There are fans and then there are fans . . .

Reuben Villagracia
A Reuben With A View

Lori Gregory is a Toronto Maple Leafs fan.

Now anyone who has ever worked at the Times or knows Lori, our national ad rep and accounts receivable bookkeeper, knows the above statement is the ultimate of understatements.

Come spring time (a.k.a. Stanley Cup playoff time), the wall to the left of her desk is living proof of that as it’s littered with clippings from the Globe and Mail and Winnipeg Free Press of the Leafs in action against the Islanders, Senators, and Hurricanes during this current Cup run.

She’s decked out in a different Toronto jersey/shirt everyday, has several Leafs jackets, and knows the times of every game.

And let’s just say there’s a little more to her fascination with Mats Sundin than his strong puck-handling skills.

Because of her love of the Leafs, one of the favourite pastimes here at the office is getting a chance to rib her the morning after a Leafs’ loss or watch her bask in a win (of course, we’ll try to be a little nicer in the next few days after Toron-to’s heartbreaking elimination to Carolina in overtime last night).

Pro sports fandom. What makes average people embrace strangers just because they wear a certain uniform? It goes to the point where players are referred to by their first names and their teams as “us.”

It could be heredity (parents may be fans) or it may be geographical. Either way, It’s quite a relationship.

But there’s more to being a fan than painting body parts, screaming in the stands or, heaven forbid, tearing stadium walls down and hunting referees (those last two are mainly soccer-related).

That’s cliché stuff that may be an eye-opener on the surface but it doesn’t reveal the meat and potatoes about being a true fan.

Give me tracking a team’s progress during the off-season and training camp. Give me memorizing little tidbits of a team or important statistics. Give me taking losses so hard that it actually is a downer to your whole day.

Lori is one of the biggest Leafs fan I know, next to my friend, Ian, a high school classmate of mine back in Thunder Bay who was so nervous over Toronto’s playoff games that he refused to watch Game 7 of their 1993 first-round series against Detroit (the Leafs scored in overtime to win).

And to this day, he’d rather not discuss their blowing a 3-2 series lead against the Los Angeles Kings in the conference finals later that spring.

Now that’s a fan. But I shouldn’t talk. You see, I was the “Lori” at my former workplaces, loving all things dealing with the Los Angeles Lakers. But growing up a huge basketball fan in a country that likes its hockey, I wasn’t exactly embraced.

Well, that and I can be pretty annoying when it comes to gloating about the Lakers.

My current reporting cohorts at the Times either roll their eyes or try to change the subject when I start on about the Lakers. But can you blame me? The Lakers are two-time defending champions, have won 13 NBA titles, and have missed the playoffs only once in the last 26 years, making them clearly the most consistent pro sports franchise on the planet.

Oops. Kind of got carried there. Sorry.

Is rooting for a team to this degree harmless love or a cause for concern? I’d say the former. We all need a point of escapism and there’s nothing wrong expressing a little love, except for some cases (see my soccer example).

So where do you stand? Heed these examples and judge yourself where you stand on the “fan-o-meter.”

Jock Gemmell and Adam McTavish, a pair of Muskie football players set to graduate this spring, participated in the annual Subway Blue Bomber Senior Bowl in Winnipeg over the weekend. The two played on the “Thunder” and lost 29-25 to the “Lightning.”

The game featured senior players from the Winnipeg High School Football League and the Midget Football League of Manitoba in order for college and university scouts to get a last look at players before signing them.

Local sensei Chris Bazinet participated at the Wado Kai karate nationals in Hamilton over the weekend, and just missed a spot on the seven-person team representing the Shintini Federation.

Bazinet came in second overall in the fourth-degree black belt division. As such, he’ll serve as an alternate on the national team that will compete in tournaments over the next two years.

Currently a third-degree black belt, Bazinet did win three medals in the national competition—two silvers in the “kata” (demonstration) and a bronze in the “kumite” (sparring).

His daughter, Courtney, also was in Hamilton to compete in the orange belt division. While she didn’t win any medals, her father said it “was valuable experience for her to compete at a national level.”