This past spring, the U of T Varsity Blues All-Century Football Team was unveiled in the Great Hall of Hart House. “The entire evening was quite emotional,” says Rick Kollins (BA 1964 UC, BEd 1973, MEd 1980), chair of the 15-person selection committee and an assistant coach with the Blues from 1973-81.
Kollins broke the 86-strong fantasy team into two lineups: legend (1890-1960) and modern (1961-2000). Among the members are such former CFLers as Nick Volpe (BPHE 1948, BEd 1963, MEd 1968); Ted Toogood (BPHE 1948, BA 1964 WOODS); Steve Oneschuk (BPHE 1954); Mike Eben (BA 1968 VIC, MA 1969, PhD 1976); and John Raposo (BA1995 UTM); as well as current player Tom Hipsz (BA 01 WOODS) of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.
Other team members include Ontario Chief Justice Roy McMurtry (BA 1954 TRIN, LLD Hon. 1998); Dr. Fraser Mustard (MD 1953), founding president of The Canadian Institute for Advanced Research; former U of T president John Evans (MD 1952, LLD Hon. 1980); Jon Dellandrea (BA 1973 SCAR, MEd 1980, DEd 1987), vice-president and chief advancement officer at U of T; and Toronto Maple Leafs’ assistant to the president, Bill Watters (BPHE 1964, BA 1965 VIC). Inductees were selected through ballots distributed at games and related events, under direction of the Friends of Football, a group of U of T alumni and friends who support the Varsity Blues football team.
Each member received a certificate, while more than 300 audience members were inspired by video footage of the team’s 1965 and 1995 Vanier Cup victories (the Blues have also nabbed four Grey Cups and 25 Yates Cups). As well, a tribute to Toronto Sun sports columnist Jim Hunt commended his extensive coverage of university sports. The event raised $8,000 for U of T’s football program.
Several former players spoke at the ceremony, including Tim Reid, former president of the Canadian Chamber of Commerce and onetime halfback with the Blues. Reid also read an excerpt from a letter sent by former Blues Captain Curt Russell (BPHE 1958): “These are life-enhancing experiences that bring a certain flavour to one’s life – a life that would be poorer without them.”