By Jonathan Parsons and Shawn Hayward
The former hosts of Sports Centre and current hosts of Fox Sports One, Jay Onrait and Dan O’Toole returned to Newfoundland once again to officially close the 2014 Newfoundland and Labrador Winter Games in style.
© Ed Vincent photo
Dan O’Toole accepts a heart-shaped message from a young fan at the closing ceremonies on March 8.
The duo told The Packet the return was a natural decision for them based on their experience in Clarenville for the Kraft celebration tour.
“Well, when we came last time for the celebration tour, first of all we had a great time, we met a lot of great people here in Clarenville,” says Onrait.
“Specifically, we met one person named Jill Monk who was one of the organizers of the Kraft celebration tour stop and of these Winter Games as well.
And we became good friends with Jill and her husband, Paul, and when Jill asked us to be part of the closing ceremonies, we were more than happy to come down.”
The two were booked for the gig for quite some time now.
Onrait admits, “She actually asked us and we agreed to do it before we took the job in L.A. But, you know, we live up to our commitments, so we were excited to head back.
“It was a long day of travel from L.A. but it was definitely worth it, we’ve had a great time.”
O’Toole added a personal mantra of his.
“My motto in life is: When you’re invited to Newfoundland, you never say no.”
He says their experiences in Newfoundland are so positive because of its people.
When asked what the best part of Newfoundland is, he says, ”The hospitality! Hands down!
“Jay and I, we’ve seen a lot of this country, we’ve seen a lot of the world, and we always come away from Newfoundland saying they are the nicest, most down-to-Earth people who would give you anything in their home without even questioning it.”
The two have been exposed to their share of Newfoundland and Labrador culture, as well.
“We were at a kitchen party last night in Newfoundland, eating some scallops, eating crab, it was the perfect Newfoundland moment,” says O’Toole.
“Oh, we also had moose stew and it was phenomenal! Again, a very uniquely Newfoundland dish.”
Onrait says that the weather is a huge switch from Los Angeles, where they currently live.
“It’s a massive contrast, but at the same time, it feels like coming home in a lot of ways. It’s not like we’re from here, but we’re from Canada so we’re used to it being cold in March and not 20 degrees and sunny. It’s nice!
“It’s funny. We traveled all day and got to St. John’s about one in the morning. I’ve heard all these stories about how cold it had been here in Newfoundland for the past week but it felt great to get out of the stuffy airport to some real, Canadian air, you know? It felt really good.”
O’Toole says he spoke with his family back in southern California and he couldn’t believe the stark differences between the two locations.
“I had a perfect FaceTime moment with my family, they were on the beach in L.A., FaceTiming me, and then I was in my hotel room and showed them the snow-covered lake just outside our hotel room,” he says.
“So on the opposite sides of the country with two very unique moments, mine very Canadian. It was great.”
Whether they’re in Los Angeles or Newfoundland, Jay and Dan will always be beloved and very Canadian.