As Toronto Argonaut running back Andre Durie stopped in the doorway of the gymnasium of Weston Collegiate Institute, he hoisted the Grey Cup to his shoulders and kissed it as students and faculty cheered.
He walked in, sporting a white 100th Grey Cup Champions hat on his head, and the glistening trophy at his side, We Are the Champions by British rock band Queen blaring from the school’s speakers.
About 100 students piled into the gym Tuesday, Jan. 7 to await the arrival of the Grey Cup and Durie, who helped the Argos defeat the Calgary Stampeders on Nov. 25 on home turf with three receptions and a touchdown.
For the Argos, returning to Weston C.I. at Jane Street and Lawrence Avenue West wasn’t just about sharing their triumph with students, but about keeping a promise they made to them seven months ago during a visit about anti-bullying.
“This was one of first things the players remembered when they won."
– Jason Colero, director of education, Toronto Argonauts
“This was one of first things the players remembered when they won,” said Jason Colero, director of education with the Canadian Football League club.
Whispers of a potential visit from the Argos first swirled around the school just before students took their Christmas holidays. According to principal Deborah Blair, as word spread students got more and more excited.
“They are over the moon about this visit,” said Blair.
Weston C.I. is one of 40 lucky schools in the GTA that will have the Grey Cup pass through its front doors and travel its hallways, something in which Durie takes pride.
“I’m a local boy, said Durie, who spent his CIS football days playing for York University. “So, we’re trying to take it to as many local schools as possible.”
Once Durie took his place in front of the students and thanked them for their support and dedication to the team and their hard work with the Huddle-Up Bullying Prevention Program, it was time for the real fun to begin.
Surprised faces could be seen across the bleachers as Durie unexpectedly grabbed the cup by its handles and took it into the stands. It was all smiles and laughs as students huddled around Durie and the Grey Cup, some reached over bodies just to get the chance to have their hand touch the Cup.
“I love football,” said Grade 12 student Tyres McIntosh, who got a chance to speak to Durie. “And seeing him here makes me happy and being able to talk to him like a regular person.”
Durie also posed for pictures with the school’s entire football team, the Weston Ironmen, and signed a couple of footballs, shirts, even notebooks for students.
“This is awesome,” said Durie, “Seeing the kids embracing it, seeing the city embracing it. It’s just a great opportunity to put a smile on the kids’ faces.”