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'A big undertaking': New Jr. C hockey team skates into Innisfil

'I didn’t get to play hockey, so I did one better; I got my own hockey team,' says founder of Innisfil Spartans that will battle the Orillia Terriers Saturday night

After a 28-year absence, Innisfil has a new Junior C hockey team. 

It all started four years ago when George Floros was attending his son’s hockey game and struck up a conversation with one of the other fathers about local hockey. They were trying to figure out why Innisfil had such a beautiful venue for hockey but no home team to play in it.

Driving home that day, the thought stuck with him, and he said to himself, “I’m going to do this.” 

Floros had heard from others that many people had tried to start a team before but were unsuccessful.

"I just think people gave up too easily. It’s a big undertaking, and I was persistent; when one door closed, I made sure two more opened," he said.

It seems his dedication was worth the effort with the team's home opener on Saturday drawing hundreds of spectators. The Spartans will be in Orillia Saturday night to battle the Orillia Terriers in a 7:30 p.m. contest at Orillia's Rotary Place.

What’s involved in starting a hockey team? Floros says you need to build a team that believes in the idea — a team of supporters and backers, sponsors, staff, and professionals who understand the game. Once he had his support team, he was able to raise funds, promote, and recruit players. 

Floros holds the title of owner and president of the Innisfil Spartans. His love for hockey stems from wanting to play as a child but never having the opportunity. Coming from a low-income family who travelled to Canada to start a new life, his resources were limited. 

“For me growing up, education was the only priority. Monday to Friday was school; my weekends consisted of Greek school on Saturdays and church on Sundays.” 

He did, however, appreciate a strong upbringing focused on learning about his heritage, something that clearly influenced the team’s name and overall inception. 

“I didn’t get to play hockey, so I did one better; I got my own hockey team.” 

The team’s name and logo for the Spartans is close to Floros’ heart as well. Although born and raised in Toronto, he has a Spartan background.

“I have Spartan blood in me,” Floros says proudly.

He included the colours from the Spartan flag into the team’s branding. The logo shows an authentic Spartan helmet encompassed in a traditional Greek border and large striking letters spelling out the team’s name.

Innisfil Spartans is a team of 24 players aged 16 to 21 years old. Four coaches stand behind the team on the bench, and countless others rally for the team as well.

As the Spartans took to their home ice for the first time, the crowd cheered them on with pride. For Floros, it was a special moment.

“Our goal is to keep promoting the game, to keep getting the youth out and active, to help them find a balance between recreation and education, so that they can be prepared for the next stages of life.” 

Floros has plans to keep the team involved in the community, to give back to the people who helped make his hockey dream come true. 

The Spartans beat the Caledon Golden Hawks 5-3 in Saturday's game.