate of the University of Alabama-Birmingham, is in his second year with the Lynx. He's noticed most of the youngsters he's spoken to know his team, but many haven't been to a Lynx game.

Which is another net benefit of the program for the Lynx, considering the club, now in its ninth season, averages about 2,000 to 3,000 per game.

Nicole Hartrell, who runs the team with her husband Bruno, said as a former teacher hoping to spread interest in the sport and her team, she realized the potential that schools offer.

"I knew that we had to go to the grassroots of soccer. It made sense to me to start with the schools because that was the system I knew well from my teaching days," she said.

Hartrell started the school program in 1998, putting together a teaching kit for soccer in both official languages. The anti-smoking component partners with the Lung Association, while the anti-bullying segment partners with the Canadian Safe Schools Network.

Munthali believes the program strikes a chord with students because athletes are the ones doing the talking. "It's different when the message is coming from a player rather than a teacher," he said.

"They tend to listen a little bit more."

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Wow 1st time in at least four years that the Toronto Star actually writes ABOUT A GAME. (if mentioned at all it would be about financial problems usually one story a year)...


Jun. 1, 2005. 01:00 AM

Raging Rhinos gore listless Lynx

Team sits in last place in the USL Toronto's coach

promises changes



The stands at Centennial Park Stadium were packed with cheering young fans but that wasn't near enough to inspire the Toronto Lynx in their United Soccer League match against the Rochester Raging Rhinos yesterday.

After the Lynx trailed 5-1 at the half, coach Hubert Busby Jr. read the riot act to his players in the locker room.

The Lynx scored twice in the second half to make the final score a respectable 5-3 but the loss dropped the team to 0-6-3 — dead last in the standing.

A livid Busby said some of his players "should have stayed at home in bed.''

Needless to say, the Lynx defence was atrocious in the first 45 minutes.

"We've been having some defensive frailties all season,'' understated Busby. "We've looked to rectify it. But now it just comes down to us having to deal with personnel.''

Busby added that he will be making changes as early as Friday when the Lynx travel to Montreal to meet the Impact.

"We're definitely looking at getting some new defenders in and look to get some midfield players to solidify some of things that are breaking down.''The Lynx coach was especially steamed because yesterday was the club's School Day promotion, where about 4,000 students were bused in to the game.

The day featured cheerleaders, a skills competition and a generally noisy crowd that was larger than the 2,000 or so the Lynx usually draw.

The club operates a school program in which team members speak to elementary school students about bullying, healthy living and the perils of smoking. The youngsters also get soccer tips and are encouraged to play the sport.

But yesterday it was the Lynx who were in need of the soccer tips.

Kirk Wilson led the Rhinos with a career-high three goals and was named player of the game.

Rochester's second goal came from midfielder John Ball, who lobbed the ball over goalkeeper Theo Zagar, who was replaced in the 28th minute.

Wilson scored the third with a beautiful header off a pass from defender Jason Perry. Frankie Sanfillippo then added the fourth goal.

Jamie Dodds finally got the Lynx on the scoreboard with a goal in the 41st minute.

Wilson said he was a bit surprised at how easy it was to penetrate the Lynx defence.

"Their marking was a little bit loose and that helped us,'' said Wilson, whose team improved to 2-4-1.

After their halftime scolding, the Lynx did come back with more vim and vigour, outshooting Rochester 7-0.

Sean Fraser and Urbain Some got the second and third goals for the Lynx.

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Only problems with this story is the reporter falls for the attendance fed to him. I say the last Lynx game (not the school day game) and the Lady Lynx game had the same attendance.

Also the Hartrell's got baited into answering questions about how much money they're losing.

Otherwise three stories in one week by this Donavan Vincent guy.


Jun. 4, 2005. 01:00 AM

Lady Lynx struggling off field, but not on

Remain unbeaten after three games

Financial woes still plague club



Like a sprouting flower, the Toronto Lady Lynx soccer team is showing early signs of promise.

Born from the ashes of the defunct Toronto Inferno, the club has carved out an impressive 3-0 record in this, its inaugural season.

That's a far cry from the woeful play of its franchise siblings — the Toronto Lynx, the men's pro team that was 0-6-3 going into last night's game against the Impact in Montreal.

"It's been a group effort," says Lady Lynx coach Brett Mosen.

"There's a great mood on the club and I'm impressed with everyone's work ethic."

The team's success on the field has provided the Lynx organization with a ray of light amid an otherwise gloomy financial picture.

Like the men's side, the women have been dogged by problems like tepid attendance, weak sponsorship and poor revenue streams.

The young team — the average age is 21 — sits atop the Northern Division in the Eastern Conference of the United Soccer League's W-League, an amateur circuit comprised largely of players enrolled from American universities and colleges.

Following the collapse in 2003 of the Women's United Soccer Association (WUSA), the USL's 34-team W-League is considered the top competition in North America.

The Lady Lynx roster includes several of Ontario's top players, some of them former members of Canada's national squad. Seven were on the under-19 national team that recently returned from an international tournament in Houston.

The Lynx next play tomorrow at Etobicoke's Centennial Park Stadium against the Vermont Lady Voltage, a side they've already beaten this year.

After that, Mosen expects the schedule to get tougher as the Lynx battle teams like Ottawa for the first time.

"We've yet to meet the big boys .... uh, I mean big girls," he added.

But what has him especially pleased is that his team has only allowed one goal, which came in its first match. Goalkeeper Stacey Van Boxmeer has provided security and stability with back-to-back shutouts, and forward Kimberly Warner, with her lightning speed and spirited play, has carried the attack.One of the main players on the team is 18-year-old Amanda Cicchini, a 5-foot-2, Grade 12 student at Oakville's Holy Trinity Secondary.

Cicchini, who enjoys hip-hop music and just hanging out with friends, loves the competition.

"I work really hard. I just hate losing," she said.

Some might call her naïve and unrealistic when she insists that interest in her team and women's soccer in the GTA is burgeoning.

"It's getting more and more popular," she enthused.

The numbers don't necessarily lend support for her optimism.

After drawing about 3,000 for their home opener, the women have averaged closer to 1,500 fans for subsequent matches. The men attract between 2,000 to 3,000 per match.

Sponsorship is minimal because the corporate community is just not getting behind either team, said a frustrated Nicole Hartrell who, with husband Bruno, are the chief financial and chief operating officers of the Lynx organization.

They created the Lady Lynx from the old Toronto Inferno club — a W-League outfit that played in Scarborough — obtaining and renaming the franchise and giving it a new home. The men's team, a USL First Division side, is in its ninth season.

There also are seven youth league teams under the Lynx umbrella.

With Pizza Pizza and Tim Hortons as their top sponsors, the Lynx have nearly a dozen "high-end" backers (who pour in between $5,000 to $40,000 a season) and 30 or 40 lower-end supporters (good for between $500 to $1,000 a season).

Despite the sponsorship money and gate receipts, Hartrell says the club still loses about $400,000 a year. Still, she remains optimistic that they can turn things around.

"We're holding our own, considering the challenges we've had to face," she said.

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quote:Born from the ashes of the defunct Toronto Inferno
quote:They created the Lady Lynx from the old Toronto Inferno club — a W-League outfit that played in Scarborough — obtaining and renaming the franchise and giving it a new home.
Another problem is the way he described the birth of the Lady Lynx. One of these descriptions is more accurate than the other.
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