Brantford Roller Girls Ready for First Year

From The Sputnik – March 30, 2011

“Do you believe it is time for Brantford women to represent sisterhood, strength and sport with passion and commitment?”

For Tasha Buscombe, that time has come.

Buscombe, also known as Stella Flash, is the co-chair of a new local roller derby league that started with a Facebook campaign that asked women in the Brantford area if any interest existed in bringing the sport to the city.

Now, in the spring of 2011, the Belle City Roller Girls are recruiting players and practicing in preparation of the upcoming summer schedule that will see Belle City travel across Ontario for competition.

Roller derby is a sport that has taken off in recent years, which Buscombe feels could be a result of an increase in movies about the sport.

One example of this is the Drew Barrymore and Ellen Page hit derby movie “Whip It,” which helped bring international attention to the sport. It seems to have worked. Buscombe says that the past two years have seen new leagues pop up across southern Ontario, from Guelph all the way down to London. In fact, the league out of Hamilton which was just established in 2006, is Canada’s oldest.

Buscombe says that the idea to bring a team to Brantford started at the grassroots level, where she just went to members of the community to see if interest existed.

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Forever Remembered

My apologies for the long delay in getting another post up. It’s been a rather busy last two months.

The following is a piece that I wrote for a course last year. Given the assignment to write about a certain place in Brantford (however, restaurants, bars & stores were excluded) I decided to take on a rather challenging subject – the historic, beautiful, and tragic war memorial.

A Canadian flag atop a long silver pole whips in the wind, blocking out all noise from the traffic on the busy intersection behind me.

Flowerbeds line the interlocked path that I am descending, though today they are empty and covered in a thin white sheet, evidence of the Canadian winter that just ended.

As I get closer, the eyes of the four women and three men standing tall in front of me seem fixed on me, or perhaps the armouries across the street.

Of course, that’s impossible. The lifelike and life-sized bronze statues–four of which signify the importance of women during the war, while the other three are replicas of soldiers from the army, the navy and the air force–have been frozen in these spots since being unveiled 18 years ago.

Between them, engraved into the towering grey structure, read the words: “They Lost Their Lives For Humanity.” Along the ground below the statues lies another flowerbed, which on Remembrance Day is filled with wreaths of all colours paying tribute to fallen soldiers; but on this February day, it sits empty.

Atop this foundation stands the focal point of the memorial: a towering slab of grey limestone rising upward, cutting into the clear blue sky.

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Putting the “Fun” Back in Fundamentals

From The Sputnik February 16, 2011. Also ran on the CUPWire.

It’s 6:30 a.m. on a Sunday and AC/DC’s “Thunderstruck” is reverberating through the dressing room while the players discuss their Saturday nights.

Head coach Andrew Francella, a third-year concurrent education student, finishes filling up the team’s water bottles and comes out of the bathroom to try to motivate the 11 smiling faces waiting for him.

“Alright, guys, bring it in,” Francella says to his team, the Brantford Avengers. “We’ve been in the last few games we played and if we play hard and hustle, I think we can win this one.”

This morning, he’s wearing a navy hoodie, a pair of faded blue jeans and flashy grey Nikes as he lays out the strategy for the morning’s contest. He emphasizes that the team must continue working on clearing the puck off the boards in the defensive zone and setting up plays from the point on offence.

“But the most important thing today is what, guys?” Francella asks. “I’ll give you a hint: It starts with an ‘F.’”

“Fun!” shouts back one enthusiastic player.

Francella asks again, louder this time, and the whole team screams the answer back this time.

“You have to keep it light-hearted because when you’re learning you want to emphasize, ‘Yeah, you’re still learning, you’re not going to get everything right away,’” Francella said in an interview later. “That’s why making sure they’re having fun is the biggest thing so that when they make mistakes, they don’t get down on themselves.”

While most students are sleeping in, sometimes in an effort to get rid of a hangover, Francella has spent each Saturday and Sunday morning this year, waking up early to coach his team of eight- and nine-year-olds.

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WLUSU Hopes Coffee Kiosk Will Aid Struggling Williams

From The CordNov. 23, 2011

So, there are two copies of this story out there this morning.

There is, of course, the short one written for my beloved Sputnik, and then an extended version with some added tidbits which is published in our sister paper in Waterloo, The Cord. Please note the one below contains files from Marcie Foster, Lead Reporter for The Cord.

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The Wilfrid Laurier University Student Union hopes a new coffee kiosk on the Brantford campus will not only fulfil student needs, but boost business to the struggling Williams operation.

The Williams Fresh Café in Laurier Brantford’s Market Square, which is franchised by WLUSU, had a deficiency of over $111,000 for the year ending April 2011, according to documents obtained by The Cord and The Sputnik.

Compared to 2009 when the deficit was running over $220,000, the running deficit has been nearly halved in the two-year period. Yet, Williams still struggles financially, as seen by the six-digit price tag that it costs to run the restaurant.

In all, since its 2008 opening, the Williams at Laurier Brantford has ran up a deficit of $655,398.

However, members of WLUSU are optimistic that Golden Grounds, a new coffee and hot drink kiosk in Laurier Brantford’s Research and Academic Centre West building, will help boost business at the café. The coffee kiosk, set to open Dec. 5, is expected to generate a modest surplus of around $20,000 each year.

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