It's off to our nation's capital for Bishop Tonnos Catholic Secondary School's Mark Randazzo.
On November 27, the Grade 12+ student signed with the University of Ottawa, where he traded in his maroon Titans jersey for a Gee-Gees one.
Falling in love with the sport in Grade 8, Randazzo admitted it was the contact that hooked him. Despite being cut from the school's football team in Grade 9, he had dreams of playing for the University of Ottawa.
His passion and dedication to the game landed him numerous spots on football teams outside the school, including the Hamilton Junior Ticats, last year.
Back on Titan turf, he secured a jersey in Grade 10 but noted he had to put in work to stay on the playing field.
"It's like the Michael Jordan parallel. Cut in high school but then went on to do amazing things," said Titans Coach Mike Giftopoulos, who stressed it wasn't him who cut Randazzo back in Grade 9.
Fast track to this year, Randazzo helped lead his team to the Senior Boys Semi Finals, and caught the eye of University of Ottawa Head Coach Jamie Barresi.
"We’re always looking for an outstanding athlete, a really good competitor, and an excellent student," said Barresi.
"Mark seems to have all of those qualities. He's one of the top kids in the Hamilton area. A lot of people knew about him."
Randazzo, who will be following in his parents' footsteps and also studying law at the university, will be heading up to Ottawa in January to start the transition process a semester early.
The university has a mentoring system where they partner up new recruits with another student on the team and in the same program, said Barresi. This way, students will learn how to manage the pressures of a student athlete, on and off the field.
Randazzo, however, isn't nervous. In fact, he welcomes the challenge of starting fresh.
"You end your high school career as one of the top players, and now going to university you're back on the bottom," he said. "I love knowing there are people better than you but still trying to work your way up to their level."
Pushing him to that level is sister Kate Randazzo, a graduate of Bishop Tonnos who is now playing hockey for Oswego State.
"She worked so hard to get where she is. She really inspires me."
While Bishop Tonnos says farewell to another Randazzo talent, Giftopoulos isn't worried about his team next year.
"The football program is turning a corner with people like Mark going to the next level," he said.
"We look forward as a school community to following and celebrating his success with the University of Ottawa," added Principal Carmelo Barone.
Related: https://bt.hwcdsb.ca/244534--Titan ...