Coach Jason Kuuter was skeptical how far Secord Elementary School’s touch football team could go when the season began in mid-October.
“I knew that they were talented and that they would be competitive,” he said. “But I could not have predicted this win.”
When the game-winning touchdown was scored in their 26-21 victory over Keele Street Public School on Oct. 29, Kuuter felt that it showed just how much they’ve grown as a team.
“They really developed as teammates,” he said. “The kids are great athletes and very good sports. It was a pleasure to coach them.”
The game was a big deal to the East York school. It was its first championship in its 103-year history, and members of the Secord community made sure to support the team as much as they could. Four buses dropped students, teachers, and parents off at Esther Shiner Stadium for the game.
Principal George Vlahos said the school doesn’t host championship games often and wanted to create a professional atmosphere for the students.
“It was like you were at a Toronto FC game,” he said. “The chanting of ‘De-fence’ and ‘Se-cord’, the clapping, and the stomping on the stands. The kids had a great time.”
Nine-year-old Jessie Lynn is one of the squad’s veterans. She was on the co-ed football team that lost in the conference final last year. She said last year’s loss helped her come back stronger.
“I took what I knew from last year and used it this year,” she said. “I also mixed it with a few more strategies and trying to just be a team.”
Lynn felt proud of what she achieved for both herself and the school.
“It was really nice that we won,” she said. “We hadn’t won in 103 years and it felt really good getting our medals.”
Lynn was one of four girls that made up Secord’s touch football team. They were the only co-ed side in the league and frequently came up against all-boy opposition, but that didn’t hinder their performances.
“Some of our female students here are amazing athletes,” Kuuter said. “They just fit right in because they like football, and girl or boy, we play as a team.”
Lynn said the championship proves girls can compete with boys in athletics.
“A lot of boys say that girls can’t do it, that girls can’t beat boys,” she said. “But we showed them that girls can beat boys, girls can get touchdowns and girls can do everything.”
“This is 2018,” he said. “Maybe in 1968 we had a different perception. But in 2018, the myth is busted.”