Page 1

a new home for ubc rugby

bob was here

big block club

locker room

Blue;Gold g ot h u n d e r b i r d s. c a

Fa l l 2 0 1 2

We’re committed to athletics. At TELUS, we believe all young Canadians deserve the opportunity to enrich their lives through sport and realize their athletic and academic goals. That is why are proud to support the TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast. Every customer helps us give where we live. Thank you.

Š TELUS 2011 11_00486

Blue;Gold fa l l 2 0 1 2

Editor Don Wells Assistant Editor Steve Tuckwood

Blue;Gold the lineup

Designer Sharm Thiagarajah Photography M  artin Dee bob frid Richard Lam

BLUE+ GOLD is published twice a year by the UBC Department of Athletics and is distributed


free of charge to UBC Alumni and friends. Opinions expressed in the magazine do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of Athletics or the University.

Address correspondence to: The Editor UBC Department of Athletics


272 – 6081 University Blvd. Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1


email to advertising rates Matthew Tan

; departments

Business Development Officer 604.822.2532

UBC Athletics contacts General Inquiries 604.822.2503


Message from thunderbird athletes’ council


locker room


big block club

BLUE+GOLD Editor 604.812.5613 War Gym Box Office 604.827.4547 Group Tickets 604.822.3094 Development Office 604.822.1972 Sponsorship 604.822.2532 Address Changes 604.822.8921

; features

5 a new home for ubc rugby 10

bob was here

Development Office

UBC Department of Athletics 272 – 6081 University Blvd. Vancouver, BC, Canada V6T 1Z1 On the Cover }

Scores, news & event info:

Bob Philip stands on the rugby field in front of the building site of what will soon be the Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion, the most recent addition to the new athletic facilities on south campus.

c o ve r p h o t o : ma r t i n d ee

Volume 8, Issue 2 • Printed in Canada by RR Donnelley Canadian Publications Mail Agreement #41473026





Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to:


FA L L 2 0 1 2

Message from Thunderbird Athletes’ Council


ach team representative on the Thunderbird Athletes’ Council is well aware that a great many people have taken an interest in varsity athletics at UBC over the years, and in actively supporting us to pursue our academic goals while maintaining our commitments to competitive sport. It is particularly encouraging to witness the various ways in which a growing number of our alumni demonstrate that their memories of being UBC Thunderbirds and their passion for sport haven’t diminished since graduation. With that in mind, I think the time is right to convey some special messages of gratitude - three of them to be exact - on behalf of all current UBC Thunderbirds. First, I want to thank Bob Philip for his many contributions over the past 20 years in which he served as UBC’s director of Athletics and Recreation, and for demonstrating an obvious commitment to advancing the interests of student-athletes across Canada. Second, our thanks go out to our university’s president, Professor Stephen Toope, for currently lending his time and leadership to exploring


BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

fundamental changes to our national university sport system. Third, I want to thank the growing number of alumni and friends whose generosity and involvement in recent years have transformed our campus athletic facilities, created new teams, and generated scholarship endowments that very recently topped $10 million. Thank you too for attending special events like the TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast or the Big Block Awards and Sports Hall of Fame Banquet; for playing in our alumni golf tournaments; for providing scholarships; for helping out as assistant coaches; for being mentors and opening career doors, and for coming to Thunderbird athletic events and games. Rest assured that you have truly started evolutions at UBC. We don’t always have opportunities to let the people who support us know that we deeply appreciate their efforts and their passion. But we do. Thanks from all of us. Laura Thompson President Thunderbirds Athletes’ Council

A New Home

for UBC Rugby


thletes and fans will soon enjoy the new home of UBC rugby teams at the $2.7 million Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion, scheduled to open early in the new year. Located near West 16th Avenue and East Mall and overlooking the Arthur Lord and Frank Buck fields, the Pavilion will feature change rooms, offices, storage space, and bleacher seating for 300 spectators along with a much-needed clubhouse lounge for alumni, students and sport groups. “Having this facility will showcase our sport,” says UBC men’s rugby general manager Spence McTavish. “More importantly, it will bring alumni, current UBC players and rugby fans together.” The facility is named in honour of former Thunderbird player and UBC Commerce alumnus and member of the BC Rugby Hall of Fame, Gerald McGavin, who generously donated one million dollars towards the project. Combined with the McGavin gift, the project has received a total of $1.8 million from private donors as part of UBC’s Start an Evolution campaign.

“Some of my fondest memories from my athletic career come from playing rugby,” says McGavin, who is Director and President of McGavin Properties Ltd. and a Member of the Order of Canada. “I learned what it takes to work as a team, the value of sportsmanship, and at the same time, I forged relationships that lasted a lifetime. This facility is the opportunity for the next generation of rugby players to do the same.” Initial financial and organizational leadership for the project was provided by former UBC rugby players Peter Bull, Andrew Hamilton, Greg Obertas, Keith Spencer, Peter R. Mortifee, Donald Carson and family, Rob McCarthy and Andrew Bibby. UBC Athletics and Recreation provided additional funding totalling $700,000 while another $200,000 has been committed by the British Columbia Rugby Union as part of a 10-year community partnership with UBC, which will give the BCRU access to the new pavilion and fields for its youth, developmental, grassroots and high performance programs. ;

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD



Kevin Bieksa and other locked out NHL players pose with UBC Thunderbirds after a recent friendly contest that netted $200,000 for Canucks children’s charities.

Defending CIS champ T-Birds still strong

All four defending CIS Champion UBC teams are clearly showing success indicators as the sun sets on the fall season. As we go to press, the Thunderbird women’s field hockey team has completed an unbeaten season and the five-time CIS champion women’s volleyball team was the unanimous firstpick among coaches in a conference-wide vote prior to the start of the regular season schedule. Equally of note, while not defending CIS champions, the record at publication time shows that 2012 has been a banner year for both UBC soccer teams in conference play, with playoff spots handily clinched and the men’s team’s near-perfect record to date blemished only by a draw on the road against Alberta. This past summer was a particularly fruitful recruiting year for UBC’s men’s and women’s swim teams, which both resumed familiar spots as national champions back in March and then helped send eight competitors (counting three recent alumni) to the London Olympic Games, including bronze medalist Brent Hayden. Swim team alumni will also be interested to know that Patricia Pierse has followed her four older sisters, Hanna, Grainne, Fionnuala, and former world record holder Annamay, to UBC. The youngest of the sisters was named Alberta’s Youth Swimmer of the Year in 2011 with the Edmonton Keyano Swim Club where she trained under former UBC coach Derrick Schoof. In that year Patricia was part of Canada’s team at


BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

the Junior World Championships in Lima, Peru, where she finished 14th in her specialty event, the 200-metre breaststroke. For the most current team results, standings, statistics, game reports, photos and upcoming event information, please visit

Bieksa’s buddies, Birds serve starved hockey fans

Bieksa’s Buddies, a team comprised of NHL players led by Kevin Bieksa, overcame a fourgoal deficit in the third period to defeat the UBC Thunderbirds 8-7 in a charity hockey game before over 5,000 hockey deprived fans October 17 at the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. The event was an appropriate culmination of a unique pre-season training regimen for UBC players, one that included weekly practises with locked-out Vancouver Canucks players. In addition to Bieksa, those that took part in the charity game included Daniel and Henrik Sedin, Dan Hamhuis, Manny Malhotra, Max Lapierre and Cory Schneider. Prior to the opening faceoff, a cheque for $200,000 was presented to Canuck Place Children’s Hospice, The Canucks Autism Network and The Canucks Family Education Centre, half of which came from gate receipts and the rest through a matching donation from Vancouver musician Michael Buble.

Left: Outside hitter Lisa Barclay. Middle: UBC field hockey players celebrate recent Canada West Championship. Right: Canada West Player of the Year Gagan Dosanjh.

Offensively the Thunderbirds were led in the friendly by Nate Fleming and Ben Schmidt with a pair of goals each. UBC coach Milan Dragicevic assigned a period each to his three goaltenders, with Kelowna’s Kraymer Barnstable stopping all seven shots he faced in the middle frame. “This game rates right at the top of my career because it was such a cool experience to be able to play for the charities and to play with the professional guys we’ve been practicing with,” said Kraymer afterwards. “I’ll probably never experience anything like that for the rest of my career. It’s definitely a great memory.” The gutsy performance of his players appeared to strengthen Milan’s bullish outlook on his team’s chances this season, which began with the Thunderbirds sporting a respectable 4-1-1 record after going 2-2 on the road against Calgary and Regina and then sweeping Lethbridge in their home opener. He also appreciated the opportunity to market the university game to a large contingent of local hockey fans. “The biggest thing that everyone wanted was to see 5,000 people walking away having had fun and to showcase how good our hockey is and how good our players are,” said Milan. “I thought we did that, I thought our guys put on a great show.” Interesting footnote, Thunderbird hockey players are putting in a great show academically as well. A total of nine from last year’s roster were recently named CIS Academic All Canadians for the 2011-12 academic year, having maintained a GPA in excess of 80 per cent in full-time study.

UBC’s new women’s hockey coach has recruiting touch

Among his numerous responsibilities at Syracuse, UBC’s new women’s hockey coach Graham Thomas served as the team’s recruiting coordinator, and it looks like he must know his stuff. Shortly after

his arrival at UBC, former national team goalie Danielle Dube approached him about a coaching position. But as it turns out, Graham urged her to consider returning to play after an extended hiatus in which she started a family and followed her father’s footsteps as a professional firefighter. After a bit more talk, the mother of two decided to return to competitive hockey as a member of this season’s Thunderbirds and is by all appearances off to a great start with a 2-1 record in her first three starts and a 1.34 goals-against average, third best in the league. “As we spoke further, we could see she still had a passion to play, so we encouraged her to come out to training camp and see how she felt and looked,” says Graham. Danielle played on the Canadian national team from 1994 to 1998, winning a gold medal at the 1997 World Championships, and then re-joined the team from 2000 to 2002. She then played for a season with the Long Beach Ice Dogs of the West Coast Hockey League, and became just the third female goaltender to start in net for a professional men’s team. Graham began his women’s hockey coaching career in 2007 as head coach of the women’s hockey team at the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) and then went to Syracuse University, where he was an associate coach since the team’s inaugural season in 2008-09. In his playing days, he suited up for the Drayton Valley Thunder of the Alberta Junior Hockey League, and in 1998-99 skated for Mannheim Jung Adler in Germany.

Whitecaps FC and National Soccer Development Centre announced for UBC

UBC’s Thunderbird Park will soon be the home of a new $23 million training facility which will form the centerpiece of the proposed National Soccer Development Centre (NSDC) – a new athletic facility to be shared by Vancouver Whitecaps FC, continued on page 8

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD



continued from page 7

the University and community. Formed out of a partnership between UBC, the Government of British Columbia and Vancouver Whitecaps FC, the centre will include two new artificial fields, three new refurbished or improved grass fields and a field house, all scheduled to be completed in advance of the 2015 FIFA Women’s World Cup. The centre will serve UBC’s varsity teams and UBC REC athletes, Whitecaps FC men’s, women’s, and residency teams, and Canada’s men’s, women’s, and youth national teams, while more than 50 per cent of the field time will be dedicated to community programs. Community members currently make more than 700,000 visits to Thunderbird Park annually to participate in athletic activities and events, a number which UBC expects to grow significantly through this and other facilities. The new partnership that was developed as part of the UBC Start an Evolution campaign.

2012 a bumper year for Thunderbird Academic All Canadians

An all-time record total of 113 UBC Thunderbirds were recently honoured as Academic All Canadians for the 2011-12 academic year at an annual breakfast reception hosted by UBC’s president, Professor Stephen Toope. The most recent year’s totals represented significant year-over-year improvement over an already respectable 103 in 2010-11 and 99 in 2009-10. The distinction of Academic All Canadian requires students to maintain a minimum GPA of 80 per cent in a course of full-time study while also competing as a member of a varsity team. Professor Toope commended the students for representing not only the largest single-season number of Academic All Canadians in UBC history, but also for posting the highest-ever overall team GPAs. It was evidently a proud moment for associate athletic director Theresa Hanson, who provided heartfelt congratulations and introduced the head coach of each team who then called forward their respective honourees. Theresa herself received a meaningful distinction this past summer when the CIS named her Canada’s Chef de Mission for the 2013 Universiade (World University Games) this coming July in Kazan, Russia. ;


BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

Left: Professor Stephen Toope presents Academic All Canadian certificate to swimmer Grainne Pierse. Middle: rugby alumnus Gerald McGavin enjoys talking with scholarly students. Right: Kevin Hanson announces names of men’s basketball Academic All Canadians.

Upcoming Canada West Regular Season

Home games Men’s and Women’s Basketball (at War Memorial Gym)

Calgary Nov. 30 Lethbridge Dec. 1 Brandon Jan. 18 Regina Jan 19

W) 6:00 pm W) 5:00 pm W) 6:00 pm W) 5:00 pm

M) 8:00 pm M) 7:00 pm M) 8:00 pm M) 7:00 pm

Men’s Hockey (at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre)

Regina Nov. 30 Regina Dec. 1 Calgary Jan 4 Calgary Jan 5

7:00 pm 7:00 pm 7:00 pm 7:00 pm

Women’s Hockey (at Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre)

Alberta Nov. 23 Alberta Nov. 24 Regina Nov. 30 Regina Dec. 1

7:00 pm 7:00 pm 7:00 pm 7:00 pm

Men’s and Women’s Volleyball (at War Memorial Gym)

Regina Nov. 23 Regina Nov. 24 Winnipeg Jan. 11 Winnipeg Jan. 12

W) 6:00 pm W) 5:00 pm W) 6:00 pm W) 5:00 pm

M) 8:00 pm M) 7:00 pm M) 8:00 pm M) 7:00 pm

For more information on all Thunderbird teams, visit


News ; notes from the big block club

In spite of losing half a lung to cancer while swimming for the Thunderbirds, Debbie Collins (inset) became an accomplished open water swimmer. She and husband Shane, pictured training in English Bay, swam the Strait of Gibraltar in 2007.

Thunderbird alumni - 3; Cancer – 0

“I don’t know what’s going on at the cellular level, but I feel great,” said Peter Twist over the phone recently from an airport on his way to Chicago to make a corporate presentation that included mention of his apparent come-from-behind victory over cancer. Recently featured in Blue and Gold, the former Thunderbird hockey defenceman and strength and conditioning coach for the Vancouver Canucks is back on the road and in higher demand than ever for his presentation skills and expertise. After waging unspeakably arduous radiation and chemo treatments for stage four cancer in his neck and head earlier this year, he customized a presentation partially based on the experience, one that was attended by a crowd of 3,000 at the closing ceremonies of the Canfitpro International Fitness Conference last August in Toronto. “It’s tailored for athletes and achievement oriented people, and it focuses on unlocking your potential through overcoming hurdles. In other words, how to be your best when your very best is needed.” Twister says he has broken all the rules during his post-treatment recovery period, and has pretty much resumed the rigorous fitness regimen that helped make him a pioneer in the business of strength and conditioning as founder of Twist

Conditioning Inc. A post-hockey convert to downhill skiing, chances of spotting him on the Grouse Grind are pretty good with the snow season just around the corner. Men’s basketball alumni may have heard by now that Randy Nohr, UBC assistant coach from 2005 to 2010, had two surgical procedures in October to remove a couple of cancerous spots and lymph nodes. Here too the news is good, as recent CT scans revealed no new cancerous areas. As we go to press, Randy is recovering from surgery and will soon see an oncologist who will review his file to determine any subsequent course of action. Head coach Kevin Hanson has kept alumni and friends of the team informed concerning Randy’s progress, and everyone is looking forward to seeing him back in War Memorial Gym one of these nights soon. Although it was many years ago that Debbie Collins (nee Carlow) was diagnosed with lung cancer, her story continues to be an amazing one. Her illness struck while she was an undergraduate science student and swimming for the Thunderbirds under coach Jack Kelso. After having half of a lung continued on page 16

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD


10 BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012


was here BY Don Wells


Philip arrived at UBC from Montreal’s Concordia University on July 15, 1992 to take over as Director of Athletics and Recreation. Exactly 20 years to the day later, he walked out of his War Memorial Gym office for the last time. Under his watch, UBC Thunderbird teams claimed 50 CIS championships, taking over the number one position in Canada for the most alltime national crowns. He also brought unprecedented growth to almost every aspect of UBC’s varsity sport and campus recreation program. And after decades of effort, he may have finally shaken Canadian university sport out of its comfy slumber. }} fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD


The rich wood paneled dining room of downtown Toronto’s Barberian’s Steakhouse has long been a Hogtown haunt for many of Canada’s hockey elite. And so it was on an evening in 1973 when a handful of university coaching legends and future NHL helmsmen gathered to discuss matters over the Elm Street institute’s famous cuts. The assembled included the University of Alberta’s Clare Drake and Toronto’s Tom Watt, whose teams had combined for all but two of the national university championships contested to date. Others included Calgary’s George Kingston and UBC’s Bob Hindmarch. Also present that night was Bob Philip, a youthful but already well respected head coach at Montreal’s Sir George Williams University. The most pressing subject was the shared desire to create a new national university hockey league in which substantial athletic scholarships could be awarded to players as a means of upping the calibre of play and the interest of hockey fans across the country. The idea was subsequently approved by the majority of the 29 Canadian university hockey head coaches. Later that summer it was presented in the form of a motion at the AGM of the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union. Sparks immediately flew as athletic directors from smaller schools with little history of success protested on the grounds that the new league represented an elitist departure that upset the traditional equilibrium among CIAU member institutions. Philip laughs when recalling the shenanigans and outrage that resulted in the motion being defeated, but still doesn’t hold back when expressing decades of frustration over Canadian university sport leaders’ reticence to consider practical and philosophical changes that he and others have long argued could enhance the competitive landscape, not to mention the quality of the student-athlete experience. Most of all, Philip says, the annual flow of so many of the best and brightest Canadian student-athletes to American universities offering significant scholarship support has gone on for far too long. “Athletic directors all over Canada will tell you that the CIS is a student-athlete centered organization,” he says. “But when you suggest changing the rules so that we can provide them with more financial support so that they can stay in Canada, the majority will say ‘oh no, we can’t do that.’”

12 BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

He offers a range of reasons for the opposition of his peers. Some, he says, have long harboured doubts over their ability to raise sufficient money to create athletic scholarship endowments. Not surprisingly, at the onset of Ontario’s 1990’s economic downturn, even some of the larger Ontario schools argued that the optics of raising money for athletic scholarships were not good when core academic missions were at risk. But even in good times, Philip insists, the traditional norm among Canadian university athletic directors has been to seek universal consensus on any and all issues in order to eliminate barriers to entry for any institution, including schools with minimal commitments to their programs or to competitive excellence. In hindsight, he says, the defeat of the motion to create a new hockey “super-league” in 1973 was the first indicator of a national university sport organization bent on making provisions for its least committed participants, and at the same time resisting the division of leagues into competitive tiers. But that didn’t diminish his resolve to think big and to do whatever could be done in his 24 years as a university athletic director to ensure that his coaches and teams had the tools for success. On that score, he led from early experience, having played hockey for Sir George Williams in an era when the Georgians won numerous Quebec conference championships. One year after the steakhouse summit, he coached his former team to its first appearance in the national championship final, narrowly missing out on the 1974 CIAU title in a 6-5 overtime loss to Waterloo. Shortly thereafter, Sir George Williams merged with Loyola College to form Concordia University, which provided him with an opportunity to put his leadership skills to work by helping to develop a new and well regarded Department of Athletics and Recreation, and to pursue his ambitions for a bigger and better Canadian university sport system. Described as “a mover and a shaker who never gets rattled” by influential Sir George Williams alumnus and provincial politician George Springate, Philip was named Concordia’s athletic director in 1987 and elected CIAU president in 1990. While serving a term as president-elect, he lived up to Springate’s assessment. After garnering the support of an initially reluctant CIAU Board of Directors, he and then president Bob Corran of the University of Calgary undertook a bitter shake-up of the CIAU office in Ottawa, which resulted in the departure of its popular and long-serving executive director Bob Pugh. Pugh was replaced by Mark Lowry, an astute young administrator and an up-and-comer in international sport circles who cooperated effectively in administering overdue changes to antiquated processes and helping to modify the CIAU governance structure. “The biggest concern Bob and I had at that time was that we were losing so much of our greatest resource, student-athletes, to the United States,” recalls Corran, who ironically left Canada himself in

1997 to become athletic director at the University of Minnesota-Duluth. “Another problem was that there was a lack of respect on the part of the national sport governing bodies for the CIAU, and there was no effort to work cooperatively with them. Marketing and promoting university sport didn’t seem to be a priority either. It was almost seen as something we weren’t supposed to do.” Currently the athletic director at the University of Vermont, Corran conveys noticeable admiration for Philip when describing the uphill road they faced together. “He was always looking to shake things up, always telling people that we can be better than we are. From the very beginning he struck me as a guy who was going to get things done.” With Philip, Corran and Lowry leading the way, what followed in the early 1990’s was almost without question the most progressive era in CIAU history. New vice-president portfolios were created in order to achieve key strategic objectives that included enhancing Canada’s participation in the World University Games; forging stronger linkages with national sport governing bodies; refining the bid process and the staging of national championships; attracting blue-chip national sponsors, and expanding national television coverage of playoffs and championships. To top it off, the ultraprestigious BLG Awards honouring Canada’s top male and female athletes of the year emerged during this time and quickly became a powerful symbol of a reconstituted organization that shortly thereafter rebranded itself as Canadian Interuniversity Sport. It was also during Philip’s term as CIAU presidentelect that UBC began to search for a candidate to replace its affable, outgoing athletic director, Bob Hindmarch, whose cardiologist recommended an indefinite time-out following a close call with destiny a year earlier. What was explained to Philip and other candidates was that the University was looking for somebody with entrepreneurial skills to put the department on more solid financial footing and become less reliant on general operating funds. With help from the search committee, UBC vice president Student Services K.D. Srivastiva learned that Philip had been instrumental in raising money for a football stadium at Concordia, and had a particular knack for working with sponsors and eliciting support from alumni. As it turned out, when the offer finally came for Philip to become UBC’s director of Athletics and Sport Services, the timing was right. At 47 years-old and having lived his entire life in Montreal, he was ready for a change. “I didn’t like what was happening politically and economically in Quebec at that time,” he says. “So I began to think about alternatives. Of all the schools in Canada, the University of Toronto probably had the most cache at that time, but UBC looked pretty good too, especially from a facilities perspective. At Concordia, our intramurals program was operating in an old YMCA building.”

“He was always looking to shake things up, always telling people that we can be better than we are. From the very beginning he struck me as a guy who was going to get things done.” – Dr. Bob Corran, athletic director, University of Vermont

“Bob works like he plays hockey, always with his head up and his eye on the goal, and nothing deters him or gets in his way. This dogged determination allows him to succeed where others fail. He is one very talented and unique individual, and we will miss him.” – Dr. David McLean LL.D., former chair, UBC Board of Governors

“A s an athlete I always knew he was committed to our team’s success, and that he would do whatever it took for us to be the best. We knew he was in our corner, fighting with us for every win. His passion made me proud to be a Thunderbird.” – Jama Mahlalela, alumnus, director of player development, Toronto Raptors

“Bob’s vision was critical to the success of UBC’s varsity programs in many ways. Among the ones I most value are supporting full time assistant coaches and working with key supporters, especially Marty Zlotnik, to build the vision and ongoing success that is the TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast. In these and other ways, Bob set the bar high.” – Doug Reimer, women’s volleyball coach

“He allowed us flexibility in leading our programs in a manner that fit our coaching styles and was comfortable evaluating our performance by the product that we put on the playing field. He also made significant strides in connecting with donors, alumni and community partners to enhance our athletic facilities and grow our scholarship base. His accomplishments and impact have been vast and much appreciated.” – Deb Huband, women’s basketball coach

“A visionary with the ability to see things through, Bob has always had the attitude that we can always be better – better for our student-athletes, better for our coaches and better for university sport. Thanks Bob!” – Theresa Hanson, associate director, Department of Athletics and Recreation

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD


remember the president, David Strangway, telling me ‘you’ll be fine,’” says Philip. “It turns out he was right.”

While UBC proved to be everything he had anticipated in the early going, challenges soon arose. Admission requirements steadily escalated in stride with provincial population growth, resulting in increasing numbers of hitherto academically qualified student-athletes being turned away by a beleaguered registrar’s office. The admission problem was later compounded when the provincial government froze tuition fees, further compromising the University’s efforts to accommodate the growing influx of students, not to mention the financial support it was able to provide to fund athletics and recreation. The only viable solution appeared to be converting the Department of Athletics and Sport Services into a stand-alone ancillary unit that could utilize its assets to conduct business and increasingly generate the bulk of its financial requirements as the University reduced funding incrementally over a five-year period. Faced with an annually mounting fiscal challenge, Philip put the department’s programs and facilities to work to raise the balance required for its annual operating budget, which was and remains the highest in Canada due to the necessity of air travel for a good portion of out-of-town competition. One of his first thrusts at raising money was to direct staff to aggressively market indoor and outdoor athletic facilities to outside users, including concert promoters, trade show organizers and community sport groups, and to expand the scope and scale of community summer sport camps. The results were encouraging, particularly in the case of steadily increasing net revenue from sport camps and memberships at the UBC Tennis Centre. Next he convinced student leaders to lend their support by way of a nominal increase in the Alma Mater Society’s annual contribution to the department. The AMS agreed to a per-student increase of three dollars per-year for five years, but only if students approved by way of a referendum, with a caveat that a minimum of 3,500 votes be cast. Well aware of what was at stake in the spring of 1998, coaches and student-athletes alike breathed a collective sigh of relief when an AMS vice-president appeared at the Big Block Athletic Awards banquet to share the news that the referendum had passed. “When we became an ancillary department, I

14 BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

With operating funds now more secure, Philip turned his attention to fulfilling his ambitions to provide more financial support for student-athletes to stem the ongoing flow to US schools, and began to speak openly for the first time about seeking competitive alternatives outside the financially restricted confines of the CIS. A handful of active alumni and friends agreed that UBC should seek to address the ongoing brain-drain by becoming the first Canadian school to join Division I of the NCAA, and discussions began about the prospects of raising large amounts of money for athletic scholarships. Thunderbird Golf Society president Marty Zlotnik proposed a plan to stage a massive $200 a plate breakfast with the proviso that the University match all proceeds to create an endowment. UBC’s then president, Martha Piper, applauded the strategy and agreed to the matching proposal for a three-year period. The annual TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast made its debut in 1999 at the Vancouver Exhibition and Conference Centre, with all 1600 tickets being sold. The resulting net profit of just over $500,000 in its inaugural year instantly qualified the event as the most successful fundraising effort for athletic scholarships in Canadian university history. It was a triumphant moment for Philip, who drew audible approval from the enormous early morning crowd when he firmly stated: “the CIS owes it to students to change in a way that puts them first.” The new millennium saw further growth and evolution across the spectrum of varsity sport and recreation at UBC. Its intramural sports program, long regarded as one of the most comprehensive in North America, continued to thrive in the new Student Recreation Centre, completed in 1998. UBC’s baseball team was revived thanks in part to alumni, and within a short period of time produced major league ace Jeff Francis. Women’s rugby and hockey teams were also formed and eventually began to compete under the auspices of the CIS with fulltime coaches. Full-time assistant coaches also grew in number on several teams and helped to produce escalating numbers of conference and national champions. UBC’s swim teams utterly dominated Canadian university competition and its coaches worked cooperatively with Swim Canada to establish UBC as a national training centre. There was even relief from skyrocketing admission requirements when the Faculty of Arts became the first to adopt a broad-based admissions policy. The willingness of faculties to consider a wider range of criteria among first-year applicants coincided fortuitously with Philip’s appointment of soccer coach Dick Mosher as the department’s academic advisor. A full professor in the School of Human Kinetics (now Kinesiology), Mosher was highly effective in working with coaches, deans and the registrar’s office to ensure that meritorious athlete applicants were not inadvertently overlooked.

At the same time, Philip’s appointment of development staff helped to engage a growing number of alumni who were becoming increasingly intrigued by the advancements and success of the Thunderbirds teams. A plethora of alumni-driven initiatives resulted in a new boathouse for rowing teams, a new track and all-weather fields on the south campus and at Thunderbird Stadium. A partnership with the Vancouver Olympic Organizing Committee and a substantial gift from alumnus and BLG Awards founder Doug Mitchell brought the construction of the new 7,000 seat Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. More recently, the department’s collaborative efforts confirmed plans for future facilities developments, including the Gerald McGavin Rugby Pavilion currently under construction, a new Aquatics Centre, and the recently announced $23 million National Soccer Development Centre that will open in 2015 thanks to a partnership between UBC, the provincial government and Vancouver Whitecaps FC. And at last count, the TELUS Millennium Scholarship Breakfast and other alumni driven fundraising initiatives have pushed athletic scholarship endowments over the $10 million mark. By all accounts Philip had much to be pleased about as he entered the final innings of his career, but there was yet one thing that still stuck in his craw. In spite of so many improvements and the success of teams, the stark reality remained that few people from the wider community seemed to care. Or if they did, they weren’t showing it by attending UBC Thunderbird events in the numbers he had always hoped for, which strengthened his resolve to explore competitive options within a decidedly different milieu and sport culture. His efforts to pry open the doors to the NCAA finally paid off in January 2008 when NCAA Division II members voted 257-9 in favour of a 10-year pilot program to accept applications from Canadian schools, but with an ominous requirement that new members undertake an academic accreditation process, one that could take up to seven years and over a million dollars to complete. Before deciding whether to proceed with an application, UBC president, Stephen Toope called for in-depth consultations with the entire university community, the results of which were evenly divided, with strong opinions expressed on both sides. Faced with the unenviable task of making the final decision on a long-standing issue that had captured the attention of every university athletic department in Canada, the University president subsequently announced that UBC would not seek membership in the NCAA, but also emphatically stated that the status quo in Canadian university sport was no longer acceptable, and that he would personally become involved in leading a commitment to drive change in the CIS. “Sure, I was disappointed but at the same time I am encouraged by Stephen’s involvement and the progress he has already made,” says Philip, noting that UBC’s president has created a Presidential

Oversight Board of CIS and currently co-chairs a new Canada West Task Force to explore possibilities for change, including strategies to stem the flow of some of Canada’s top student-athletes to US schools. “He understands that this isn’t just about sport; it’s about enriching education through sport and providing unique learning opportunities for deserving students.” Having undoubtedly earned more than a footnote in the history of the UBC Vancouver campus, Bob Philip has begun an appointment as a senior advisor to UBC vice president Students, Louise Cowin on what the future might look like for UBC varsity sport and campus recreation, including new commitments to active living and wellness initiatives aimed at the wider campus community. He will also continue his long-standing international role as a technical delegate for ice sports to the World University Games Federation. Although never one for nostalgic reflection, he confesses that seeing student-athletes do well after graduation and then come back to attend games and events like the breakfast has been particularly satisfying, as has been the increasing support of alumni and friends and the competitive success of teams and coaches. “The high point was winning the 1997 Vanier Cup, and the low point was a year later when Casey died,” he says, recalling the still surreal loss of 39-year-old football coach Casey Smith to cancer almost exactly a year to the day after he led UBC students to a national football championship. “I would like to have seen what Casey would have achieved.” The other highlights of his 20-year run at UBC include seeing staff succeed in growing revenues and running the varsity program to triumphant conclusions on so many occasions, and seeing the University become increasingly supportive of what the department was doing, especially the efforts to enhance the experience and opportunities afforded to student-athletes. As for the future, his greatest hope remains for changes in the competitive landscape as a result of keeping more students in Canada, and for more people to care about their success and to want to be a part of it. Irrespective of what is on the horizon, Bob Philip says he is quite alright with letting others steer the ship from this point onward. For the time being, he can take heart in knowing that more people than ever before are now paying attention to the issues that affect close to 25,000 Canadian university athletes every year, and that matter as much and more to hundreds of thousands of parents and alumni. And if in the end an attitudinal sea change does occur, nobody in the know from Victoria to St. John’s will ever forget who made the first waves. ;

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD



News ; notes from the big block club continued from page 9

removed, she was told that competitive swimming was no longer possible. But, as it turned out, that prognosis didn’t hold water. After subsequently graduating from the UBC Faculty of Medicine, Debbie began to enter marathon open water swimming events and the rest is, well, you know, history. Among her incredible achievements, she set a yet-unbroken record for swimming the Strait of Georgia in 1995, the same year that her British ex-navy husband Shane Collins swam the English Channel. In later years, she and Shane became the first Canadians to swim from Spain to Africa, crossing the Strait of Gibraltar in 2007. Most recently, she won a race in 2011 from Alcatraz Island across San Francisco Bay to the mainland. After 20plus years of pounding it out on rough water, the sports medicine specialist has hung up her towel, but won’t rule out joining a relay team in the annual 10-mile Maui Channel Race – you know, something easy, just for fun.

Twenty-8-Group awards first scholarships

The Twenty-8-Group, featured in the spring 2012 edition of Blue and Gold, gathered together last month at Norman McKenzie House to present the first-ever scholarships that the diverse and distinguished women’s collective has pledged to award annually to 28 female student-athletes. Two members of each of the 14 UBC women’s teams received awards of $1,000 in recognition of achievements in academics and leadership. “I have a feeling that this is the beginning of something big and long-lasting,” said associate athletic director Theresa Hanson, who is one of the group of alumnae and non-alumnae who have committed to a longterm strategy to significantly enhance financial support for UBC female athletes. The initiative was sparked by John Foster, associate director Development and Alumni for UBC Athletics and Recreation, who says the members now number 44. Chaired by Rowing/Arts alumna Nancy Self, the Twenty-8-Group has set an interim target of 56 members in order to solidify annual support for 28 recipients.

Sultans of swing

2010 Bobby Gaul Memorial Trophy winner Cory Renfrew had a spectacular debut season as a full member of the Canadian Professional Golf Tour in 2012, beginning with a tie for second place in his home town of Victoria in the season-opening Times Colonist Island Savings Open. He won his first pro tournament on Canada Day with a playoff win over tour leader Matt Hill in the Syncrude Boreal Open in Fort McMurray, Alberta. Less than a month later he

16 BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012

Top: Twenty-8-Group members Jean Forrest and Nancy Self flank inaugural scholarship recipients Natalie Sourisseau and Caitlin Evans of field hockey team. Bottom: Golf alumnus Cory Renfrew had a sensational debut on Canadian Tour. Right: Former UBC football coach Frank Smith was roasted by a large crowd of former players back in September, many of whom are pictured at his 2012 induction into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame.

squared off against some of the world’s best golfers in the RBC Canadian Open, missing the cut by a mere stroke after back-to-back rounds of 70. He made seven of eight cuts on the Canadian Tour schedule and finished in third place in the Order of Merit with $41,436 in total earnings. In his UBC days, Cory received strength and conditioning coaching from Jason Glass, a UBC football player in the late 90s who returned to Point Grey in 2006 to serve for four seasons as strength and conditioning coach for Thunderbirds golfers. Jason is currently one of the world’s top golf strength and conditioning specialists. The founder and operator of Tour Performance Lab and Kinetica Golf Performance, the former T-Birds running back specializes in training rotary athletes, biomechanics, physical assessments and functional strength training. He is a consultant for many top players from the PGA Tour and the head of the Titleist Performance Institutes Fitness Advisory Board. Meanwhile, early 1990’s era Thunderbird golfer Kendal Yonomoto is well into a successful career as a swing coach to everyone from local juniors up to PGA tour players, including former world No. 1


News ; notes from the big block club

Coach Kev, and Nathan Yu is playing in Hong Kong. Meanwile, much loved alumnus and student-athlete leader Jama Mahlalela appears to be on the cusp of distinction in NBA ranks as director of Player Development for the Toronto Raptors Faithful Thunderbird baseball fans and alumni will likely know that Jeff Francis re-joined the Colorado Rockies on June 9 and made an immediate impression with his former team as the Rockies went 8-2 in his first 10 starts.The former T-Bird left-hander earned a 2-1 victory over the D-backs in the final game of the season. After the strong finish, Jeff heads into free agency but hopes to return to the Rockies. He made 24 starts in total for the year and went 6-7 with 76 strikeouts and a 5.58 ERA. After breaking in with the Rockies and being a key figure on the 2007 National League champion club, the former UBC Science student and Academic All Canadian was forced to undergo shoulder surgery that cost him the 2010 season. He played last season with the Kansas City Royals and began this year in Triple-A.

David Duval and Ryan Moore, whose play improved steadily after collaborating with Kendal back in March and culminated in his second tour victory last month in Las Vegas. Kendal spent much of the spring and summer travelling to PGA Tour events to work with Moore, who had seven top 10 finishes in addition to the recent victory. Thunderbirds hockey alumnus Mike Darnbrough was hired this past summer as golf coach at UBC’s Okanagan campus. Mike played hockey for Bob Hindmarch in the 1970’s before embarking on a teaching career in the Okanagan, including 14 years coaching the Kelowna Secondary Golf team, where his players notably included current LPGA Tour pro Samantha Richdale.


Basketball coach Kevin Hanson reports that a total of five very recent graduates are playing professional basketball at various points on the globe. Josh Whyte, 2010 CIS Player of the Year and brother of current T-Bird Jordan Whyte, has signed a professional contract with the London Lightning of the National Basketball League. Josh’s former UBC team mate Kamar Burke is training with the NBL’s Moncton Miracles, who drafted him in the first round this spring, making him the first Canadian taken. Meanwhile, Alex Murphy is currently playing in Germany and playing very well according to

A good number of the 47 Thunderbird graduates who were coached by Frank Smith and later played professional football in the CFL were among some 100 alumni and friends who gathered in September at the River Rock Resort to roast and toast the recent addition to the Builder category of both the BC Football and UBC Sport Halls of Fame. Former CFL pros Mark Nohra, Dave Kirzinger, Terry Cochrane, Leo Groenewegen, Pat Cantner, Kevin Konar, Mike Emery, Mike Bellefontaine, Gerry Dobrovolny and Pieter Vanden Bos were all eagerly on hand for what turned out to be a reverent but highly entertaining salute to Frank. About 10 former players and admirers took the podium, including chief event organizer Dan Smith and MC Michael Canic, to share stories, many of which included convincing imitations of Frank’s favoured phrases. Arguably, the top performance was turned in by 1997 Hec Crighton Trophy winner Mark Nohra. In the wake of a late-night incident following a non-conference tilt at San Francisco State, Mark recalled an evening practise back at UBC with the team being put through an extended and punishing drill in a driving rainstorm while Frank wandered among the gasping bodies softly crooning verse and chorus of I Left My Heart in San Francisco. David Sidoo extended his regrets on the evening owing to out of town business, but has gone to considerable lengths to convey his gratitude to Frank and to former Thunderbird defensive coordinator Bob Laycoe. Among other things, the former CFL continued on page 18

fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD



News ; notes from the big block club continued from page 17

defensive back and member of the 1982 Vanier Cup champion Thunderbirds provided a generous gift to create the new Smith and Laycoe Varsity Training Centre, named by David in honour of Frank and Bob’s pioneering commitment to rigorous strength and fitness training. The centre is exclusively for the use of varsity athletes and opened last year in the Doug Mitchell Thunderbird Sports Centre. Speaking of Doug Mitchell, the former CFL commish and BLG Awards founder has agreed to be guest speaker at the inaugural Thunderbird Football Association fundraising gala November 30 at the River Rock’s Show Lounge Theatre. Two weeks prior to that, Doug will be honoured when the UBC Alumni Association presents him with its annual Award of Distinction. He received word of his selection as this year’s honouree in the summer very shortly after his wife and UBC alumna Lois Mitchell was invested as a member of the Order of Canada. Former varsity soccer player and first aboriginal graduate of the UBC Faculty of Law, Alfie Scow, will also be honoured on the evening with the presentation of the Blythe Eagles Volunteer Leadership Award. A youthful Alfie was on hand in traditional mask and dress at a half-time ceremony of the 1948 UBC Homecoming football game when his father, Chief William Scow, officially granted authority to the University to use the Thunderbird name and image by presenting the original Coast Salish totem that stood for over a half-century in front of Brock Hall. The 2012 UBC Alumni Achievement Awards will be held at the Four Seasons Hotel on November 14. For more information on the event and award recipients, go to events/awards/. For information on the TFA gala, go to

Ever considered being a mentor?

Baseball alumnus and UBC Athletics and Recreation development coordinator Steve Bell-Irving has made good progress in his efforts to tailor a mentorship program that matches Thunderbirds alumni and supporters with student-athletes who are soon to graduate or just beginning careers in a similar or related field. Steve says that 19 athletes and 35 mentors have signed up so far, and that he expects to meet the goal of having 25 athletes and 50 mentors registered for the inaugural 2012-2013 year. For more information or to join the UBC Athletics Mentorship Program, please contact Steve at 604-822-6183 or by email at

18 BLUE ; GOLD fall 2012


Dan Elliott, a former Global television sports broadcaster and Thunderbirds linebacker from 1994 to 1998, joined the UBC Athletics and Recreation staff this past summer as manager, Media Relations. That’s Dan’s voice of experience you’ve been hearing over top of the video highlights that play on after each home football game. Welcome home Dan. Still on the subject of broadcasting, former Thunderbird swimmer and CIS gold medalist Callum Ng and women’s hockey alumna Haleigh Callison will call the action for UBC’s home hockey games on CITR 101.9 FM this year. Among other pursuits, Callum is taking courses in broadcast journalism at BCIT. Haleigh will take a break from the broadcast booth later this fall when she plays as an import for Kazakstan in two tournaments in Europe. Both Andrea Neil and May Brown wowed the crowd at this year’s BC Sports Hall of Fame Induction dinner. Separated in age by over half a century, May and Andrea were equally graceful and articulate in reacting to the honours bestowed on them before a huge crowd at the convention centre. A shoo-in inductee in the Athlete category, Andrea played soccer for UBC from 1988 to 1992 before going on to a long professional and international career that included four World Cup appearances. UBC’s women’s field hockey coach and teacher in the School of Physical Education from 1947 to 1955, the still amazing May received the WAC Bennett Award honouring her lifetime contributions as a leader and advocate of amateur sport. And if there was ever an award for an unsung sports hero in BC, UBC soccer alumnus Marc Rizzardo would have to be a contender for his work as athletic therapist extraordinaire. A member of the late Joe Johnson’s squad from 1974 to 1978, Marc was chief therapist for the Canadian medical team in the 2012 London Olympic Games, and managed the entire roster of physiotherapists, athletic therapists, chiropractors and massage therapists who tended to Canadian athletes. He went to London with experience gained by having the exact same role for the Canadian Olympic Committee at the Vancouver 2010 Olympic Winter Games and with Canada’s women’s Olympic soccer team in Beijing in 2008. Marc’s daughter Diane Rizzardo played soccer for five seasons with the T-Birds before graduating from the School of Kinesiology last spring. The 2011 YWCA Young Woman of Distinction nominee was a member of the first contingent of UBC studentathletes to take part in a Habitat for Humanity mission in El Salvador and is currently working as a programs assistant with SportMed BC. ;

-4°C 50°03.416’ N 122°56.011’ W



max: 1985m



max: 2019m

22°121.243’ N 176°12.854’ W


max: 1°C min: -8°C

max: 43km/h avg: 17km/h



1312m 31°08.154’ S 208°31.314’ E

22 km/h

Recon Instruments, a company building innovative eyewear, grew out of an entrepreneurial program at UBC. There are many opportunities at the University of British Columbia to donate, connect or get involved with almost any issue. To support thinking that can change the world, visit fall 2012 BLUE ; GOLD


Blue and Gold Fall 2012  

Blue and Gold Magazine for UBC Athletics and Recreation.