Grad Spotlight: Gord Watt (BA ’74; BEd ’76)

othersafter-nmidhight1We caught up with Gord Watt, who will play as part of “Before Midnight” and may be joined by some of the Glenridge Boys at Alumni Pub Night on Friday, Sept. 20. The band plays acoustic, traditional folk music, and will be sure to have you stomping the Mansion House floorboards for its entire set. As a member of different bands, Gord has played Montebello Park, the Port Dalhousie Folk Festival, and at the Niagara Artists Centre. In 2013, he will add Brock University Homecoming to his resume.

Q: What activities were you involved with at Brock?

A: I had a lot of fun at Radio Brock. I think one year I was the program director. My first gig was Monday morning at 8 o’clock. No one else wanted the early slot so I got to wake the place up every week. The station was in a closet in the corner of the DeCew residence.

Q: What is your most memorable experience at Brock University?

A: I have lots of those that I shouldn’t mention here. I guess other than graduating, I got great satisfaction in seeing a play that I wrote produced on stage. Later, I helped coach the Brock lacrosse team and our first trip to Nazareth College was a great Brock moment for those involved. We tied the NCAA Division III national champs 10-10.

Q: How has Brock changed your life?

A: I don’t know what my life would have been like if I hadn’t gone to Brock. Brock was fun. The saddest day was the day after graduation when it was over and I realized it was done and all flashed by so quickly. The five years I spent at Brock have always been part of my life. I never thought of myself any other way.

Q: What was your career/life path after graduating from Brock?

A: I first got hired as a jail guard (correctional officer). I went back to teacher’s college two years later. I taught and specialized in special education and English in four school boards and about 12 schools. I taught my last 10 years at West Park Secondary in St. Catharines, where I taught English and TV arts.

I have an honours degree in drama and a bachelor of education. I taught special ed., English and TV arts. I’ve been playing songs on my guitar since university days, so I guess that’s my artsy side.

I love sports and I coached lacrosse for 25 years. I coached other sports, too, but I had more success with lacrosse. I assisted the Brock lacrosse team for five years. I also had a couple Ontario championship high school teams. I was commissioner of CUFLA (Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association) and I’m the VP of training and education for the American Indoor Lacrosse Association. I guess that’s my jock side.

Q: Tell us about the Glenridge Boys?

A: John Horvatek made a stand-up bass in his basement so he, Jeff Hale and I thought we’d play acoustic, traditional-type music. I met Jeff at Brock in ‘73. Kirk Smith, a teaching colleague who played the fiddle, joined us shortly after. We recorded an album of original songs in ’96 with Bruce Andrews, Brad French and Ted Cooper. It features several songs about St. Catharines: “Queen Elizabeth Way”, “Carousel” and “Garro’s Song.” We played a concert every summer at Montebello Park for about 12 years. We played at NAC (Niagara Artist’s Centre), the Port Dalhousie Folk Festival and any outside afternoon venue we could find. We did the opening night for Brian Daniels’ “Club” when he opened that downtown.

Ted and Jeff hooked up and moved to Toronto and others drifted away so now Kirk and I go through tunes once a week in my basement. We do the odd gig to motivate our practice but we just like to get together and learn new songs. We do a duet called “Before Midnight” (because that’s when we want to get home).

Q: Do you keep in touch with any professors or fellow Brock alumni?

A: Yes. Maybe some will come to see us. I think most of us made our best friends at university. I see some of those people on a weekly basis. I see some every five to 10 years. We’re still great friends and have no problem finding things to talk and laugh about.

We’d like to thank Gord for his time, and we hope to see you at Alumni Pub Night. Come out and see the Before Midnight perform some of their old favourites and maybe some new ones as well.

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