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Field goal in overtime gives varsity Grenadiers playoff win in Toronto

Mike Bashall’s 34-yard field goal in overtime gave the Kingston Grenadiers a 31-28 win over the Metro Toronto Wildcats in a first-round Ontario Varsity Football League varsity division playoff game Sunday afternoon in Toronto.

The victory, which avenged a 17-13 defeat against the Wildcats a week ago that cost the Grenadiers home field for the first round, gives Kingston a chance to get even with the league’s other Wildcats, from Cornwall, in the Wettges conference semifinal next weekend.

Again, the Grenadiers will be on the road, where they lost 17-16 to Cornwall early in the regular year.

Kingston got a pair of touchdowns Sunday from Liam Brand, on runs of three yards and one yard, Nate Thompson, on a seven-yard pass from quarterback Dylan Fisher, and Scott Leeman, who returned an intercepted pass 65 yards, accounted for the other major scores.

Fisher threw for 299 yards, 181 of them coming on seven receptions by Jeremy Pendergast. Fisher completed 18 of 31 attempts, but he threw three interceptions.

The Grenadiers also had three picks, with the others coming from Dylan Bell and Connor O’Neil, who returned his 24 yards.

But for two carries — a 24-yard gain by Konner Burtenshaw and a 19-yard carry by Cole Goodfellow — the Grenadiers were ineffective on the ground, getting just 55 yards from their other 18 attempts.

Regular-season champion Ottawa Myers Riders will host The Toronto Thunder in next weekend’s other conference semifinal. The Thunder defeated Cumberland 41-37 in the other first-round game Saturday.

Ottawa and Cornwall enjoyed first-round byes.

The junior varsity Grenadiers also advanced Saturday, with a 24-23 win over the Toronto Thunder in Toronto. For their trouble, the Grens will travel to Ottawa next weekend to face the Myers Riders.

The season ended for the bantam Grens Saturday. After winning their last four games of the regular season, they were ushered out of the playoffs in Pickering, where the Panthers prevailed 34-0.


Kate Gillis scores as Canada defeats Trinidad at Commonwealth Games

Kingston’s Kate Gillis scored Canada’s first goal Sunday and the Canadians went on to defeat Trinidad and Tobago 4-1 in women’s field hockey competition at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

Gillis, the Canadian team captain and a graduate of Regiopolis Notre Dame, helped Canada to a 2-0 halftime lead.

The win was the first in three tries in this tournament for Canada, which will close the preliminary round with a game Wednesday against New Zealand. Trinidad and Tobago is 0-3.

New Zealand, the fourth-ranked team in the world, is 2-0, tied for first place atop the division standings with South Africa. India is 1-1.

Regi’s other contribution to Canada’s team in Glasgow, wrestler Cleo Ncube, will fight his first match Tuesday.



Teeswater captures provincial midget softball crown; Napanee ousted early

It was a painfully short tournament for the home team this weekend at the Softball Ontario midget A championship in Napanee.

With a berth already assured in the Canadian championship, the Napanee Express was finished after just three games of the three-day provincial event, eliminated after losing 11-10 to Grand Valley early Saturday.

Teeswater won the Ontario title Sunday afternoon at the Fairgrounds, beating Port Perry 2-1 in nine (two extra) innings.

Matt Wardrop’s one-out single, in the bottom of the ninth, a bloop that landed just behind third base, scored Tyler Stacey from third base with the winning run. Stacey led off the inning by reaching on an error.

Wardrop gained the pitching win, allowing just five hits while striking out 14.

Teeswater, a town in the Bruce Peninsula about 60 kilometres northeast of Goderich, was undefeated in four games, with wins of 6-2 over Baden, 7-1 over Napanee and 9-1 over Port Perry, Saturday night in the game between the last two undefeated teams at the eight-team tournament.

After losing to Teeswater the first time, Port Perry earned a return engagement Sunday morning with an 11-7 win over Tavistock.

All Napanee could do by that point was watch.

The Express opened in impressive fashion, whipping Chatsworth 15-0 in a game shortened to five innings by the mercy rule. Then followed the defeat against Teeswater and, finally, elimination by Grand Valley.

After three scoreless innings in the tournament opener, Napanee scored four times in the fourth inning against Chatsworth and then 11 runs in the top of the fifth, an inning in which the Express sent 16 men to the plate.

Pinch-hitter Jordan Hunter had a pair of singles that inning, scoring twice and driving in two runs. Wyatt Fenwick capped a 4-for-4 game with a two-run double in the fifth.

Brandon Tucker also had four hits and he drove in four runs for Napanee, which got three base-hits from Haaken Zatterberg. Alex Douglas and Hunter combined to throw a two-hitter and strike out eight.

Napanee’s first batter against Teeswater, Blake Hurley, was hit by a pitch and he scored the game’s first run on a two-out single by Marcus Rice. The score stayed that way until the top of the fifth, when Teeswater scored five runs — all with two out.

Napanee pitcher Kyle Ainsley deserved a better fate, after allowing just one hit and striking out six through the first four innings, but Teeswater’s first batter in the fifth reached on an error. Two were out when six straight Teeswater batters reached base to turn the game into a rout.

Trent Bell’s two-run single was the decisive blow for the eventual tournament champions.

Wardrop silenced Napanee on just two hits — both by Rice. He struck out 16.

In what would prove to be Napanee’s final game, four runs in the top of the third put Grand Valley ahead 6-0 and after a three-run fifth, the Express trailed 9-2 before beginning to rally.

Two runs in both the fifth and sixth innings sent the Express into the bottom of the seventh trailing 11-6 before a dramatic rally made the game close.

Douglas led off with a single and one out later he scored on a double by Zack McCormick. Fenwick followed with an RBI single and after a single by Hurley, a two-out, two-run double by Tucker brought the Express within a run with the tying run in scoring position.

That’s where Tucker stayed, however, as Keegan Scott was retired on an infield pop-up.

Tucker finished the game with four hits, including a pair of doubles, while Rice and McCormick each had three in a 17-hit Napanee attack. Rice took the pitching defeat, as Grand Valley collected 16 hits.

Napanee will be one of four Ontario teams at the national championship tournament, Aug. 5-11 in Gander, NL.


Canadian women will seek first win Sunday in Commonwealth Games field hockey

Canada is idle Saturday after it they dropped a 2-0 decision to South Africa Friday in the women’s field hockey tournament of the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The game was scoreless before the South Africans, the 11th-ranked team in the world, scored twice in the second half. With the defeat, Canada, whose captain is Kingston’s Kate Gillis, fell to 0-2 in preliminary play, heading into a game Sunday against winless Trinidad and Tobago.

In its two games, Trinidad was outscored by a combined 30-0.

Canadians bow in Games opener

Canada lost 4-2 to India Thursday in its opening game of the women’s field hockey tournament at the 20th Commonwealth Games in Glasgow.

The Canadians, with Regiopolis Notre Dame grad Kate Gillis as captain, trailed India, the ninth-ranked country in the world, 2-1 at halftime. Brienne Stairs of Kitchener and Kristine Wishart of Hamilton scored for Canada, which is 22nd in the current FIH ranking.

Friday, Canada will seek its first win against South Africa. The 11th ranked South Africans won 16-0 Thursday in their opening game over Trinidad and Tobago.

Gillis, Ncube represent Canada at Commonwealth Games

Two Kingston-bred athletes are members of the Canadian team at the 20th Commonwealth Games, which opened Wednesday in Glasgow.

Field hockey player Kate Gillis and wrestler Cleopas Ncube are among 265 athletes representing Canada at the Games, which will run through Aug. 3 with competition in 23 sports.

Gillis, who will turn 25 in Scotland, was Field Hockey Canada’s player of the year in 2013. The daughter of Mike Gillis, the former Kingston Canadian and Vancounver Canucks general manager, and Diane Gillis, a national team long jumper and one-time track coach at Queen’s University, Gillis was a two-time all-Canadian at University of British Columbia.

A graduate of Regiopolis Notre Dame, Gillis has played 103 international games. She was a member of the Canadian team that won the bronze medal at the 2013 Pan Am Cup tournament.

Ncube, 30, won his first national senior championship in 2006 but this will be his debut at a major international Games. Also a Regiopolis Notre Dame graduate, the reigning national champion in the 74-kilogram division now lives in Montreal.

He will contest his first match of the three-day wrestling tournament Tuesday, July 29.

Field hockey competition begins Thursday when Canada plays India on the first day of in a nine-team women’s tournament where New Zealand, England and Australia are the top-ranked teams, internationally.

There are two other Kingston connections on the Canadian team in Scotland: Athletics coach Dave Scott-Thomas is a former track and cross-country coach at Queen’s, and Paul Ragusa, a 1996 Olympian, grew up in Kingston on his way to a silver medal at the 1994 Commonwealth Games in Victoria.

A graduate of Holy Cross Secondary School, Ragusa coached Canadian athletes at the Olympics of 2008 and 2012. Now a coach with the Dinos Wrestling Club in Calgary, Ragusa has three of his athletes in Glasgow: Brittanee Laverdure, Jasmine Mian and Erica Wiebe. All are reigning national champions in their respective weight classes.


An unlikely vocation awaited the man who scored RMC’s last touchdown

One of a series of stories of conversations with ex-cadets from Royal Military College, as they reflect on their time at the college, their sporting endeavours and what they’ve been up to since graduation.


When he came to Royal Military College in the fall of 1979, Fred Kaustinen figured he’d play a little football, get a degree, put in his four-year commitment to the armed forces and go back to working in his father’s pipeline business.

Becoming a combat diver, specializing in underwater demolition, would have been an unlikely detour in the career path of a young man for whom aquatics wasn’t exactly a passion.

“I couldn’t swim worth crap,” Kaustinen said the other day on the phone from Toronto. “Thank god the wet suit floats.”

Sure enough, however, Kaustinen mastered the craft and became the senior army diver for three years, his expertise in demand all over the world. Not bad for a vocation to which the former Redmen quarterback — and the man who scored the last touchdown in RMC football history — came quite circuitously.

“I became a combat diver because I was the only officer that passed the medical in our unit,” Kaustinen said. “The CO said, ‘You’re going to go on this course and you aren’t going to fail.’”

It was an arduous process. First came a screening program, which each candidate did at his home regiment. Then people were selected to go to British Columbia, where every morning “the fittest guy in the West Coast Navy runs your ass off, and then you’ve got to get into your wet suit in under five minutes and jump in the ocean.”

“The work day hasn’t even started and you’ve got to swim a kilometre in these open seas, and everybody has to do it in under 20 minutes or nobody gets to wear gloves — and the ocean’s cold. It took us three weeks to get everybody to finish under that. The first week, I was one of the slowest, for sure, because I wasn’t used to the water at all.”

“It was great, though. Those soldiers, the corporals and sergeants, man, they were salt-of-the-earth, tough, tough guys.”

The trade made for some interesting duty. Kaustinen dove with a number of special forces around the world and did a couple of minefield-clearance tours, in Kuwait after the first Gulf War and in Cambodia in 1994.

“A lot of that diving, that’s a great way to get out of headquarters and back with the troops. How could a guy not love that?” he said, although “work in the minefields stresses the crap out of you.”

“You always wonder at the end of the day if everybody’s going to get the next day. It’s high casualty rate work. When we were in Kuwait, there six international soldiers killed every day from unexploded ordinance and mines. We didn’t lose anybody. We had one accident, but he was fine.

“In Cambodia, where I was embedded with the unit, I was mentoring the Cambodian guy to be a unit commander. They were losing 10 people a day in minefields. We didn’t lose any in our unit. Most of the casualties were not minefield-clearance people. They were people gathering firewood or trying to clear a field for planting. The Khmer Rouge were very adept at planting new minefields overnight.”

Kaustinen’s military career arose after an ex-cadet saw him play football for Trafalgar high school in Oakville in the autumn of 1978. “I basically got a letter that said come play football.” The day his team won the championship, he was approached by a coach from RMC, who convinced him to come to Kingston. “That’s why I joined,” Kaustinen said. “Out of the blue, to play football at RMC.”

That summer, he was off to Chiliwack for officer training and before long, Kaustinen was wondering “what the heck I’d gotten myself into.”

“Some sergeant major is screaming at us, ‘Double up,’ ‘Dress up.’ To me, double up meant bend over and dress up meant straighten your tie.” Ten weeks later, Kaustinen was at football camp, about to embark on an undefeated season that culminated with what was known at the time as the Canadian small college championship.

Playing in Lennoxville, Que., RMC scored 21 points in the fourth quarter to defeat Champlain College 38-25. “That was just awesome,” Kaustinen said. “We had a fantastic team.”

Being a rookie that year, however, meant that four years later, a touchdown Kaustinen scored in a game against Sheridan in his home town would prove to be the last ever scored by an RMC football player.

“Following Lee Rogers’ block,” Kaustinen said. “It was a trap. I was playing running back that game, maybe around 10 yards. The blocking was just perfect. I went in untouched.”

News that the program would be discontinued had circulated that fall and became official in the spring of 1983. “It wasn’t overnight. We knew there was a move to get all of the varsity sports into university leagues,” said Kaustinen, who played rugby his final year at RMC and also was a member of the wrestling team.

“We knew it would be a struggle. Football is one of those games, there’s a ton of emotion with it. It was tough on all of the guys when that ended prior to graduation, but I got four good years out of it, and school. A lot of us went over to varsity rugby, anyway, so it wasn’t like sports ended.”

Kaustinen, who won the Tommy Smart Cup as the college’s outstanding athlete in 1983, studied in a program known as fuel engineering and management. A combat engineer who rose to the rank of major, he retired in 1999 and now works as a management consultant based in Toronto, specializing in risk management. His main client is the Ontario Association of Police Services Boards, which he serves as executive director.

“I assumed, somewhat falsely, maybe, that I’d be spending the last 20 years of a career riding a desk and I wanted to try something different.”

As a self-employed management consultant, Kaustinen pursued a number of different opportunities. His first was with Durham Region, which was looking for a governance advisor with a strategic planning background. That led him to working with police boards.

“Post-911 I had lots of counter-terrorism work,” he said. “Because I was an underwater demolition guy in the army, lots of people were looking for advice, mostly bridges and dams but then it morphed into critical infrastructure and transportation systems. I morphed that more into business continuity for all hazards risk.”

There’s a simple reason, Kaustinen said, why he chose a military career instead of returning to civilian life sooner: “I loved soldiering.”

“After graduation I got posted to Gagetown and got my first command at age 23. It was 65 guys and a bunch of armoured vehicles and it was great. Oh, god, it was fun.”

Kaustinen also saw domestic duty fighting forest fires and pre- and post-flood work, “because engineers have all the tools.”

“It was fun. We did all kinds of different things, and I owe it all to starting at RMC.”

He savours every minute of it.

“Time in the regiments was fantastic,” he said. “It was like living with a sports team, in terms of the challenges, the physical demands and the camaraderie. It was like being on a big football or rugby team. It was great.”

Kaustinen retired on Remembrance Day, in honour of the friends that he’d lost. He didn’t get around to attending a retirement dinner until 10 years later, but he recalls vividly what he said that night.

“I said when I was serving, all I could think about was all the cool stuff I was doing and all the cool places I was going to but I’ll tell you, 10 years later, what I really remember is not so much what we were doing, but the people I was doing it with.

“That is the highlight. It’s just like the sports things. It’s the guys I played with. I don’t remember the scores or the plays, but I can remember the smiling faces in the huddle, or at the beer-up after the rugby game.”


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