TORONTO - Yes, Nick Volpe, may he rest in peace, was related. As a high school student, I used to get that question a lot. He had recently retired as a Toronto Argonaut, a genuine and celebrated Grey Cup Championship hero. A Toronto boy, born and bred, and a real “class act” and “a problem solver”.
He subsequently pursued a career in education, with equal success. But he stayed involved in football as an analyst/commentator and broadcaster. People still asked if we were related. The response was always an enthusiastic yes.
His father was first cousin to my grandmother. My grandfather sponsored his dad, I would add proudly. I was born in that same historic mountain town from which so many Torontonians, like his father, originated over a century ago.
Yet, it wasn’t until 2005 that I met Nick for the first time. Ironically, it was to offer a solution for an impasse to building a stadium to FIFA standards so that Toronto could host the Under-20 Men’s World Cup Soccer Championship. The mayor and his downtown City Councillors were uncooperative. Nick, supported by Argo’s owner Howard Sokolowski (husband of former Senator Frum) presented a proposal that would satisfy financial and public policy requirements – all at field level, live, at an Argos game.
And so was born what is now TFC stadium on the CNE grounds. The story in its details is for another time, but Nick Volpe, football hero, educator and Toronto booster, deserves credit for marshalling talents and resources for the city and people he loved.
Condolences to his family. May he RIP.