Details of the Toronto Lynx Press Conference and Meet The Lynx Luncheon held Wednesday April 30th, 2003 at the Travelodge Hotel in North York at 11:30am.
The conference started at 11:45am with a head table of Lynx co-owner Nicole Hartrell, head coach Peter Pinizzotto, Gary Miller of the Bryst International Academy, and Lynx captain and goalie Theo Zagar.
Nicole led off with a joke about the Lynx intimidating their upcoming opponent Pittsburgh because of rather lame telephone enquiry from the A-League president about the SARS scare. The players may take the field wearing surgical masks! Actually this got big laughs from those in attendance from our embattered city. She introduced the head table and then many corporate sponsers and thanked the media partners.
Gary Miller was next. His group Bryst International is responsible for youth programs and is now following a European model of off-season training and Y-League competition with other A-League youth teams. The focus is on development and the games are played at Centennial Stadium. The program provides pro-path opportunities for those aged 14, 15, and 16.
Nicole came back up to the mic to outline her vision. "Why continue?" She believes the team is financially viable and Toronto is a soccer town too (it's multicultural and not just all about hockey).
The idea is to close the gap between amateurs and pro attendance in a grass roots momentum.
This year has increased sponsorship and for the first time the business community has come to them about joining. She used the example of 'Fruite' beverages. There's an increase in ticket sales and an increase in community sponsorship with groups like the CAW union aboard. There's stability in the front office.
At last there's full CSA cooperation as that group has now realized Canadian development depends on A-League expansion and the viability of Canadian teams. Proposals have been received to get Edmonton in the league by 2004 and Hamilton and Winnipeg by 2005.
There's new stadium interest in Toronto with a still secretive investment team.
The new A-League team Syracuse Salty Dogs now provides another rival, there's a new Can-Am Cup [six game schedule involving Lynx, Montreal, Rochester, and Syracuse] and the Voyageurs Cup will continue.
There's a mix of veterans and newcomers on this year's team.
The continued support of the fans like the Ultras.
The Toronto Lynx will be the top tier of soccer in the city even if they join the MLS.
Peter Pinizzotto is in his seventh year as head coach of the Lynx and thanked the owners for their faith in him. He decided Theo Zagar for his leadership abilities would be captain of the team soon after Marco Reda left for Europe.
Theo Zagar the captain spoke next and commented that the poor weather over the last month has effected their training. He felt a positive bonding in last weekend's training camp in Houghton New York. He sees the teams success based on a good start and the second step as making the playoffs this year. He believes in the players they have and they should provide an exciting season. He wants the media to get involved in support of the Lynx and local soccer.
Peter Pinizzotto continues by introducing his support staff: medical coordinator Dr Robert Gringmuth, new assistant coach Alberto Fortado (sp?), goalkeeping coach Paulo Silva, youth coach Gary Miller, and thanked Ultras fans and the media. He said he was disappointed to miss the playoffs last year but glad that the team recovered from their eight game road trip start to the season and the stadium problem.
This year's roster has 13 returning and 9 new players. Player introductions 12:15pm:
Theo Zagar--goalkeeper and captain.
Robbie Aristodemo--now back for his third year.
Brian Ashton--now more aggressive and having had a good preseason.
Sebastian Barclay--new forward from Argentina.
Nick Blicharski--new, youngest player from Wilfred Laurier University.
Salvatore Borgh--new, played for CPSL Hamilton and A-League Calgary last year.
David DiPlacido--returning, coach's advice "shoot more".
Shawn Faria--2nd year.
James Kryger--2nd year back-up goalie.
Ryan Lucas--2nd year from Cincinnati midway through the year, Barbado's national team.
Joe Mattacchione--3rd year.
Josue Mayard--1st year from Montreal Impact.
Ali Ngon-- from Pittsburgh near end of last year.
Giuliiano Oliviero--from Montreal Impact but was playing indoor with Cleveland Crunch and had injury requirying surgury so will miss first six to eight weeks of season.
Adrian Serioux--5th year.
Daniel Takhee--1st year, from Quebec, the only player from sixty to make the team from the open camp they held.
Jan Veenhof--1st year, from Holland.
Nicola Vignjevic--5th year and good enough for Europe.
Mauricio Vincello--3rd year from Argentina.
There was another player away at University who will be ready by their 3rd game. Sounded like his name was Tyler Hughes although I noticed Ryan Thompson mentioned in the media notes.
Lunch buffet was served. Very interesting as I had a choice of talking with Toronto Sun sports reporter Mike Koreen and mayoral hopeful John Nunziata talking about the soccer scene in Toronto or former national team goalkeeper, now Sportsnet Broadcaster Craig Forrest talking to CPSL media director Stan Adamson. Nunziata had that WWE (wrestler's) confidence that he'll be the next mayor and was very optimistic about multicultural Toronto supporting soccer. Koreen was his cynical realistic self (never let's that creep into his stories though). Another Toronto mayorial hopeful, David Miller, was also mingling with the journalists.
I was asking around but couldn't find anyone with a clue (or willing to talk) about which investor was willing to write a cheque for the $10 million MLS expansion fee.
I stopped a potential scheduling conflict when I asked Stan Adamson about when there'd be a CPSL press conference. He'd decided earlier today to have it Wednesday May 14th at Toronto City Hall at 12:00pm however I flipped through my appointment book and found the Lynx annual School Day game would be taking place at Centennial Stadium at exactly the same time. "Looks like I better change that then". CPSL press conference time to be announced soon! The CPSL; will start the weekend of May 17th and 18th with some preliminary Canada Cup games against some non-CPSL teams.
Team officials were pleased that three full camera crews were at the press conference whereas they were only expecting one. [This is besides the individual handheld cams]. Attendance was about fifty not counting Lynx players and officials.
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