Wednesday, August 11, 2010

Douglas student a real pinball wizard

It’s been a whirlwind summer for Robert Gagno as the Burnaby pinball phenom continues his climb up world rankings.

Robert’s steady ascent began back in May when he competed in the International Flipper Pinball Association Championship in Cokato, Minnesota. At the time, he was ranked 60th in the world, but a summer on the pinball circuit, with stops in Seattle, California and, most recently, the “Showdown in Slabtown” in Portland, where Robert swept both the Classics and Open divisions finds Robert sitting in 25th place in the world rankings.

Just this past weekend, Robert competed in PAPA tournament in Pittsburgh, which draws hundreds of players from around the world. Although he just narrowly missed qualifying for the “A” division like he did last year, he placed second in the Classics division, which sees players face off on vintage machines. Thanks to this, his ranking should be bumped up to 21st or 22nd.

“My goal is to be number one in the world,” says Robert.

That drive is helping Robert make a name for himself on the circuit, as he matches up with some of the best in the business. In one dramatic game in Portland, Robert nearly edged out Keith Elwin, the top-ranked player in North America.

“If I had pulled it off I would have got a round of applause for sure,” says Robert.

Pinball has been a big part of Robert’s life ever since he received a machine for his tenth birthday. Today, he practices up to three hours a day and, when he’s not travelling, he hones his skills with the Vancouver Regional Pinball Association. At 21, Robert is one of the youngest players in the pinball community.

“They really like him and respect his pinball skills,” says Kathy. “They can get very competitive during tournaments, but they are also really supportive and encouraging of Robert. There’s a real community and Robert has met so many people through pinball.”

“I’ve heard people say I have amazing control, nice flipper skills and great aim,” said Robert.

Last year, Robert, who is autistic, took math and English courses through Douglas College. His mom, Kathy, says Robert is considering the Basic Occupational Education (BOE) Program for the fall.

Douglas College Basic Occupational Education

Tuesday, August 10, 2010

Get oriented at Douglas

Starting the first semester in college can be a stressful experience for new students. Fortunately, Douglas College’s Late Summer Orientation is on the way to help you get settled into college life.

“Our full-day LSO events give students the information, connections and confidence they need to hit the ground running in September,” said Eric Glanville, Student Development Coordinator with the Office for New Students. “By the end of the day, students will make new friends, buy texbooks before September rush, learn how to access key services, connect with faculty, get involved in student clubs and activities and much more. And they may even win some exciting prizes at the closing ceremony!"

At Late Summer Orientation you can:

  • Buy texbooks

  • Meet instructors and learn about college classes

  • Get Student ID cards

  • Get a campus tour and learn about student services

  • Sign up for student clubs and activities

  • Understand important dates and privacy issues

  • Make friends with future classmates

  • Win great prizes, including a Sony PSP!

    Late summer orientation sessions run from 9am to 3:30pm on Wednesday, August 18 and Saturday, August 21 at the David Lam Campus in Coquitlam and Wednesday, August 25 and Saturday, August 28 at the New Westminster Campus. For a complete schedule of activities, visit the Office for New Students web site.

    Attendance is limited, so click here to register today. Stay up to date on the latest news from the Office for New Students by checking them out on Facebook.

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    Tuesday, August 3, 2010

    Douglas College student shines behind the plate

    Douglas College student and Level 4 umpire Laura MacMillan (right) keeps her eye on the ball.

    Douglas College softball player Laura MacMillan is in a league of her own.

    At 20 years of age, Coquitlam’s MacMillan is the youngest person in Canada to hold Level 4 certification from the Softball Canada. Next week, she heads to St. John, New Brunswick to officiate at the 2010 Canadian Midget Girls Fastpitch Championships, which run August 1 to 8.

    “It’s exciting,” said the third-year Bachelor of Physical Education and Coaching student. “Softball is a social sport and I’m looking forward to meeting and working with new people there and taking part in such a high-level competition.”

    The multisport MacMillan - she also competes in soccer, judo and wrestling - first donned the umpire’s mask six years ago.

    “I’ve played softball since I was four and I decided to start officiating the sports I enjoy to make a little money, since my parents didn’t want me to have a paper route,” she recalls.

    Like many amateur sports officials, the soft-spoken MacMillan has had her share of run-ins with irate players and coaches.

    “It can get pretty intense,” she says. “I’ve never had to throw anyone out of a game, but I’ve had to send grown men back to their dugouts.”

    MacMillan knows bringing her own level of intensity is a big part of her job as an umpire.

    “You need to be decisive, have a good knowledge of all the rules, be confident and be really loud,” she says. “I love the adrenalin rush I get when making a call and getting it right.”

    In addition to her trip to the Maritimes, MacMillan is also looking forward to the new varsity softball season at Douglas.

    The Royals women’s softball squad begins its inaugural season in the North Division of the North West Athletics Association of Community Colleges (NWAAC) this fall, with MacMillan behind the plate, this time as catcher.