|With the close of the 2007-2008 season, the record keepers at the OCAA have their work cut out keeping track of one of the most successful years in recent memory. Two of the brightest stars that ruled the ranks might also have pro careers on the horizon.|
Every sports fan is in part a lover of numbers. Within the sports domain, numbers hold the key to triumphs and tragedies. They are yardsticks and benchmarks, fodder for endless barroom comparisons and the foundation used to define true athletic sucess.
The OCAA’s numbers are receiving much attention
this year, due to the toppling of records by a
crew of up-and-coming athletes who are kicking
ass, taking names, while etching theirs in the
One of the more significant feats in the OCAA realm has been the game play of Mohawk’s Cull. Though many records for volleyball have only been kept since the 1999-2000 season (a reflection of international changes in scoring rules), observers note the standards Cull has set appear to defy the time available.
The lanky 24-year-old set a record with 12 aces in a game and the most serving aces in a season with 65, eclipsing the previous mark of 38. This year he guided his team to a provincial championship, setting three personal records and several more with his dominant team. But the six foot, four inch general arts student seems almost underwhelmed about his newly carved niche in the college record books.
The Croatian-born Cull, who spent six years in Africa, stumbled from soccer into volleyball through friends in high school. He said his natural proficiency on the court helped inspire his love of the game.
Cull humbly talks about his accomplishments and a chance of going pro. "I just have to talk to an agent and see what I can do, and get better. Get a lot better," he says.
Another athlete cemented in the record
books and one with a legitimate chance at a sports future is Durham Lords’ basketball
standout Anthony Batchelor. The 22-yearold
took the all-time scoring title in a game
against La Cite Coyotes. He passed the
1,434 point mark set by Fanshawe's Emilio
Rocca back in 1986 with a free throw in the
second half of a Feb. 11 home game.
"I'm more about wins. The whole team
concept, that's my whole prerogative,"
Batchelor says. "The individual stats feel
nice and everything but I think it's more of
an achievement when you get a team concept
involved in it."
The Scarborough native and penology and youth program student, whose humility is refreshing in a star athlete, first hit the hard court when he was six. After moving to Seattle at age 10 to live with his mother, the self-professed "mama's boy" returned to his native soil to avoid soaring American tuition costs and made the Durham team as a surprise walk-on four years ago.
Despite speculation within the OCAA that
Batchelor, who was recently courted by an
agent about attending an NBA training
camp, has a glimmer of hope at the dream,
the young man contends he is firmly rooted
"Chances might be slim, of course I'm
going to work hard at it. I wouldn't be disappointed
if I didn't make it. I have my schooling,
my education, so I put that first before
OCAA watchers have a tough time pinpointing
why this latest group of athletes
has left such a mark. Some speculate it is
the luck of the draw or perhaps that the
increased level of competition is breeding
Bax, however, offers a less obvious but
plausible reason for the surge of star power
stalking OCAA courts, pitches and fields
recently. She theorizes the answer to the
riddle is in history itself.
About 10 to 15 years ago, Bax says the
Ontario College system saw a crop of solid
athletes graduate from their programs.
Some even made it to the Olympics or professional
ranks in European volleyball. Then
in the late 1990s, numerous secondary
school boards around the province, including
the York Region and Toronto District
School Boards, went on strike.
Bill 160, a controversial proposal launched
by the then Tory Provincial government,
sought to shorten teachers' paid preparation
time. In response the teachers’ union
launched a massive strike that affected tens
of thousands of secondary school students.
The affair took its toll on after-school
sports programs, which disintegrated under
the work-to-rule agenda. Teams and competitions
folded and fewer students embarked
on athletic pursuits at school.
More than 10 years later with the matter
resolved and the high-school sports ship
righted, college and university programs are
again reaping the benefits of uninterrupted
"The school system has rectified itself and
there's been a huge push from the province
. . . to get kids active," Bax says.
"I think you're starting to see athletes