Sports Editor, Toronto Sun
In most sports organizations they have trouble-shooters who help solve problems. The National Lacrosse League is no exception.
When one of the teams, owners, referees or players need help of any kind, they don’t turn to a Bruce Norris, Jim Bishop or a John Ferguson.
They are told to call Tosca.
The first reaction of an outsider would be to ask: What’s Giacomo Puccini’s opera got to do with lacrosse?
But even insiders at the start of the NLL were uncertain when told to call Tosca. In fact several times the callers asked to speak to “Mr. Tosca.”
It startled them somewhat when a female voice answered: “I’m Tosca.”
The mysterious Tosca is Tosca Gazer, a hazel-eyed, brown-haired, pretty young lady who may have thought lacrosse was some kind of an exotic dish. She knew nothing of the game. But in a short period of time she’s become the Girl Friday of professional lacrosse, who makes certain all the details of the operation are being looked after.
“I had never seen a lacrosse game in my life until the Toronto Tomahawks started practicing,” said Ms. Gazer the other day. “Prior to that I knew nothing about the game. When our company (Analytical Communications Incorporated, a subsidiary of Vickers & Benson Advertising) was given the NLL account, I was appointed to handle the public relations aspect of it.
“As soon as I was given the assignment, I sent my secretary to the library to gather all available information on lacrosse so I could study it. But all the clippings and photographs didn’t help me half as much as Jim Bishop, who taught me everything I know about lacrosse.”
Tosca, who showed her ability to handle the press as well as public relations during the 1972 Team Canada-Soviet Union series, threw herself with great enthusiasm into the task of helping to promote the NLL.
Her first assignment was to prepare the press conference for the introduction of the Tomahawks to the news media. It was one of the best media receptions held in Toronto, starring Judy Holm, a girl of Indian heritage, who showed up in an Indian costume, head band, etc., and entered the reception to the tunes of Indian music piped into the room.
“I really do just odd little things,” Ms. Gazer said modestly. “You really shouldn’t be writing about me, because I prefer to remain in the background. It’s the owners, players and officials who deserve the writeups, not me.
“But I love what I’m doing. If everybody is satisfied with the arrangements, I’m very happy. I admire the players and their dedication to the game. They’re not playing for money, they’re playing because they love the game. They must love it, because sometimes they don’t get home from an out-of-town trip until 4 am and they have to get up at 6 am to go to work. You have to love the game in order to do that.”
If the players love lacrosse, Tosca loves being involved in it. If you were to go to Maple Leaf Gardens a couple of hours before game time, you’d find Tosca examining the nets for holes, checking team lineups for changes, supplying the press with photographs and statistics, making certain the owners and the visiting team have their allocated tickets ready and a dozen of other chores.
“I know I don’t have to check the nets for holes, because the referees do it before the game anyway,” she says. “But I would feel sort of embarrassed if the referees found the holes. I’d sooner find it myself and get it fixed. I just like to see things running smoothly.”
Tosca was brought up that way by her parents who came to Canada from Berlin 20 years ago when she was knee-high to a grasshopper. Her schools, first St. Basil’s, then St. Joseph’s College and Teachers’ College, encouraged her in her efficient ways, which reflects in her working habits.
Ms. Gazer loves sports, mainly hockey, football, tennis and more recently lacrosse. But she also has other hobbies such as reading and traveling.
“I love to read,” she says. “I prefer Russian authors and my favorite is Dostoyevski. As for traveling, I consider it my university education. I think a person can learn an awful lot by traveling. I’ve been all over Europe. I visited North America and Mexico and I hope to go to South America next year. And on each trip I learned a lot about the country, its people and culture. I really love it.”
On her trip to South America next year, she might teach the natives something about—lacrosse.