How to lose at beer pong

Text by Murad Hemmadi and Erene Stergiopoulos, Pictures by Bernarda Gospic, Illustration by Matthew D.H. Gray

How to lose at beer pong



1. The Bruce Willis

Strap a water gun to your chest and put on some synth percussion from the ‘80s. It’s time to Die Hard — at beer pong, that is. The rules say that if you can topple over your opponent’s cup, it’s a point in your favour. Nice.

2. The coitus interruptus

This shot is about getting as close as you possibly can to gold but pulling away at the last possible moment. It’s the perfect way to seem like you’re really trying to win, while losing enough to get to drink a LOT of beer. Emit a moan for effect.

3. The skimmed rimshot

Another classic teasing shot. In “normal” beer pong, this shot skims the inside rim of the cup and drops into the centre. The “losing” variant involves getting the ball to circle the rim of the cup and fly outwards instead.

4. The Elvis Stojko

Channel your inner ice dancer for this acrobatically-demanding shot. It’s all in a flick of the wrist, which will send the ball spinning in a hot mess of cool beer. Wear a skintight body suit for superior flexibility.

5. The Buzz Lightyear

Send your shot upwards to infinity, and beyond! Launch the ball straight out there with all your strength — the aim is to get it up into orbit. It’s one small throw for you, one giant leap for beery drunkenness.

6. The parallel universe

For the science fiction aficionado, this shot involves whipping the ball sideways into oblivion or, you know, the wall. Not only will you confuse your opponent, you’ll also launch the game into another realm of drunken awesomeness.

What’s that in my food?




Women edge Windsor in close encounter

Blues basketball team defeats CIS #3 Lancers

The Varsity Blues women’s basketball team upset the CIS third-ranked University of Windsor Lancers 81–80 in a close game Saturday. The win improved the CIS number-ten Blues’ overall record to 6–1.

Both teams shot well in the first quarter of the game, but the Lancers’ rebounding strength allowed them to gain early momentum. Jill Stratton made an immediate impact for Toronto, scoring six points in the first six minutes of the game, but that wasn’t enough to stop the Lancers from ending the first quarter with a 22–17 lead.

Windsor’s defence was strong throughout the first half, as the team combined for six steals — many led to easy fast-break baskets. Missed shots by the Blues allowed the Lancers to retain their momentum, and Windsor ended the half up 42–36.

The third quarter followed a similar pattern, with Toronto missing opportunities and being pushed around by the Lancers’ size and physical game play. But the Lancers proved less consistent in the period, allowing the Blues to close the gap to three points at one stage. The Lancers were then able to widen the scoring gap, and a missed lay up by the Blues allowed Windsor to end the third quarter ahead 59–52.

The Blues came out strong in the fourth, quickly bringing the score up to 59–56, before Windsor began to pull away to a seven point lead. But Toronto wasn’t willing to give up on the game; a Blues run put the team ahead for the first time in the second half as they led 66–65.


A Joanna Medri three-pointer gave Toronto a brief three point lead towards the end of the fourth quarter, before a layup and foul shot by Windsor tied the score at 77–77 with just 1:35 left in the game. Foul shots by both teams brought the score to 79–78 to the Blues, before a turnover followed by a foul against the Blues allowed Windsor to take an 80–79 lead with under a minute left.

After a Toronto timeout and with just ten seconds left in the game, Stratton made a clutch field goal, putting the Blues ahead 81–80. The Lancers tried to respond on their final possession, but the crushing Blues’ defence forced Windsor to try a long three-pointer that missed the net, cementing the win for Toronto.

What allowed the Blues to close the scoring gap in the fourth quarter? “I think we stepped up on defence … and [Joanna Medri] found her rhythm on shots. Alicia hit some shots as well, and I finally got one to fall,” commented Jill Stratton, who finished the game with eleven points and five rebounds.

Varsity Blues head coach Michele Belanger was very impressed by her team’s performance. “[The Blues were] outstanding… They all relied on each other and everybody made contributions when they needed to make contributions, which I think is the sign of a great team.”

Toronto’s high-scorer Joanna Medri ended the night with 21 points. “[Winning felt] so good. [The Lancer’s are] the number-three team in the country, so that was huge for us… We knew that these were two big games this weekend, Western and Windsor … and it feels great that we went 2–0 [this weekend].”

Belanger noted that the Blues women weren’t intimidated by the Lancer’s high CIS ranking coming into the game. “If anything they were more excited… We beat [Windsor] last year by one so I guess this is two years in a row!”


The Blues next take on the McMaster Marauders in Hamilton on Friday, December 2. 

U of T athletes reflect on Guadalajara games

Blues swimmers look forward to successful Toronto Pan-Am Games

Varsity Blues swimmers Frank Despond and Bridget Coley believe that Toronto has what it takes to host the 2015 Pan American Games. Despond and Coley both competed for Canada at the 2011 Pan American Games, held in Guadalajara, Mexico, from October 14–21.

The international sporting event was a pivotal moment in both swimmers’ careers; it was the largest international event either athlete had attended. I sat down with both swimmers to learn about their individual experiences in Guadalajara and their thoughts on Toronto as the host of the next Pan American Games.

Despond competed in a variety of freestyle events at the Games. In his individual events, he finished ninth overall in the 400-metre freestyle, and 12th overall in the 200-metre freestyle. Despond also swam the 4 x 100-metre freestyle relay, where his team came in seventh and the 4 x 200-metre freestyle relay in which they finished sixth. As with many elite swimmers, Despond is eager to compete for a spot at the 2012 Olympic games, and believes that the 4×200 freestyle is his “best shot.”

Fellow Varsity Blue Bridget Coley represented Canada in her main event, the 800-metre freestyle, and also in the 400-metre freestyle. Coley finished tenth in the longer race and one place further behind in the 400-metre.

As the 2011 Pan American games drew closer, reports of sanitation and security concerns arose. Though a number of athletes pulled out of the games, Despond and Coley were nevertheless eager to represent Canada at the senior level. Both athletes remarked on the strong military presence at the event. Despond said he felt safe with “a police presence of such magnitude,” and Coley said she “never felt at risk.”

“When we got there everything was not finished,” said Bridget Coley of the Athletes Village, noting the lack of hot water.  While there were some initial queries, both athletes found the village to be “well kept and new,” and they “never felt in a dirty environment.”

The only major complaint was the limited food options. This became an issue for Despond, who suffered from food poisoning in the early days of competition. Training at high altitude causes athletes’ hunger to be surpressed, but a balanced diet is still a crucial component of any athletes training regime.

“The pool facilities were amazing,” noted Frank Despond. Days before the event, Despond worried that he wouldn’t be able to race at all; the stands at the aquatic facility had not been finished. However, round-the-clock construction meant that “everything was finished at the last minute.” Despite initially wariness, Despond changed his mind quickly and said “[It was] the best pool I have ever swum in.”

Both athletes agreed that Toronto has the ability to host great games when its turn with the Pan-Am Games arrives in 2015. Despond hopes negative media attention about the financing of 2015 games will not overshadow Toronto’s potential as a host city.

Both athletes are worried about the crowd turnout and the media attention the 2015 games will receive. “Canada isn’t very good at putting competitions of that level on television,” Colley said. Both swimmers agreed that the country has a bias towards supporting certain sports. Only the opening and closing ceremonies and some sporadic highlights of the Guadalajara games were televised within Canada.

With their first senior level competition behind them, both athletes are training for the 2012 Olympic trials. While the 2015 Games are a few years away, Despond and Coley are already keen. Coley said it would be an honour “to compete for Canada on Canadian soil and have the whole crowd behind you.”

Blues fail to maintain momentum

Men’s hockey team falls 2–1 to Ottawa Gee-Gees

Blues fail to maintain momentum

The Varsity Blues men’s hockey team fell 2–1 to the University of Ottawa Gee-Gees on the 16th annual Minor Hockey Night, Saturday at the Varsity Arena. The defeat followed a come-from-behind 4–3 overtime victory over the Carleton Ravens on Friday.

Blues head coach Darren Lowe described his team as “Flat. No other word for it. Really flat.”

The Gee-Gees opened the scoring at the 15:46 mark, on a two-on-one that beat Toronto goalie Garrett Sheehan on his blocker side. The Blues responded two minutes later as forward Kyle Ventura picked up a loose rebound in the slot following Cassidy Preston’s initial shot.

Ottawa scored the eventual winner in the second period on a 4-on-3 power play.

Though it was an even game throughout, the goals just weren’t coming for the Blues. This wasn’t due to a lack of offensive pressure; the Blues had 24 shots and crashed the Ottawa net hard.  “We got our chances; we just couldn’t put the puck in the net,” Lowe admitted.

Toronto’s power play proved particularly costly, with the Blues unable to convert, especially during a crucial four-minute power play mid-way through the third period.

“They were clogging the neutral zone. We kept trying to deke in instead of just dumping it,” Lowe said.

In the last 15 minutes, U of T had a number of quality chances, maintaining pressure in the Ottawa end. Playing like that for a full 60 minutes might have led to a different result.

“It’s human nature after an emotional win like the one on Friday,” explained Lowe. “There were some things that we planned on doing tonight, but we didn’t get around to executing them until about 15 minutes left. When we did, we generated some good scoring chances.”


The Blues, 7–5–3 so far this season, sit sixth in the OUA East standings. “We’ve had to play some tough teams in the first half [of the season]. We have had some significant injuries and we played through it. We’ve grown as a team and have played some good hockey,” Lowe said.

The Blues focused on improving defensive zone game in the first half of the season. Toronto’s defensive play on Saturday suggested the plan is working. The Blues were able to play strongly down low in their own end and effectively disrupt the Gee-Gees shooting lanes.

“Our defensive zone coverage has been better in the last four games, but it’s a work in progress,” explained Lowe. “We have to make sure we execute the game plan, whatever it happens to be. We just didn’t do that tonight.”


The Blues wrap up the first half of their season on the road on December 2, against the University of Ontario Institute of Technology. The Blues return to Varsity Arena on January 13 to play the Ryerson Rams.

Boundless: U of T’s $2 billion challenge

Students groups concerned about donor influence and low government funding

Boundless: U of T’s $2 billion challenge

The University of Toronto formally launched “Boundless,” a historic $2 billion fundraising program, last week in Convocation Hall.

As the university’s “third organized campaign in the last 30 years,” according to Vice-President of Advancement David Palmer, Boundless aims to raise at least $600 million to globalize U of T’s student body and $1.4 billion to “meet global challenges.” A significant portion — $966 million — has already been pledged to the university during the last five years in the program’s “silent” phase.

Academic divisions have submitted $3.2 billion worth of funding requests for student programming, financial aid, faculty, and capital projects, says Palmer.

“We certainly hope that the $2 billion will be the minimum that we achieve,” he adds, pointing out that philanthropy only funds 30 to 50 per cent of such projects and the rest comes from other university sources and government grants.

Vice-President of Advancement David Palmer poses with the Boundless handbook in front of Simcoe Hall. SARAH TAGUIAM/THE VARSITY

Alumnus Paul Cadario, who has funded fellowships and scholarships in the School of Public Policy and Government, plans to support the university’s Boundless initiative.

“I could not be happier with how my gifts have had an impact,” he says. “I think I’m typical of many donors in that you support charities … because you know about them, and you like what they do, and you like how they do it.”

Cadario, an engineering graduate and a Senior Manager at the World Bank, says that he’s “especially excited” about the Centre for Global Engineering.

Despite the optimism of donors like Cadario, students groups have raised concerns on philanthropy’s possible impact on the university’s autonomy and academic integrity.

The GSU and UTSU, are wary  that donors might use their funding as an opportunity to push a specific agenda.

“Corporations have considerable influence at the institution, as we have seen at the Governing Council, where our government appointees often come from the private sector,” says UTSU President Danielle Sandhu.“We have seen a considerable resistance from students, staff and faculty over concerns of donor influence, particularly in relation to Peter Munk and the Munk School of Global Affairs.”

Palmer points out that donor agreements contain “a number of clauses that explicitly protect university’s freedom” and that the “first clause in every donor agreement is the protection of [the university’s] academic rights and freedom.”

U of T president David Naylor understands the student groups’ concerns but feels they can become overblown.

“I think it’s reasonable for people to always keep an eye on anything that might compromise our intellectual independence or academic freedom,” he says. “But I also think at times, this becomes something of a line of easy sloganeering, rather than a genuine sustainable concern.”

Sandhu is also concerned that the campaign will lessen the provincial government obligation to increase student funding.

“By undertaking this campaign to make up for the chronic underfunding of education by the provincial government, we fear there is a disincentive created for the government to inject public dollars into the university,” she says. “Our members are studying in the province with the highest tuition fees, lowest per-student funding, and largest class sizes.”

Palmer admits that government funding in Ontario universities has been “tightly constrained.”

“Government funding of universities in Ontatio, in real dollars, has been on a fairly steady decline,” he says. Palmer, however, pointed out that despite the tough economic times, the university has received some of its “largest gifts” in the past two or three years.

“We are intending to be ‘boundless’ in our pursuit of improved funding for the core operations of the university, understanding that it’s a tough time when this may not be exactly the moment to press aggressively,” says Naylor. “But as soon as things turn a little bit for the government, I think it’s essential for them to try to narrow the gap in per-student funding between Ontario and some of the other provinces.”

Toronto beats out fighting Lancers

Men’s basketball team holds off #10 ranked Windsor in front of packed Athletic Centre

Toronto beats out fighting Lancers

The Varsity Blues defeated the Windsor Lancers 86–81 Saturday in a dramatic game at the Varsity Arena. Toronto took the lead early and never looked back, capping a two game winning run at home to bring the Blues back to .500 (3–3) on the season.

Forward Alex Hill set the tone early, hitting three consecutive three-pointers to score the Blues’ first nine points. The Lancers felt the brunt of some precision shooting, with the Blues making 63 per cent from the floor in the opening frame.

Accurate shooting and strong rebounding allowed the Blues to open up a sizable 15-point advantage going into the second quarter. Hill acknowledged after the game that it was crucial to make a quick start: “We just wanted to push early, go at them, and not let off.”

Hill brought the crowd at the Athletic Centre to their feet with a play early in the first period, driving to the hoop from the left elbow and crowning a Lancer defender with a dunk plus the foul. “When I go to the rim, I go hard,” said Hill.

It was more of the same in the second quarter, as the Blues out-hustled their opponents on both ends of the court. Hard work off the glass from Sean Nickel and Andrew Wasik led to easy second-chance points allowing the Blues to maintain their double-digit advantage.

In the dying seconds of the first half, Nickel managed a steal and passed to Dakota Laurin, who was sent to the line and made both free throws. The Blues cruised into halftime with a 56–34 lead as the Lancers struggled from the field, shooting just 2-of-14 from beyond the arc.

The second half opened up with the Blues feeding Wasik in the post for two quick scores. The teams traded blows in an uneventful third period as the Blues headed into the final frame with a comfortable 20-point cushion.

But the Lancers full-court press halted the Blues offense in the fourth, while Windsor’s third-year guard Enrico Diloreto took over the game offensively. Diloreto, the CIS’ second-highest scorer poured in 11 of his game-high 33 points in the last seven minutes of the fourth quarter, including a stretch of eight straight points to bring the Lancers back within five of Toronto.

The Blues lead was cut to three points with just 25 seconds remaining, and the visitors were noticeably joyful as Toronto was forced to call a timeout. “Coach told us to relax and not listen to them … we [were] still winning,” said Hill.

Blues player-of-the-game Drazen Glisic recovered an offensive rebound from a Hill miss to finally put the game out of reach. Glisic scored a team-high 16 points, going 7-for-11 from the floor and adding six rebounds.

The win puts the Blues in a tie for second place with Ottawa in the OUA East Division. The two-game winning streak provided excitement for home fans, and put the team back on track after a disappointing three-game losing streak.

Hill said that the team has high expectations for the season given their wealth of vexperience. The Blues have more players in their fifth year of eligibility than any other team in the division, and Hill believes that could push them over the top. “We’re a savvy, veteran team and we’ve been through it all… We know what to expect.”


The Blues travel to Hamilton to take on the red hot McMaster Marauders, who have won five straight. 

THE 100 SERIES: Meet Michael Reid

This star of the astronomy and astrophysics department tells us about breaking the “fourth wall” in Con Hall

THE 100 SERIES: Meet Michael Reid

Standing at 6’3”, astronomy professor Michael Reid says his great stature allows him to have more presence when teaching at Convocation Hall. However, his height is not the only attribute that gives him a perfect overall score on instructor evaluation site and helps him command some of the largest classes at U of T.

Described by students as engaging, friendly and funny, Reid teaches the popular course AST101, which is taken by students from diverse backgrounds and disciplines.

“The challenge it raises is trying to get everyone thinking the same way and trying to present the material so that it’s accessible to everyone without any prior knowledge,” the salt-and-pepper-haired professor says.

While encouraging students to practise quantitative reasoning, Reid says he has taken math entirely out of AST101 to accommodate students with varying levels of math knowledge. In fact, during his exams, calculators are not allowed, which stirs up some controversy at times.

“As a scientist, most of my colleagues want to teach with a fair bit of math. That’s the way we make sense of the material,” Reid explains. “I personally feel a bit unfair to ask students to do a course that’s got math in it.”

To engage with a full auditorium, Reid says he tries to “break the fourth wall” and avoid spending too much time talking. He also breaks up teaching sessions with i>Clicker quizzes.

“It turns the lecture into a game in a way,” Reid says, describing the moment of total silence when students eagerly wait for the answers.

In addition to MSN chats and Blackboard discussions, Reid also takes part in what he calls “the café chats” where he meets up with student groups off campus at cafe spots.

He points out that U of T has “a funny office hour culture,” where meeting students at a designated location during selected time slots has always been a challenge for many instructors, due to the sheer size of the campus and the short breaks. Instructors must find innovative ways, both online and offline, to connect with students.

“As long as you adapt your teaching style, you can be just as successful with 1000 [students] as you can with ten,” Reid says. “You have to let your personality expand and relate to students in a different way.”

Aside from the occasional administrative challenge of managing more than 1200 students and 22 TAs, such as replying to emails, teaching at the 104-year-old campus fixture has been a very positive experience for Reid. He says he appreciates the vibrant energy of Con Hall, and whenever he poses a questions, chances are there is someone who is willing to share their thoughts.

Astronomy students face a unique challenge in the field of science as they cannot touch or directly study the subjects they are learning about. Reid adds, however, that students with a degree in astronomy enjoy one of the highest employment rates in any field. The most common career path is to work at university or government research labs. Also, with the variety of skills they acquire, students can expect to land a job in anything from finance and the medical field to technical writing and imaging.

Although Reid didn’t grow up with a telescope in his backyard, books on black holes and extraterrestrial lives sparked his interest and naturally led to his career choice as an astronomer. After completing his undergraduate studies in physics at the University of Waterloo, the Toronto native started teaching at McMaster University as a graduate student.

Recalling his first lecture — first-year astronomy with 120 students — Reid admits he was very nervous, despite the much smaller class size compared to his current classes at U of T.

“The main thing first-time instructors worry about is that they are going to get stomped on by students. I got stomped on a couple times,” Reid says with a chuckle.

Few students know that the soft-spoken professor has been a strict vegan for over two decades. He also enjoys creative writing during his free time and is an avid reader. He is currently reading Dostoevsky.