The Definition of Irony: An outcome of events contrary to what was, or might have been, expected.
Imagine my surprise when on the same day that I published an article that specifically talked about how the Niagara Storm Junior Varsity football team had gone undefeated to start the season (3-0) and were off to their best start in club franchise history, a major revelation occurred, which has now changed the official OMFL standings, and has handed the Storm their very first unexpected loss of the season.
“A young man that was on our team falsified his application and played for a team that he shouldn’t have been playing for,” explained Niagara Storm co-founder, Todd Fryer. “He should have been playing for the Varsity team. When we take applications, we take birth certificates and then we cross reference them, and this one got missed, so ultimately, it’s my responsibility,” added Fryer. “It’s my fault. It should have been caught. Now, when it was submitted to the League, they checked it as well, and they missed it as well, so that’s basically what happened.
“The kid’s father sent me an email yesterday confessing to what was going on and as soon as that happened, I contacted the League and told them because I didn’t want to sacrifice our season. I tried to be as honest and as forthright as I could be, and now you see the result. The League handed out their punishment of the forfeiture of one game to the team, and the young man has been barred for two years.
“The League realizes that it wasn’t completely our fault. If they thought it was our fault, they would have stripped us of all three games. That’s why the kid has been barred for two years. They realize that we acted in an absolutely responsible manner and that’s that. We had to do something, and they [the League] did the minimum. They were in a position where they had to act and that’s all there is to it,” concluded Fryer.
The Definition of Integrity: Adherence to moral and ethical principles; soundness of moral character; honesty.
So basically, instead of a recorded win from this past weekend’s game against the North Halton Crimson Tide, when the Storm had defeated Halton by a score of 54-20, the Storm now have a recorded loss. The League altered the final score of that game to Halton 6, Niagara 0.
I applaud Mr. Fryer for doing the right thing, and I understand how disappointing this must be for all of the Storm players who have played some outstanding football this year, but I would just like to take a moment to point out a few positives.
First of all, an important lesson has been learned. Not only by the Storm organization, but for the players who have now been witness to the sacrifice and honesty that this organization represents. Changing the record (2-1) does not diminish the win or the dominant fashion in which it was accomplished. North Halton can keep their win, and as they sit high atop the standings, now currently ranked undefeated in the number one position, they will know that they got outplayed by a much better Storm team that still has 100% of its starters fully intact—waiting for a possible rematch (playoffs).
Secondly, despite losing 54 points from their total, the Niagara Storm are still ranked in the number one position on Offense with 101 points (acquired in two games). Defense is now ranked a close number two.
Thirdly, this now puts the value of winning in a much better perspective than going undefeated ever could. It’s always harder to stay motivated when a team is so completely dominant over their competition. This weekend, Orangeville is going to find out the hard way that the Storm have every intention of getting those 54 points back again. In the words of Head Coach Dave Richardson, “Our foot isn’t going to come off of the gas pedal for the whole rest of the season.”
And lastly, and this one is for the players—it’s not the wins that are important. Forget about the record. Instead, focus on the ultimate goal of getting better each and every week. Starting right now, put this incident behind you and remember that there are more important things than worrying about who was at fault or what was taken away.
You’re still the Storm and you’re still a family. And this team is still very much in the hunt for its very first Championship. That’s what really matters.
So this Sunday, go out there, play like champions, and show the OMFL what Storm football is all about.
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Follow James Ryan on Twitter @TheSportstender