Chuck Richardson is looking for midtown football players.
Not because he’s coaching at Lawrence Park Collegiate again, nor is he hunting for talent for his city-wide Metro Wildcats league. Richardson has instead just been tasked with heading a football program at Premier Elite Athletes’ Collegiate, a co-ed private school for elite student-athletes located in Downsview Park.
The school already has programs for hockey, soccer and squash. It boasts Connor McDavid, the expected first overall pick in the upcoming NHL draft, as one alumnus. It is now expanding to include football for the 2015-16 school year, and Richardson knows where he’s going first to look for student athletes.
“My obvious connections are midtown Toronto,” he said. “So that’s where I’m going first.”
After getting the go-ahead in late February, Richardson began by hiring a head coach, selecting Tom Gretes, currently the co-head coach at Northern Secondary and a one-time coach at York University and the University of Toronto.
“I don’t know if there’s a more well-known name in football coaching circles in Toronto than Tom Gretes,” Richardson said. “His coaching skills and knowledge of the game are second to none.”
Gretes, who is also a director in the Metro Wildcats system, says it’s an “exciting proposition” to be involved in “starting something from scratch.” Like Richardson, he sees midtown as the area to start.
“We want to recruit in this area first and then work our way out,” Gretes said. “There are enough good football players in the Toronto area that that’s a good starting point.”
Naming midtown schools like Lawrence Park, Northern SS, North Toronto CI, Leaside High School, Upper Canada College and St. Michael’s College School as hotbeds of football talent, Richardson said he’s starting his recruiting from where he knows best.
“I’m personally more familiar with what’s happening right in the heart of Toronto than I am anywhere else,” he said. “My football life has been in the central part of Toronto so this is obviously where I’m going to try to get exposure for the PEAC football program.”
Richardson said he’s looking to have a minimum of 35 student-athletes to field a team. While the school takes students from anywhere in the world, he’s still starting his search in midtown despite having that global talent pool from which he can recruit.
“This is all going to start from Yonge and Lawrence and outward,” he said. “That’s my experience and that’s where my comfort zone is. I’m going to reach out from that point, domestically, out of the city, the country and even internationally.”