Winter Pursuit 2019

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University of Toronto

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education WINTER 2020 / VOL. 22, NO. 2


IMPROVING CAMPUS MENTAL HEALTH WITH PHYSICAL ACTIVITY There's an App for That Rehab tool helps concussion patients manage recovery

Expect to Win Inspiration from Raptors head coach Nick Nurse

Pulling Together Donors give Blues rowers two new shells


EXPLOSIVE CONTROL Lock-in and move with more energy.


WINTER 2020 / VOL. 22, NO. 2



4 Breaking Barriers

Janelle Joseph teaches class on race, Indigeneity and physical culture


Everywhere is a Gym Stay fit wherever you are

14 Beyond the Gridiron

Blues football player's summer in Rwanda

24 Finding Balance

Improving campus mental health with physical activity



32 Turning Hoops into Rings

Toronto Raptors head coach shares words of inspiration at U of T event

36 View from the Top

KPE's winning connection to the Toronto Raptors

48 All-Star Snyder Brothers Inducted into Hall of Fame



Editorial Comments

Publication Agreement Number:

Sarah Baker

ACE Services, Jelena Damjanovic, Anne Frazer, John Hryniuk, Charles Huang, Nick Iwanyshyn, Joel Jackson, Arnold Lan, Seyran Mammadov, Owen Mertens, Seed9, U of T Press, Jimmy Wang

P: 416-978-1663


Associate Editor Jelena Damjanovic

Art Direction and Design Joel Jackson


Pursuit is published twice a year by U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education.



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Message from the Dean

The measure of happiness


s winter sets in, it will be of comfort for many to think back to the summer, if not for the warmer temperatures, then for the phenomenal success of the Toronto Raptors, whose NBA championship win pulled all of Canada together. Our Faculty’s ties to the Raptors run deep and I am delighted to share with you in this issue of Pursuit some recent examples of this ongoing relationship, including the story of how the championship team was built, as told by the Raptors head coach himself, who spoke at a fundraising event hosted by the newly established Varsity Blues Basketball Excellence Program (BEP).

Universities across Canada are engaged in initiatives to support students’ mental health. Our cover story talks about the Faculty’s MoveU.HappyU program, launched in 2015 to help students increase their levels of physical activity to mitigate symptoms of mental illness. I am pleased to share that the program was recently expanded to include more students in more extensive programming - a feat made possible thanks to the synergies between our academic and sport and recreation divisions.

From breaking racial barriers to developing apps to help patients manage their concussions, our faculty continued to make important contributions to sport performance, health, safety and quality of life. And, our Varsity Blues athletes inspired us all with their athletic accomplishments, academic achievements and community work that spanned from Toronto, Canada, to Gisenyi, Rwanda. We are proud of our hard working, talented and dedicated students, faculty and staff. And, we are grateful to our alumni for encouraging and supporting their success. We could not do it without you and we thank you for your ongoing support. Sincerely

Ira Jacobs, Dean

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education


Field Notes If you like it put a ring on it: Varsity Blues basketball players Ellen Ougrinov and Fiorella Granda try on the Raptors championship ring.

Photo/ Seyran Mammadov

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Field Notes


Janelle Joseph brings discussions of race, Indigeneity and physical culture to the classrom


or a long time, Janelle Joseph didn’t consider becoming a professor because she didn’t see many racialized people who were faculty members at Canadian universities.

“I hadn’t really considered that before because there were almost no racialized professors in my entire undergraduate career,” she says. “I didn’t see myself represented in the professoriate.” Fast forward to today and Joseph has taken on a new role as an assistant professor at the Faculty. She teaches a class on race, Indigeneity and physical culture, and aims to break down barriers for her students. “One of the fundamental questions that drives me forward is: How do we open doors, how do we allow all people to see themselves represented in leadership, in the professoriate, in the community? “Many of my students have never had a Black professor before, so being at the front of the classroom has really been a privilege, knowing that I am changing perspectives and lives with my research and my presence and leadership.”


Joseph traces her interest in the sociology of sport to her childhood. Her father was an elite cricket player in his native Antigua, and her brother, Jamaal, signed with the Florida Marlins (now the Miami Marlins). Her fascination with gender, race and movement cultures grew as an undergraduate studying kinesiology at Western University. On an exchange to Victoria University in Melbourne, she met Chris Hallinan, a scholar of Indigenous studies and sport. He encouraged her to consider becoming a professor – and to study with some of the leading experts in sport sociology, including KPE’s Bruce Kidd and Peter Donnelly. Joseph did just that. She obtained a master’s in exercise science at KPE, working under Donnelly’s supervision on a project about cultural authenticity in martial arts. (She took an interest in the Brazilian martial art capoeira while in Australia.) “It was a really rich opportunity to be able to have conversations with people like Bruce Kidd, who was the dean at the time and had such a wealth of not only scholarly knowledge, but of personal connections and experiences,” she says. “You’d show up in his office and he’d pull out a book and say, ‘Here, read this.’” Photo/ Nick Iwanyshyn

Field Notes

“All students deserve to understand where people of different backgrounds are coming from and have an awareness of how they might contribute to changing the structures that are preventing full participation right now.” – Janelle Joseph Joseph also worked closely with Associate Professors Margaret MacNeill and Caroline Fusco. She found the experience so enriching, she decided to pursue a PhD in exercise science in the same department and with the same supervisor. This time she worked on a transnational project involving cricket and the Caribbean diaspora. She published a book on the subject in 2017. Near the end of her PhD studies, Joseph noticed a gap in the undergraduate curriculum – one that she might be able to fill. “We had a course on adapted physical activity, we had a course on gender and health, but there was nothing on multiculturalism, race, diaspora, globalization, transnationalism, cultural authenticity… all the subjects that I was so passionate about,” she says. Many students in the classes where she was a teaching assistant appeared interested in these ideas as well, she recalls. Those familiar with her research would ask her questions about these subjects after class. “For the most part, they were racialized students in our Faculty and it was important for them to be represented in the curriculum and learn about critical race theory,” she says. “But I think it’s important for all students, regardless of their family history or personal experience, to have a deeper understanding of these issues.” She developed a course called Race and Sport in Canadian Society, which explored critical race theory and multiculturalism. She later took a break from teaching to complete two postdocs, one at New Zealand’s University of Otago, researching multiculturalism and capoeira, and the other at the Ontario Tech University, exploring Afro-centric physical education. But she ultimately returned to Toronto to be closer to her family and resumed teaching at KPE.

At the same time, Joseph became a learning strategist at U of T’s Student Life and later its director of academic success. In 2017, she became assistant director of U of T’s Transitional Year Program (TYP), a bridging program for adults wanting to acquire qualifications for university. “I had an academic understanding of access and equity, but being at TYP really deepened my understanding of all the barriers that exist at universities that make it so difficult for some students to achieve success,” Joseph says. She believes those jobs helped her understand students’ needs and how she can contribute to physical cultural studies. The significance of Joseph’s course was reinforced by the findings of KPE’s task force on race and Indigeneity, which was inspired by the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. The expert panel’s recommendations included developing a course on “Indigenous issues/history, colonial history, equity, racialization and racism in the context of sport and physical activity” – one based on or complementing Joseph’s work. Joseph, then a sessional instructor, applied and was hired on a full-time tenure-track position. Her current course focuses on representation and exposure of racialized and Indigenous athletes, who are an often-neglected part of the Canadian sporting story. Another aspect of the course looks at the barriers and discrimination these athletes face. Joseph says she wants all her students – no matter their ambitions after university – to learn about the inequities facing people of different backgrounds. “Regardless of what field they’re in, they all deserve to understand where people of different backgrounds are coming from and have an awareness of how they might contribute to changing the structures that are preventing full participation — Jelena Damjanovic right now.” Pursuit | Winter 2020


Field Notes

If you’re hit, stop and sit.

Goldring Centre hosts provincial launch of concussion awareness campaign


he Ontario government has a simple message for amateur athletes, children and youth: If you’re hit, stop and sit.

The message is part of a concussion awareness campaign unveiled over the summer at the Faculty’s Goldring Centre for High Performance and Sport, where researchers have conducted significant research into the issue of concussions in sport and have helped influence policies aimed at their prevention. The campaign is tied to Rowan’s Law, a piece of concussion-safety legislation that Ontario passed unanimously in 2018 and is named after Rowan Stringer, a 17-year-old rugby player from Ottawa who died after suffering a fatal concussion. Following the announcement, Minister Michael Tibollo toured the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic, housed on the fourth floor of the Goldring Centre. The clinic has been treating sport-related injuries, including concussions, for over 80 years and benefits from the expertise


of staff and faculty, including Assistant Professor Doug Richards, the clinic's medical director and staff physician, Assistant Professor Michael Hutchison, director of the clinic's concussion program, and Associate Professor Lynda Mainwaring, who studies the psychological impact of concussions. The provincial awareness campaign includes a video featuring a young athlete who keeps taking hits to the head during soccer games and eventually collapses on the field. It’s followed by the message: “Don’t risk everything.” The ad has been playing in cinemas across Ontario and aired during the NBA Finals game between the Toronto Raptors and the Golden State Warriors, which drew a record TV audience. The Rowan’s Law awareness campaign encourages coaches, parents and players to move away from a culture that glorifies “warriors” who jump back in the game too soon after a concussion, urging them instead to recognize the serious nature of concussions and the time that is required to treat them.

Sandhya Mylabathula, a PhD candidate in the exercise science program at KPE, and her twin sister Swapna, who is pursuing a PhD degree in the Faculty of Medicine, were consulted on an Ontario policy on concussions that was implemented in public schools and was a precursor to Rowan’s Law. “There is so much that we can do for mandatory prevention, diagnosis and awareness and seeing some of our recommendations show up in Rowan’s Law is both exciting and timely,” said Sandhya. Professor Ira Jacobs, dean at KPE, said he was keen for the Faculty to host this event because it exemplifies what all universities should aspire to do. “That is to expose students to cuttingedge knowledge generated by scientists, but also to teach them to be leaders – to actually apply that knowledge, so that society can make informed choices about policy,” he said. — JD

Photo/ Jelena Damjanovic

Field Notes

There's an app for that KPE researcher develops mobile rehab tool to help concussion patients manage their recovery


ndividuals suffering from a concussion who lack the resources, time or knowledge to handle their condition expertly will soon have access to a low-cost path to recovery.

Michael Hutchison, an assistant professor at the Faculty, has developed a mobile rehabilitation tool called RHEA, named after the mother of Olympian gods and goddesses. The mobile tool, developed with support from UTEST, a U of T program that helps to commercialize research, draws on Hutchison’s clinical and research experience. He has found that starting graded aerobic exercise early following a concussion can speed up recovery and improve functional outcomes – more than just resting. “Despite such evidence, there still remains a lack of awareness and education regarding the initial medical management of concussion,” says Hutchison, who is director of the concussion program at the David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic. “The situation is further complicated by the fact that appointments with physicians and specialists occur approximately every one to two weeks, Photo/ iStock

leaving patients at times to navigate and manage their symptoms without having the required knowledge or skills to do so.” He believes mobile health technologies or apps have the potential to help fill this void, as they are well-suited to serve as platforms for the selfmanagement of various health conditions. “They are ubiquitous, have great computational capabilities and are commonly carried on the person. RHEA will utilize these benefits through novel machine learning algorithms that will leverage userreported feedback, as well as data acquired from the wearable technology, to provide users with recommended, personalized exercise programs over a three- to five-day period to assist with the rehabilitation process.” What is unique about RHEA is that it is not a static system, another implication found in its name, which etymologists say means to ground and flow, much like what patients are required to do when navigating the road to recovery. “Although RHEA’s starting point is grounded in well-established empirical evidence and clinical guidelines,

moving forward RHEA will benefit from the environment of Big Data,” says Hutchison, “and as the community of people using the app grows, we will leverage that feedback to fine-tune the exercise prescriptions for a wide variety of people and profiles.” Hutchison is looking forward to having the app available on both Apple and Android devices in the new year, following beta testing that is currently underway. Down the road, the plan is for RHEA to be tailored to health conditions beyond concussion, including post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety. “The benefit of structured and individualized exercise is a very promising, low-risk and cost-effective intervention,” says Hutchison. — JD Pursuit | Winter 2020


Field Notes

Fred VanVleet opens up about mental wellness at Goldring Centre


oronto Raptors point guard Fred VanVleet knows adversity. From grinding out summer leagues after missing the 2016 NBA draft to chipping a tooth in game four of the NBA finals, VanVleet has had mental toughness preached to him since he was five years old. But being told over and over again to be tough, to leave your emotions off the court, takes a toll on an individual’s mental wellness. “I was closed off for a long time,” VanVleet admitted during a panel talk he gave at the Faculty's Goldring Centre for High Performance sport in late October. The Varsity Blue's Basketball Excellence Program partnered with nonprofit organization Everyone has a Story to bring The Right Conversation to campus. Moderated by Dr. Corey Yeager, a psychotherapist for the Detroit Pistons, the talk featured VanVleet, Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach Brittni Donaldson, shoe designer Dominic Ciambrone, musician JP


Saxe, entrepreneur Jaclyn Genovese and Everyone has a Story founder and former Toronto Raptors Assistant Coach JD Dubois. “We started this panel process to normalize this conversation,” Dubois said, referring to the stigmatization of mental health. Dubois founded Everyone has a Story in 2016 out of Salt Lake City, Utah. The organization’s mandate is to “promote compassion for others one story at a time.” This involves social outreach programs, like the Lunch Bag Project, where 2,000 lunch bags were distributed to the homeless, as well as education initiatives, such as the mental wellness panel. Dubois uses his NBA connection to draw in big names, like VanVleet, to talk about issues they’ve encountered and how they’ve dealt with it. Dr. Yeager opened the panel by having each speaker touch on a mental health issue they’ve encountered. Dominic Ciambrone’s confession cut the deepest, admitting that his recent work schedule

had taken a toll on his mental wellness. “I’ve been travelling for the last year straight,” he said. “Recently, it’s been getting to me.” Ciambrone has struggled with mental health issues in the past. At age 24, clouded by a haze of drug abuse and anxiety, Ciambrone jumped out of a second-story window. While recovering, he was medicated and left in psychiatric care. “They told me I’d be on the medication for the rest of my life,” he said. But since then, Ciambrone has managed to get healthy and put the medication behind him, making mental wellness a priority. Dubois also opened up about his encounters with mental health. As a young man growing up in Los Angeles, he saw a number of his childhood friends murdered. But there were no support systems in place to help him deal with the trauma. “One of my coaches—I won’t mention his name— used to tell us the only funeral we were allowed to miss practice for was our Photo/ Jimmy Wang

Field Notes

own,” he said. “The community that I come from, when it comes to mental wealth, is underprivileged, over diagnosed and underserved.” Dr. Yeager transitioned the conversation to ways in which people can improve their mental health. Jaclyn Genovese brought up the importance of vulnerability. “The more vulnerable I’ve found I am, the more intimate I can be with a person,” she said. The panelists all agreed that talking to someone about your issues was the best way to bolster mental wellness. VanVleet, however, clarified that mental wellness is not synonymous with happiness. “I don’t feel like I have to be happy all the time,” he said. Instead, he preached letting go of the things you can’t control and only worrying about the things you can. One of the things you can control is being aware and supportive of other people’s mental wellness. “I ask my guys how they’re doing. It sounds simple, but you’d be surprised,” VanVleet said. “This is about caring for each other. It’s hard to care about people you don’t know, and it’s hard to know someone if you don’t talk to them.” The panel was followed by a Q&A and a musical performance by JP — Andrew Cruickshank Saxe.

Exercise and cancer outcomes An interview with KPE’s Linda Trinh

The American College of Sports Medicine issued new exercise guidelines in October that focus on how exercise affects cancer outcomes. The key message: Even a little exercise may help people avoid and survive many types of cancer. We asked Linda Trinh, an assistant professor at the Faculty specializing in exercise and cancer survivorship, to comment on the new guidelines. We know that cancer treatments, while often effective, can leave people feeling ill, anxious, exhausted and frail. How can exercise help? The evidence supporting the use of exercise for cancer prevention and survivorship has grown tremendously in the past decade. Exercise is beneficial at all phases of the cancer care trajectory, including prevention, treatment, recovery and improved survival. There is strong evidence that exercising during and after cancer treatment improves fatigue, anxiety, depression, physical function and quality of life, and does not exacerbate lymphedema. Can exercise change the trajectory of cancer? In addition to addressing a number of cancer-related health outcomes, exercise can prevent recurrence and improve survival outcomes. In terms of prevention, there is now strong evidence that physical activity lowers the risk of seven types of cancer, including colon, breast, kidney, endometrium, bladder, stomach cancer and esophageal adenocarcinoma. After a cancer diagnosis, exercise is associated with improved survival outcomes in patients with breast, colon and prostate cancer. What stands in the way of more people with cancer exercising? The barriers to physical activity participation are multi-faceted. Research shows that the most common barriers include lack of time, fatigue, treatment-related side effects and a lack of knowledge regarding exercise and its benefits during cancer treatment. Part of the new guidelines suggest a ‘call to action’ for oncology clinicians to assess, advise and refer patients to appropriate exercise programs – clinical, community or self-directed. What are some tried and tested methods of motivating cancer patients to exercise? We know that when cancer survivors adopt an exercise program, they can achieve long-term health benefits, but that only happens when exercise is maintained. My research focuses on how we can design interventions that promote regular physical activity in cancer survivors. In addition to providing an exercise prescription tailored to the needs and preferences of the individual, it is important to incorporate behaviour-change strategies needed for maintenance. We work with cancer survivors to make exercise a part of their regular lifestyle. According to the new guidelines, how much and what types of exercise may be the most needed, helpful and tolerable for anyone facing a cancer diagnosis? Experts now recommend that cancer patients and survivors perform aerobic and resistance training for approximately 30 minutes per session, three times a week, to achieve health benefits. — JD

Photo/ Arnold Lan

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Field Notes

Swimming for Gold, fighting for justice and having fun Mark Tewksbury receives Honorary degree Three generations of Olympians, Kylie Masse, Mark Tewksbury (our newest Doctor of Laws Honoris Causa) and Professor Bruce Kidd.


n Olympic champion. A broadcaster. A human rights advocate. An inductee to multiple halls of fame. Mark Tewksbury has had tremendous success inside and outside of the swimming pool.

“I’ve had such a fun life,” he told the National Post in 2012. Tewksbury’s many achievements were recognized in June by the University of Toronto with a Doctor of Laws, Honoris Causa. He was nominated for the honorary degree by the Faculty for “his excellence in sport, as a recordbreaking swimmer, athlete advocate, LGBTQ human rights advocate and role model.” Tewksbury accepted the honor at the convocation ceremony for KPE students. A winner of 13 national championships and four Commonwealth Games gold medals, Tewksbury achieved Olympic glory in 1992 by winning the gold medal in the 100-metre backstroke in Barcelona, Spain. The achievement landed Tewksbury on the cover of Time magazine.


Tewksbury later said he felt empowered at those Games because, privately, he came out as gay to a trusted coach. He told CBC Sports in 2018 the decision made all the difference to his personal integrity while competing. So when Tewksbury retired from competition and shifted his focus to motivational speaking and advocacy, he fought to make a difference for others. That included providing counsel to elite athletes who had not yet come out.

motivational speaking contract. When he spoke out about corruption at the International Olympic Committee in 1998, Tewksbury left the Olympic movement and didn’t return until 2012, when he became chef de mission of the 2012 Canadian Olympic Team. Since retiring from competitive swimming, Tewksbury has worked to empower swimmers across Canada through the Mark Tewksbury Junior Swim Bursary program, which he established in 1993. He is an active spokesperson for the Children’s Miracle Network, AIDS Walk Canada and the Special Olympics, where he is the chair of its advisory board.

His efforts made waves. In 2008, when France introduced the first declaration to decriminalize homosexuality at the United Nations, Tewksbury addressed the General Assembly on human rights. While boosting LGBTQ inclusivity in In Canada, Tewksbury witnessed sports has been a slow process, Tewksbury changes in the Canadian Olympic is confident progress is being made. Committee Charter to ensure LGBTQ athletes are guaranteed freedom from discrimination, and real discussion at “What’s cool is when history happens the board level about issues of inclusion. in such little, tiny, incremental steps, sometimes you don’t see it and it feels But Tewksbury’s LGBTQ trail-blazing useless and hopeless,” he told CBC also came at a personal price. Sports in 2018. He made front-page headlines when he publicly identified as gay in 1998 – he was the first Canadian Olympian to come out – but it cost him a six-figure

“But when you have enough time – like 20 years – the steps start to add up and make some sense.” — Perry King Photo/ U of T Press

Field Notes

Creating capacity, cultivating change; Faculty extends strategic academic plan


he pace of change at the Faculty over the last five years has been dramatic, resulting in a reinforced multidisciplinary approach to research and teaching, integrated curricular and co-curricular programs and recruitment of top scholars. The Faculty has increased the capacity of physical spaces available for co-curricular and academic programs and provided its students with unrivaled opportunities for experiential learning. And, it’s had a meaningful impact on the University of Toronto’s QS World Ranking. The university is now ranked fifth in the world for a field that encompasses kinesiology, exercise or sport sciences and was ranked top 10 in the last three years.

The Faculty’s vision, mission and strategic goals, articulated in 2013, remain relevant and will continue to guide it: Educate and graduate a diverse student body who become productive contributors and leaders in their fields; strengthen recognition and productivity in research, scholarship, innovation and creative activity; improve participation rates and performance outcomes across the continuum of co-curricular physical activity and sport programs; and build new capacity through investments in infrastructure, people and partnerships. The 2018-2022 Academic Strategic Plan Extension sets out priorities for each of the strategic goals. These priorities have been shaped by ongoing reviews of the Faculty’s programs, services and achievements since 2013 done in consultation with students, student-athletes, faculty, staff, alumni, donors, funders and partners within and outside the University, including the Faculty’s Task Force on Race and Indigeneity. — JD Handley brings a wealth of experience to the Faculty, having been the CAO of the Faculty of Law since 2013, the CAO of the Division of Student Services from 2011 to 2013 and the Director of Operations at the UTM Library prior to that. Handley has a Bachelor of Physical Health and Education (BPHE) and a Master of Science degree from the Faculty, as well as an MBA from the Rotman School of Management. In November this year, he was conferred a Global Professional LLM degree. “We are very fortunate to be able to announce the appointment of someone with such a rich combination of U of T CAO experience, as well as personal experiences in KPE degree programs aul Handley has been appointed to and co-curricular sports,” says Dean Ira the position of Chief Administrative Jacobs. Officer (CAO) in the Faculty, “My undergraduate days were mostly effective December 1, 2019. In his consumed with hockey,” says Handley, role as CAO, he will have strategic who played for the Varsity Blues men’s and operational responsibilities that hockey team and was an Academic engage the Faculty’s academic and non-academic mandates. All-Canadian. “That was the highlight

Faculty appoints new CAO


Photos/ Top/ Joel Jackson/ Bottom/ Courtesy of Paul Handley

of my university career by far. I made so many great friends during that time and I learned so much from playing hockey at that level. But, mostly I’m grateful for never having the chance to feel homesick, because I was immediately part of a team. Having that immediate social network set me up for success throughout my academics. “It feels exciting to be back and I look forward to contributing to a Faculty that had such an instrumental role in forming my career path,” he says. Handley will be stepping into the role of the Faculty’s CAO following the retirement of Rosanne LopersSweetman. Calling Lopers-Sweetman a tremendous mentor, confidant and advisor, Dean Jacobs announced funds would be donated to purchase a paver stone that will be embedded in the walkway between KPE and Simcoe Hall, home to U of T’s senior administration, to commemorate the many times Lopers-Sweetman had to tread that path. — JD Pursuit | Winter 2020


Fit Tips

m y G a s I e er h w y Ever By Jelena Damjanovic

I don’t have time. I don’t have the right clothes. The gym’s too far. I don’t know how to use the equipment. There seems to be no shortage of excuses for not exercising, but how justified are they? That depends on how you view exercise, says David Frost, an assistant professor in the University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education.


xercise is often perceived as something that’s hard, something that So, how many of these movement breaks do you need in a day? It must be done in a gym, or something that’s very structured, but if depends on what you do in the time that you have, says Frost, but we think of it as a movement break or an opportunity to work on our there is evidence to say as little as three minutes a day is beneficial. movement hygiene, that can change things,” says Frost. “We practice “One movement break of three minutes done three times a week can oral hygiene every day for a couple of minutes, so if we think about reap fitness benefits. From a physiological perspective, many health movement hygiene as the same thing for our body, that’s going to go a markers can dramatically change. From a mental health perspective, long way. And, the more we do it, the more it becomes a habit.” there is evidence to show that movement breaks increase focus, Frost has been posting short clips on Instagram (@performance_ reduce stress and anxiety, and increase work productivity,” says redefined) and YouTube every week of himself and others taking short Frost, whose recent Instagram post shows him and a number of his movement breaks wherever they are with whatever they have, from colleagues taking a movement break in the middle of a meeting. doing push-ups against a desk in their office to doing pull-ups in the “If we could start with changing the perception about where you have hotel room doorway. to be, how hard you have to work, how long you have to be doing it or From a psychological perspective, says Frost, that’s a huge boost to what you need to be wearing, we can make a big difference,” he says. somebody who’s trying to create this new habit of being physically “There really is no excuse to do nothing.” active, because it shows them it can be absolutely anything. Staff member Sophie Harding demonstrates five movement patterns “ Think of airports. We sit around waiting for the plane, there are you can practice anywhere, anytime, including your office desk: delays. If it’s acceptable for people to sleep on floors at the airport, why not do a little bout of physical activity? Or while you’re waiting for the subway. These are all little opportunities we could be taking advantage of,” he says.


Photo/ John Hryniuk

Fit Tips by standing in front of a chair with your 1. S quat. Beginwidt h apar t and your weight over the

feet about hip front with your middle of your feet. Reach straight out in as low as you n dow t squa , hips arms and back with your stand up r, chai the on ng sitti can go without actually with a one self your e leng Chal and repeat 10–15 times. legged squat.

n with your hands and feet shoulder 2. P ush-up. Begi a hands on your desk top and your body in

width apar t, the desk (you straight line. Lower your chest towards ble with) only need to go as low as you are comforta your ears. from y while keeping your shoulders pulled awa one-arm a with Repeat 10–15 times. Challenge yourself (hold the tap push-up, or one-arm plank with a shoulder to the hand push-up position at the top and touch your opposite shoulder).

your feet hip width apar t. Step back 3. L unge. Begin with front knee and lower your back knee

by bending your low as you are towards the floor (you only need to go as the floor and on heel t fron comfortable with). Keep the nce. Repeat bala for s hand reach out in front with your al lunge. later a with self 10–15 times. Challenge your floor. the on flat feet both Adopt a wide stance with (keep knee t righ your ing bend Lunge to the right side by your with t fron in out ight left leg straight). Reach stra as low as you are arms and back with your hips. Go down . legs ch swit and comfortable with, stand up

your feet hip width apar t. Hold an 4. R ow. Begin witha garb age can, laptop, backpack, etc.

object such as hips. Pull with both hands and bend forwards at your ing your elbows the object towards your belly button keep Challenge close to your body. Repeat 10–15 times. lying under yourself with an inverted row. Begin by straight. With your desk with your knees bent and arms tly wider than your hands shoulder width and feet sligh towards the shoulder width apar t, pull your chest up desk . Lower and repeat.

g. Begin by standing with a straight 5. G ood mornins acro ss your chest. Adopt a slight bend back and hand . Go down in the knees and bend forward at the hips your back ing keep e whil as low as you are comfortable lenge Chal s. time 5 10–1 at straight. Stand up and repe line ight stra a Keep ion. yourself with one-legged vers foot. d raise between your head and your

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Blues News

BEYOND THE GRIDIRON Blues football player’s summer in Rwanda


att Renaud is a man who understands challenges. The fifth-year Varsity Blues linebacker balances a busy life of football with the demands of an academic career in U of T’s neuroscience and molecular biology programs. But as Renaud entered his final Ontario University Athletics season, he brought a new perspective to both the field and the classroom after a life-altering summer experience. The Ottawa native spent two unforgettable months in Gisenyi, Rwanda – but the trip got off to a pretty rocky start.

“I flew out, landed there and had to wait two hours for someone to pick me up because there was a miscommunication about my arrival date,” says Renaud. “That was fun,” he says jokingly, “I was alone for two hours in the middle of the night after a 25-hour journey.” His introduction to Rwanda was hardly smooth but by the end, Renaud was educated on the many obstacles faced by the people of this African country. He made the journey thanks to a Queen Elizabeth Diamond Jubilee scholarship, awarded by the Government of Canada for students to travel abroad. Renaud had a choice between going to Kenya – an experience that would have been largely lab-based – or Rwanda. Ultimately, he chose the latter based on the fact that his time spent there would be directly in the Gisenyi community, helping to bring necessary change for the residents. “I’ve done lots of lab work over the course of my university career, so I wanted to try my hand at something a little different. I wanted to spread the net,” Renaud says of the chance to have an impact on the community.


Based with a host family, he worked at a disability-focused community centre in Gisenyi, with the goal of implementing programs that would positively impact beneficiaries. Renaud started by carefully observing the inner workings of the centre, from the pre and primary schools and vocational skills program, to the transition skills class (preparing special education students for mainstream schooling) and the community-based rehabilitation unit. He would focus his attention on the latter, which provides assistance to approximately 60 people, mostly children, and many of whom live with disabilities ranging from cerebral palsy to spinal cord injury. Renaud would go on home visits as well, walking up to seven kilometres a day to reach out to about 35 additional residents in the community. “Most of these patients were people who couldn’t make it into the centre for various accessibility reasons,” he says. “They were in a wheelchair or they were too far away; sometimes up to a five-hour walk, one way, from the centre. Not many roads are paved in Rwanda. It’s a lot of volcanic rock, very uneven ground. “I started brainstorming with the staff. I tried combining the assessments we completed with the information I received from my colleagues to determine what would Photos/ Left/Courtesy of Matt Renaud/Right/Owen Mertens

benefit both the staff and the patients. Aside from learning from the physios and working directly with the patients, which was awesome, I did a lot of admin work like organizing schedules. We created a basic schedule that allowed us to track who we were visiting in a given week so we had an idea of who we missed, who we weren’t able to see and the last time we saw a specific patient.” Renaud quickly began to understand the magnitude of the challenges faced by the locals. “[The home visit patients] were people who didn’t have access to basic necessities, like health care and adequate nutrition,” he says, specifically referencing one child with a spinal cord injury bearing a constant cough.

“Matt’s experiences this past summer are remarkable and it’s amazing he can accomplish all of that and be a top-notch football player on the field,” says Coach Marshall. “He is certainly setting himself up well for what he wants to achieve later in life.” Whether that’s med school or more work abroad, Renaud will be ready. He has travelled internationally before, but Renaud says he didn’t really know what to expect from Rwanda. He knew the “dominating discourse” overshadowing the country’s recent political history pertains largely to the horrifying genocide of 1994 and that the economy was growing quickly, but that was about it. Renaud learned that discussing the happenings of 1994 is very taboo among Rwandans, though the people were always interested in hearing his perspective on the nation’s disturbing past.

Renaud got to work. He developed an exercise program, with pictures, so the beneficiaries could easily follow. And when he found out that a donation of 800 euros to the centre had gone unused, he pitched the idea of a health care and nutrition assistance program, which also helped address some obstacles like paying for insurance and getting access to transportation.

“It helped me realize the importance of history in general and how it shapes a country, a population, and subgroups of a population” Renaud says. “It’s easy to remain detached from events such as this one from across the globe. Their impact can easily be overlooked. My stay gave me a new perspective on many issues affecting people around the world.” Renaud remains in contact with his Rwandan friends, typically through WhatsApp. He also has some emotional memories about the entire experience. An Ebola scare in the nearby city of Goma (in the Democratic Republic of Congo) forced an early return to Canada, an eye-opener given his desire to do more work internationally.

“The objective was to give people in the villages and the towns different ways to access quality nutrition as well as provide access to health care services, and to do it in a sustainable way,” Renaud says. He also put his athletic expertise to use when it came to activity for children. Fridays at the pre and primary schools tended to be chaotic when 600 kids would all hit the basketball court at the same time. Renaud began to break them down into smaller groups, utilizing additional space like a local soccer pitch to implement games like bocce and lifesized tic-tac-toe. “Bocce was a huge hit,” says Renaud. “We made them out of socks filled with rocks. Kids were coming up to me mid-week and asking, ‘Can you go get your box?’” Renaud’s impact during his trip was little surprise to Toronto head coach Greg Marshall, who knows his veteran linebacker is an extraordinary student-athlete and citizen.

But there were several touching moments, as well. Renaud’s host family had a baby named Ora. The child had never seen a white person before and he was struck by her confusion when their eyes first met. “That lasted about a week and then she warmed up to me,” he says. “By the end of my stay, her and I were buds. She would wait for me when I came home from work and reach up to me for a hug." “Those connections made it difficult to leave.”

— David DiCenzo

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Blues News


Bianca Andreescu made history when she became the first Canadian to win the US Open women’s singles championship. On the way to her historic win, the Mississauga teen stopped by the University of Toronto to get some running advice from Varsity Blues track and field coach Terry Radchenko. How did you two meet? My contact information was passed on to Bianca from another coach she was working with. She wanted to get a consultation on her running form, so her mom contacted me and we met on a weekend at the Athletic Centre. Bianca came right after her practice with her mom and dad, one of her tennis coaches, her physiotherapist and her Tennis Canada strength and conditioning coach.

What were some of the tips you gave her? First I watched her and her trainer from Tennis Canada go through their activation circuit. These are drills that you would do before you actually start running or moving. You want to make sure that you’re not overusing one muscle over another. So, you want to activate your glutes and your hamstring, your quads and calves, and make sure your spine is mobile. Then I watched them go through their mobility routine. These typically include exercises such as skipping with arm circles or sweeping the ground or kicking your legs up high. After this, we did some of the drills that I would do with our athletes such as marching A and skipping A, which are both good for running form. When she was warmed up, I watched her run at a variety of paces over 50 metres, first at 50 per cent, then at 70 per cent and then at 80 per cent and I took some videos. I wanted to see where her foot was landing, how it was landing and if she was coming down on the power part of her foot. We looked back at the videos together and I pointed out a couple of little changes she could make.


Photo/ Courtesy of Terry Radchenko

Blues News


I thought her running stride looked really good by the end. That’s when I took a little video of her going over some baby hurdles, also known as wickets, and her form looked really strong, which was nice to see.

What’s Bianca Andreescu like? The thing about Bianca that was really interesting was that she was, like most super high level athletes, like a sponge. She really wanted to hear the thoughts on her running form. She took a real interest in seeing the video of herself running, observing what her feet were doing and how her body was moving, noticing how it looked at the start in the first few strides she did and then comparing that to the video we took of her running over the hurdles and seeing how good her form looked.

Is she as humble as she appears to be? She is humble, yes, but she is also very confident and motivated. She was great. The whole group of them were great and easy to work with and I can see why she is so successful. She wants to learn, she wants to do anything she can to get better. I was rooting for her, of course, and it was great to see her success. I can’t say anything but good things about her from meeting her and her family even for that short period. — JD.

Trivedi joined the Blues after one season as Brock University’s interim head coach, where he led the Badgers to a 16-8 regular season record and to the Wilson Cup semifinals. Prior to coaching the Badgers, Trivedi spent five seasons as an associate coach for McGill University, two seasons as an assistant coach with the Queen’s Gaels and one season as an assistant at Ryerson after playing for four years for the Rams. Trivedi managed the Canadian U17 cadet men’s national team during the 2010 FIBA world championships in Germany and the 2011 FIBA Americas in Mexico. He also served as an associate coach on the Canadian squad that competed at the Maccabi Summer Games in 2013 and 2017 and is currently a special assistant coach with the U20 Israeli national team. Trivedi holds a BA in child and youth care from Ryerson University, a BEd from Queen’s University and a MSc in sports sciences and coaching education from Ohio University.

ANGELO CAVALLUZZO WOMEN’S SOCCER ASSOCIATE HEAD COACH Cavalluzzo served as the Blues assistant coach during the 2018 season. In addition, he is currently the head coach of the Hamilton United League 1 Reserve, as well as an assistant and goalkeeper coach with the Toronto FC Academy. His soccer resume includes stints as an analyst for Toronto FC Academy in 2018 and as an assistant coach with both the McMaster Marauders men’s and women’s programs (2016–18). As a player, Cavalluzzo was a goalkeeper for Toronto FC II, appearing in over 30 matches in the United Soccer League (USL). Prior to that, the three-time OUA all-star captained the McMaster Marauders in 2015, while also winning two OUA championship titles, two OUA silver medals and one U SPORTS national silver medal.

IRV DAYMOND FOOTBALL OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR. Daymond comes to U of T after six seasons as the offensive line coach with the Wilfrid Laurier Golden Hawks. Daymond was a part of a coaching staff that led the Hawks to league-best 7-1 record in 2016, through to a clutch 43-40 Yates Cup win over the Western University Mustangs. A two-time OUA all-star and 1985 CIS (now U SPORTS) all-Canadian while a student at Western, Daymond was selected in the sixth round of the 1984 CFL draft by the BC Lions. He played 10 seasons for the Ottawa Rough Riders (1986–1995) where he was twice named the Rough Rider Citizen of the Year (1990, 1991) and a CFL East all-star in 1992. Daymond also volunteered as the offensive line coach for Team Ontario, 2013–19, the O-line coach for Football Canada’s U16 squad (2018) and prior to that, he was a member of the uOttawa Gee-Gees coaching staff from 2006 to 2011.

Photos/ Varsity Blues

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Blues News



he’s already an Olympic medallist and a beloved Blues hockey coach, now Vicky Sunohara can add another exciting title to her name: Honorary Lieutenant Colonel of the Queen’s Own Rifles.

Sunohara is never one to say no to a new challenge, so when this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity presented itself, she was quick to accept.

she continues to serve her community through coaching, mentoring and volunteering. It is a great privilege to have a woman of such distinction accept this important role.” As an honorary member, Sunohara will act as a guardian of traditions and history. She will also help to promote the regiment’s identity and to support and advise commanding officers on non-operations related issues. It’s an honour reserved only for individuals who are trusted to best promote the interests of the unit.

“I was shocked and humbled,” says Sunohara. “What came to my mind was ‘not worthy.’ I have a tremendous amount of respect and gratitude for those who serve our country. To be “It’s just so exciting,” says Sunohara. “I’m always one for able to contribute in some small way is quite rewarding.” being involved with the community and this is something so different than anything I’ve done before.” The Queen’s Own Rifles of Canada (QOR of C) is a primary army reserve infantry regiment based in Toronto. It was Sunohara’s plate will be fuller than ever with this new founded in 1860 and is the oldest continuously serving role, but she is no stranger to having a busy schedule. The infantry regiment in Canada. The QOR of C has been two-time Olympic gold medallist served as assistant captain part of every Canadian military campaign, as well as both for Team Canada for seven years and won 15 gold and three World War I and World War II. They have provided disaster silver medals on Canada’s national team. She joined the relief in Ontario, Quebec and Manitoba and served in Varsity Blues as Head Coach for Women’s Hockey in 2011 Afghanistan, Bosnia Herzegovina, Croatia, Cyprus, Egypt, and manages to run her summer hockey camp in Whitby Iraq, Namibia, Somalia and Sudan. (for the last 19 years) as well as the Varsity Blues summer hockey academy at the University of Toronto. An important function of the Honorary Lieutenant Colonel role is to help create and maintain connections between Sunohara’s new role with the QOR of C kicked off with a the community and the regiment. This made Sunohara a formal ceremony at Casa Loma in Toronto. Throughout the natural choice, according to Regimental Sergeant Major year she will be attending various regimental meetings, Donovan O’Halloran. training sessions and even a formal ball. “I’m excited to learn and grow in this position,” says Vicky. “And I’m “Vicky is a leader in our community on several levels,” he looking forward to contributing in any way that I can.” says. “She is a role model for the pursuit of excellence, she — Elaine Evans has achieved the highest measure of success in her sport and


Photos/Anne Frazer


Blues News

Father/daughter team bike 880 km from Illinois to U Of T “Yes, you are on the team” is what immediately went through “From the vantage of point A, our end goal of Toronto seemed quite distant and somewhat far-fetched. We the mind of David Wright, the Varsity Blues mountain ultimately got here by putting our heads down and bike team’s head coach, when he heard that an incoming pedalling,” she says. first year student, Carlin Henikoff, biked 880 km to the University of Toronto St. George campus and into the team’s “The importance of teamwork, first meeting. communication, flexibility and openness to unforeseen paths has Henikoff and her father Troy, come to underlie my everyday decided to spend the last few decisions in a renewed light. days they had before she started Hopefully, these central pillars her first year of studies at U of T will help propel me through by embarking on an epic cycling my university studies and journey on a tandem bike from my involvement with U of T’s their home in Illinois. The pair mountain bike team.” pedalled up to 200 kilometres a day. Henikoff competed in her first University Cup race on September 9. “As a father I can’t think of a better way to send your child off to university,” says Coach Wright. “Some memorable quality time for sure. What a story. Bravo to her dad, to her “I could not be more excited to have such an adventurous, ambitious and amiable community graciously welcome me and to mom!” into the team and I am so grateful to have them all as my support network for the season ahead,” she says. Henikoff, who will study math and physical sciences at U of T, says taking advantage of the opportunity to take the scenic — Michal Leckie route to school helped set a good tone for her years ahead.


Photo/ Courtesy of Carlin Henikoff

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Blues News


Varsity Blues basketball player spreads joy with food


assan Adenola is too humble to accept that he has super powers. But, the kinesiology student and Varsity Blues basketball player, who also runs a successful catering business and youth mentorship program, does believe in the power of mentorship.

“He believed in me and he was dedicated to me,” says Adenola. “He taught me everything about basketball, from shooting to dribbling, to how to move my feet, read a player, box my way out, sweep low, attack the basket … Even off the court, he was always interested in how my family was doing.”

“I’m always curious, so when this happened, I wanted to know why? What’s going on with my body? Why does my leg look like a raw chicken after surgery? How will my body recover? I started to do some research on my own and became interested in the subject,” he says.

When he moved with his family from Nigeria to Canada at age 10, everything was different – the people, the climate, the language. He discovered a love of basketball in middle school and by high school, he made the decision that this was something he was going to pursue seriously.

Although no longer a teenager, Adenola says he wants be like Maydo when he grows up.

Adenola is in his third year of kinesiology now at the Faculty, after transferring from York.

“He’s all positivity and good vibes,” he says with a smile.

“I wanted to go somewhere where I could grow in basketball and I found a home with the Varsity Blues. I love the boys and the coaches and staff. They’re amazing,” he says.

Every morning at 6:00 a.m. he’d be in the gym of the Emery Collegiate high school practicing until the bell rang for classes at 9 a.m. The school’s coach Bob Maydo was right there beside him.


In addition to making him a good basketball player, the daily drills with Maydo instilled time management skills in a young Adenola, which served him well when he went on to university. He chose to study kinesiology after ripping his pattelar tendon in Grade 11. The injury kept him away from the game he loves, but also got him thinking.

Doing well in school and basketball is a top priority for Adenola. But, he also remains dedicated to his other love from middle school – cooking.

Photos/ Courtesy of Hassan Adenola

Blues News

“When I was younger, I was close to my mom. I was interested in everything she did,” says Adenola, who grew up with his parents and five brothers in the Jane and Wilson neighbourhood.

who have the time to bring you places to see this or that. They’re busy and you have no one to talk to about everyday problems.”

“Food is not just food, it connects us, it brings joy to people and I love seeing joy on people’s faces”

“I looked at her hard work and how much she did for us with so little.” One of the things she did was cook a lot of African food. Her passion for cooking rubbed off on Adenola. “I started to dabble in cooking when I was in middle school,” he says. “Next thing you know, I’m working in the kitchen of a private golf course, learning to mix ingredients, moving up the levels.” He was working at Oakdale Golf and Country Club for six years as a sous chef when he decided to start his own catering business. Again, he had a mentor help him along the way. Chef Loso took him under his wing, taught him how to cook for large crowds and introduced him to people. Soon he was catering for artists, musicians, actors and comedians such as WizKid, Michael Dapaah, Femi Lawson and Daniel Caesar. In his spare time, he went to community centres across the city to teach youth the essentials of cooking – something he started doing in the Chalkfarm Community Centre where he had spent many hours in his youth.

The program offers workshops on cooking, resume writing, mental health and sports, and includes field trips to downtown Toronto. So, how does he do it all?

“I compartmentalize my Last year when Raptors star Kyle Lowry schedule to fit everything in,” he says. went to the John Innes Community “During the school year, my focus is on Centre with his foundation to distribute school and basketball. I go to classes, food for Thanksgiving, the child and practices and games and I book all my youth workers who knew Adenola from catering in advance. Then I look to see the Chalkfarm Community Centre, when I have a block of free time and invited him to help give out the turkeys that’s when I run the youth program.” to 200 families. As for the future, he’s still figuring “Being able to work beside a legend that out. He’d love to play basketball and see what he has achieved and how overseas, but he also wants to further he gives back to the community was his education. This semester he was amazing,” Adenola says. “He is such able to get his average up and he is a good guy, a family guy, calm and considering going into gerontology or collected, and focused on the people. nursing next. One thing he’s sure of is Wherever you go in life, you never want that he’ll continue to cook. to forget the people that support you.” I ask about his signature dish. He says Three summers ago Adenola, with he can cook anything, but his favourites help from his friend Malik, started a are the Nigerian dishes he grew up with mentorship program called GAINS, – suya, jollof rice, plantain. short for Great Achievements Involve a Number of Sacrifices. Chalkfarm “That brings my heart back home. So Community Centre agreed to let him much is connected to food, who you use their space free of charge and are and where you come from. Food is Adenola enlisted his friends to volunteer, not just food, it connects us, it brings helping out with snacks, paperwork and joy to people and I love seeing joy on leading the workshops. people’s faces,” he says. “The program is for youth aged 10 to 14, who don’t have the opportunity to do what others take for granted,” explains Adenola. “Not everyone has parents

“Food, music, basketball … if it makes — JD people happy, I want to do it.”

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Blues News


Blues represent at the World University Games in Naples, Italy


Ainsley McMurray Swimming – BRONZE

Hannah Genich Swimming – BRONZE

Alina Dormann Volleyball

Justina Yeung Table Tennis

Michèle Bélanger Coach


Elaena Dick Diving

Rachael Jaffe Water Polo

John Campbell Coach

Rebecca Jeffrey Fencing

David Chen-Li Fencing

Edward Li Fencing

Georgia Kidd Swimming

Cam Kidd Swimming

Matt Dans Swimming

Thomas Nguyen Coach

Aidan Wallace Hockey – BRONZE

David Thomson Hockey – BRONZE

Lauren Straatman Hockey – SILVER

Bob Westman Coach

Karina Li Fencing

Eli Wall Swimming

Lee Schofield Medical Staff

Samuel Lee Taekwondo

Lucia Stafford Track & Field

Jill Clark Communications Officer

Photos/ Courtesy of The Varsity Blues

Blues News


arsity Blues defensive back Nick Hallett and defensive lineman Malcolm Campbell were selected in the 2019 Canadian Football League (CFL) draft. Hallett was chosen in the seventh round, 61st overall by the Winnipeg Blue Bombers, while Campbell was selected in the eighth round, 65th overall by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats. Standing at 6-foot-0, 200 pounds, Hallett led the Blues and ranked fourth in the OUA with 60 tackles in 2017, while Campbell, who is 6-foot-3, 230 pounds, ranked second on the team and 10th in the OUA with 45.5 tackles this past season. He also led the OUA with 12 TFL and ranked third in the province with six sacks in 2018. This marks the eighth time in the past nine seasons that at least one Varsity Blues player has been selected in the Canadian draft. — Jill Clark


NICK HALLETT 2019 GREY CUP CHAMPION! The Winnipeg Blue Bombers won the 107th Grey Cup playing against the Hamilton Tiger-Cats at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alberta. Here’s Hallett holding the Cup after his team defeated Hamilton 33 to 12.

FUN AWARDS They were loud and they were proud! Varsity Blues took home two OUA Champ Awards in 2018–19. The Blues won the Best Fan Support Group Award and the Best Mascot Award.

Photos/ Courtesy of The Varsity Blues/Centre/Nick Hallett

Pursuit | Winter 2020



Field Notes

FINDING BALANCE By Jelena Damjanovic Photography by Seed 9

Faculty expands physical activity program to improve mental health for all students


roviding effective support for students facing mental health challenges is one of the most pressing issues facing Canadian universities and colleges today. According to the council group Ontario’s Universities, the number of students on college and university campuses with identified mental health conditions has more than doubled over the past five years, with growing numbers of students reporting feeling anxious and depressed.

“For all the wonder and excitement that comes from being a university student, there’s also the pressure that’s brought on by things such as multiple looming deadlines, social challenges and increased autonomy. This environment can affect any student’s mental well-being,” says Catherine Sabiston, a professor at the Faculty and Tier II Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Mental Health. Sabiston studies the link between mental health and exercise among people at risk of inactivity and mental health problems, including mental health service users, cancer survivors and sport participants across the lifespan. In 2015, she helped launch MoveU.HappyU, a six week individually-tailored and supervised physical activity program designed to increase physical activity levels of students seeking mental health treatment. Pursuit | Winter 2020



Field Notes

“For all the wonder and excitement that comes from being a university student, there’s also the pressure of looming deadlines, social challenges and increased autonomy. This can affect any student’s mental well-being,” — Catherine Sabiston

“The impetus for the program came from our desire to work with U of T’s Health and Wellness services, so that they could refer students in need to a dedicated exercise program where they could develop physical activity as a lifestyle strategy to help mitigate symptoms of mental illness,” she says. According to Sabiston, there are physiological, psychological, social and even historical theories on how physical activity improves our mental health, from giving us much needed breaks from the daily grind to providing us with an improved sense of confidence and social connectedness. “Being active is in human nature. Our body temperature rises when we’re active and this sense of warmth is something that is highly tied to feelings of comfort and support. Being active also releases brain chemicals that trigger positive reactions in the body,” she says. Participants in the MoveU.HappyU program receive weekly one-on-one physical activity and behavioural coaching, during which they learn exercise techniques and strategies to set goals, overcome barriers, reduce stress and increase coping skills. Early evaluations of the program confirmed a marked decrease of anxiety and depression among the participants, while showing an increase in their levels of physical activity and psychological well-being. They also revealed a readiness on the part of participants for a follow up, group based training – something the program couldn’t deliver on its own.

Sabiston approached Luc Simard, assistant director of physical activity, equity and client services at the Faculty, for help. In the past year, U of T students made close to half a million visits to the Faculty’s athletic facilities, taking advantage of the Sport and Recreation division's myriad of physical activity offerings, from drop-in programs and registered classes to group fitness classes and personal training. But not all students were equally represented, with female and international students historically making less use of the division’s programming. As it happened, Douglas Rosa, a fitness and performance coordinator on the Sport and Rec team, had just completed a master’s thesis with Sabiston in which he explored ways of better integrating international students into physical activity programming that exists on campus. Rosa’s study revealed that international and domestic students are no different in terms of their overall levels of activity, which start to decline in adolescence. However, they seem to differ in their beliefs and attitudes around physical activity, with one suggestion being that international students may not value physical activity as a stress management strategy to the same extent that domestic students do. This was a light bulb moment for Sabiston and Simard, who realized an expanded MoveU.HappyU program could benefit international students, who have always been welcomed into the program, but not intentionally targeted.

Pursuit | Winter 2020


“Being active is in human nature. Our body temperature rises when we’re active and this sense of warmth is something that is highly tied to feelings of comfort and support. Being active also releases brain chemicals that trigger positive reactions in the body,” — Catherine Sabiston

“International students experience all the same stressors as all other students, but for many of them these are coupled with the challenge of trying to fit into a new cultural and language environment,” says Sabiston. “We want to ensure that all students on campus are equally represented in the program and feel that they have an equal opportunity to benefit from the positive effects of exercise.”

The HIIT portion of the program is overseen by the Faculty’s Assistant Professor Jenna Gillen who, in another instance of serendipity, was looking for opportunities to test some of her research interests in HIIT in the real world. When she learned that MoveU. HappyU was looking to provide its graduates with a follow up group based training program, the stars aligned.

Boosted by the International Student Experience “We’ve done very controlled laboratory studies that Fund (ISEF) grant, she and Simard set about to raise show HIIT can improve fitness and a range of health awareness among international students about the markers in recreationally active or inactive adults, so I benefits of physical activity, while increasing the wanted to offer it in an actual recreational community Faculty’s understanding of what international students setting, like the gym in Goldring Centre, to see if we want in physical activity programming. At last, MoveU. could achieve similar health and fitness benefits,” says HappyU could begin to expand its capacity and reach. Gillen. While the program continues to serve domestic students seeking mental health support, there is now a concerted effort to draw international students dealing with mental health challenges arising from the stress of acculturation. Referrals to the program still come from health professionals at Health and Wellness, but may also come from dons of residences, deans of students or embedded counsellors in different faculties, departments and colleges. Finally, those who complete the six weeks of individual physical activity and behavioural coaching now have the option of signing up for six weeks of co-ed or women’s only high intensity interval training (HIIT) classes in a group setting.


She worked with undergraduate kinesiology student and personal trainer at the Faculty Sabrina Vicinanzo to develop an exercise protocol for the HIIT classes, which involves exercising hard for one minute, followed by one minute of rest and repeating that pattern ten times. The specific exercises change each class and include a variety of movements that use minimal to no equipment such as burpees, step-ups and body-weight squats. With a five-minute warm up and cool down, the total time of the class is only 30 minutes, making it easy to work into busy student schedules.

Pursuit | Winter 2020



Field Notes

“The biggest breakthrough is when participants recognize how exercise benefits their mental health, acknowledging that it is something they can do to counter the negative symptoms of mental health challenges,” — Sonia Jain

Zhuangyi, an international student referred to the program by Health and Wellness, has no qualms about it being time well spent. She and 93 other students who went through the first incarnation of the MoveU.HappyU program were invited to join the HIIT classes after completing the individualized training. “This is a really good opportunity. Having a free trainer in a small class setting is awesome. She sees to it that you are doing the exercises and even though they’re hard, your body feels better afterwards,” she says. “On my own, I’d probably give up half way through, but with her, I can see that I actually feel better if I force myself to do the work and that becomes a good habit later on.” Zhuangyi particularly appreciates the social dimension of the MoveU.HappyU program, saying it gives participants an opportunity to develop trusting relationships with each other and their trainers, all of whom are students or alumni of the Faculty and personal trainers.

That’s exactly the type of behavioural change the program hopes to inspire, says Sonia Jain, a graduate of the Faculty’s Master of Kinesiology Program (MPK) and certified personal trainer, who facilitates MoveU.HappyU’s one-on-one physical activity and behavioural coaching. “The biggest breakthrough is when participants recognize how exercise benefits their mental health, acknowledging that it is something they can do to counter the negative symptoms of mental health challenges,” she says. Over the next year, Sabiston and Gillen will measure and compare the differences in mental health and physical fitness of the participants before and after starting the individual and group training sessions, but evaluations of the program will also be important from a programming perspective.

“We want to understand what delivery model works best and if there’s anything that’s missing,” says Sabiston. “The bottom line is, we want to create a welcoming “It’s so easy to get sucked into your assignments at this time environment in our Sport and Rec programs and athletic facilities for all students on campus, because we know that of the year, you don’t want to ‘waste’ any time on other if we can improve their chances of being active, we can things. But, I think setting aside some time to exercise every day is actually helpful, because you need to step back improve their mental health.” from your studies every once in a while to clear your head. It’s also going to improve your sleep quality,” she says.

To learn more about MoveU.HappyU see

*Name changed to protect student’s privacy. Pursuit | Winter 2020


Field Notes



By Jelena Damjanovic

Photography by Seyran Mammadov

Toronto Raptors head coach Nick Nurse shares championship ring, words of inspiration at U of T event


Field Notes


ick Nurse, head coach of the Toronto Raptors, slipped the team’s diamond-encrusted championship ring off his finger and passed it around a packed room during a Varsity Blues fundraising event in November. Sports journalist and broadcaster Elliotte Friedman, who was moderating the Basketball Excellence Program (BEP) event, asked Nurse what pops into his head when the ring goes on his finger.

“I think about sharing it with everybody,” said Nurse. “That was the best experience for me about getting the title – sharing it with everybody from Toronto and Canada, with the people from Iowa where I grew up and the people I went to school with.” Nurse was invited to the inaugural fundraising event, held at the Toronto Region Board of Trade, to discuss his team’s journey to the NBA championship. The BEP was initiated as part of the Blues commitment to athletic and academic excellence, and to further support the social and leadership development of its students.

Nurse, for his part, suggested the team also brought the world together. Asked by Friedman about what it meant to be part of a group that brought the championship title to the city, he said it meant a lot to see the jubilation and celebrations across Canada, but what was really unique was seeing the team become “kind of the world’s team.” “There were a lot of people around the world rooting for us,” said Nurse. “We had a really likeable team, who were playing their hardest, playing together, sharing and playing great defence.” Nurse shared a story from his coaching days with the Birmingham Bullets in the mid-1990s. After a lost game, Nurse overheard someone in the U.K. organization describe it as typical Birmingham Bullets basketball. When Nurse went back to his hotel room that night, he decided he needed to change the organization’s mindset. “I wrote on a piece of paper ‘expect to win’ followed by two good-size paragraphs about how everybody in the organization – when they come to the arena on game night or when they get on the bus to go for a road game – would need to have their mindset set to ‘we are going to win.’ Whatever the circumstances, however many guys are in or out, regardless of whether we’re losing or not, we were going to be going for the win,” said Nurse.

"I wrote on a piece of paper 'expect to win' followed by two goodsize paragraphs about how everybody on game night would need to have their mindset set to ‘we are going to win.'"

U of T President Meric Gertler and Dean of the Faculty Ira Jacobs were on hand to welcome the guest of honour. “The university’s commitment to excellence is something we share in common with the Raptors. But our connections go deeper,” said President Gertler, noting U of T’s Chancellor Emeritus and former Ontario Premier David Peterson was the founding chairman of the Raptors. As well, many of the team’s supporters – doctors, therapists, dentists and coaches – have ties to U of T, while the university’s venues have hosted Raptors’ practices, tryouts and camps. “Even the Raptor, the famous mascot for the team, made his debut at U of T during the high school all-star game between Toronto and Michigan – a little known fact,” President Gertler said. “Perhaps most significantly, the Raptors and U of T are both massive city builders. Whether it’s through our athletics facilities or the knowledge capacities we build, U of T’s nearly 200-year-long relationship with Toronto has literally transformed this city. The Raptors aren’t quite as old as we are, but the team has brought this city together like never before.”

—Nick Nurse

The Bullets went on to win the British Basketball League championship in 1996. On day one of training camp with the Raptors last year, the players all got wristbands that said “expect to win.” Nurse told the crowd he wasn’t transfixed on becoming an NBA championship coach, but he always knew he loved basketball and winning. So, he was surprised when he took on a coaching position in the NBA D-League (now G League) that he wasn’t winning more, despite having nine championships from Europe under his belt. Nurse and his assistant coach Nate Bjorkgren spent hours every day trying to figure out how to win more games. They decided that they would focus on four things: getting the best players; building offensive and defensive systems that were simple and effective; and preparing for the ends of each game.

Pursuit | Winter 2020


“Games in the NBA are really close. A lot of them come down to those last three or four minutes. I put up huge dry erase boards on the walls of my basement and I’d write at the top of one of them: ‘It’s a tie, with 38 seconds left.’ Then we’d jot down ideas – like put my best offensive players out, consider going two for one, run player number four … We’d go through hundreds of scenarios and solutions because we wanted to be totally prepared.” Nurse also shared valuable advice he received from other coaches, singling out a meeting in Montana with 11-time NBA champion Phil Jackson. Jackson picked him up at a coffee shop with his truck and then pulled over by the side of the road to buy a bag of cherries. “He rolls down the windows, we drive around for hours, eating cherries, spitting pits and I’m thinking, ‘I’m sitting here spitting cherries with 11-time NBA champion, my hero Phil Jackson,’” said Nurse. Jackson gave Nurse two pieces of advice: He told him never to underestimate the power of the basketball gods and to imagine that he’s got a sword.

Friedman wanted to know who on his team responds well to the tip of the sword and who needs to be dealt with compassion. “They all need both at different times,” said Nurse. “They all want to be coached. This is their livelihood. They want you to put them in a position to be successful. They want you to give them a game plan. They’re out there playing 25 to 30 minutes, scoring points night after night, talking to the media afterwards – that takes a lot of physical and mental energy. So, for the most part, it’s your vision and how you are running things day-to-day that sets the tone for all of that.”

“They came out in game two and played the best defense ever,” said Nurse. Friedman wanted to know how the team blows off steam. Do they go bowling? “I’m not crazy about that idea, but we had an incredible Halloween party,” replied Nurse, disclosing that he dressed up as Elvis Presley. “We have a ton of fun – we’re the first team to have a deejay at practice.”

"I don’t understand why more players and coaches don’t devour the art of shooting, why they don’t study it and practice it more,”

“Use the sharp end to push those guys, to prod them, but every once in a while look at the handle. Let it symbolize compassion to help you understand where they’re coming from and what they’re going through,” said Nurse.


There are ups and downs in play and confidence, he added. After a less-than-impressive game in Orlando during the playoffs last year, Nurse told Kawhi Leonard, Kyle Lowry and Fred VanVleet that they were the stars of the team and needed to be better.

A Varsity Blues basketball player wanted to know what Nurse preaches all the time that gets overlooked by players.

“Shooting. I don’t understand why more players and coaches don’t devour the art of shooting, why they don’t study it and practice it more,” said Nurse. He noted that VanVleet was struggling early on in the playoffs, getting three threepointers blocked in one early game against Orlando.

—Nick Nurse

“We said, ‘Let’s get you out of the corners, let’s move you five feet behind the arcs,’ and he went to work like crazy.” Another member of the audience wanted to know how attitudes have changed since Leonard’s departure. Nurse said he hadn’t noticed a difference and that players still love coming to Toronto to play the Raptors. Nurse wrapped up with a personal reflection for the Blues players in attendance. “You’re lucky to live in one of the greatest cities in the world, going to one of the greatest schools in the world. I envy you and I hope my sons can come here.”


Field Notes

By Janet Gunn

Campaign celebrates the purchase of two new shells


hen U of T alumni rowers Len Diplock and Kate Cochrane-Brink joined forces to co-chair a campaign to support a high-performance rowing program, they wanted to get back to their tradition of success at the highest level. Rowing’s 120-year history at U of T boasts numerous championships, international regatta titles and Olympic medals. There have also been times when the Club has struggled to survive. Now the Varsity Blues rowing team has success in their sights once again. Thanks to the support of two gifts, rowing alumni and friends celebrated the christening of two new HW 8+ shells. The first is in memory of Kiran van Rijn, who was an inspiring leader on the Varsity Blues before his death in 2005, doing what he loved – rowing on a beautiful fall morning at home in British Columbia. Gary Stinson, van Rijn’s coach while he was at U of T, thought it was a good time to remember van Rijn by naming a new shell. Gary Stinson, along with rowing alumni Robert DaCunha and Celine Devlin launched a fundraising initiative to purchase a men’s 8+ shell in Kiran’s name. van Rijn’s mother, Carol, travelled from Vancouver to help christen the shell Photo/ Charles Huang

alongside head coach Mark Williams, friends and crewmates. Carol says, “I am very honoured. It has been 14 years since my son died and it is deeply touching to know that he is still fondly remembered. Now his legacy will live on connected to the sport he loved so much.” A new women’s HW 8+ shell was also purchased and christened, thanks to the ongoing support of David Harquail, a University of Toronto Rowing Club member from 1975 to 1978. A skilled rower, he participated in the Henley, the Head of Trent and was an OUAA champion. Harquail named the shell “Midas Touch”, in honour of his family foundation called the Midas Touch Foundation. Harquail says: “Rowing has a strong history at U of T and I look back on my years with the Varsity Blues very fondly. When you have the right leaders, team and equipment for training and competition, you have the formula for success. I am happy to help U of T continue its tradition of being one of the finest rowing programs in Canada.” To date, $350,000 has been raised towards the goal of $500,000. If you are interested in learning more, please contact Natalie Agro, Senior Development Officer, at 416-978-6944 or

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Alumni Updates


KPE’s winning connection to the Raptors By Elaine Evans


ll of Canada came together to cheer on the Raptors as they took home the incredible world championship title in the NBA playoffs. Millions of people felt a personal connection to the team as they battled their way to the top, but none more than the staff on the sidelines. This includes KPE’s very own Noah John. John, a kinesiology grad, has been the team attendant for the Toronto Raptors and the Raptors 905 team for the past four years. John works with the medical, performance and equipment teams, as well as the visiting teams on game days. During the playing season, he assists with workouts and warm-ups, and in the off-season he shifts to performance training and testing. It’s a dream role for John. “Everyday is another lesson,” he says. “There are so many areas I get to grow in as a kinesiology professional and also just as a person.” John credits his time in the KPE kinesiology program for giving him the skills necessary to excel in this fast-paced and demanding role.


Photo/ Courtesy of Noah John

Alumni Updates

“I believe U of T’s expectation for excellence in all the work we present and complete helped me understand this push for greatness that everyone in the organization possesses,” he says. His studies in KPE not only provided him with an strong base of scientific knowledge but also with the confidence to ask questions. “This habit of not being scared to ask questions has helped me learn a lot more with the team, especially in my first season and summer as it has opened up so many conversations with a plethora of people in the organization.” Each year, John’s role is filled with challenges, energy and excitement, but 2019 took it to another level entirely. “Getting to see some of the players’ evolutions into NBA stars was big for me,” says John, “specifically guys like Pascal Siakam and Fred VanVleet who were with the Raptors 905 in my first year and are now lighting up the big league. Getting to see first-hand how development can flourish into real tangible success was eye opening and very inspiring.” This year, John not only got to be a part of the team’s big win, he also secured a spot on the players’ bus during the infamous Raps celebratory parade. “As a kid growing up I used to always act out and imagine the Raptors winning the championship,” he says, “so getting to not only be a fan and go to the parade but be an actual part of the celebration was beyond surreal for me. I don’t think I will ever forget a moment of it.”

Pursuit | Winter 2020


Alumni Updates

Ian Macdonald

A lifelong lover of athletics By Elaine Evans


Alumni Updates

Ian Macdonald can pinpoint the exact moment that his life changed forever. It was in grade school during the 100 yard dash. “It was liberating,” Macdonald says. “Suddenly I felt like a bird that had taken flight.” He had discovered the world of athletics. Embracing sports and the discipline that came with them would set Macdonald on a path for success that would see him take on esteemed leadership roles in academics, government and competitive sports. Macdonald’s passion for athletics followed him from grade school to high school and then to the University of Toronto, where he studied commerce. He was an all-star member of the Varsity Blues track and field team and the University College intramural hockey team, which was quite the balancing act with a full class load. “It was all a scramble to coordinate classes, practices, races and games,” he says. “I remember hauling my hockey equipment down to the university on the streetcar. I carried it around to a variety of classes.”

“We had faculty member hockey every Friday morning at York,” he says. “No matter what, we just made it happen.” An unexpected bonus? “I actually learned a lot about the affairs of the university from the dressing-room talk!” Macdonald’s involvement in the world of hockey wasn’t restricted to his personal life. He was chairman of Hockey Canada from 1987 to 1994 with responsibility for Canada’s international Ice Hockey Team in the world championships and Olympic events.

He also served as vice-chairman of the Canadian Hockey Association from 1995-96 and is an honorary life member of the Canadian Olympic Association. The moment he “Throughout my life, it has struck me that cherishes most from this time occurred in 1994, as he prepared the most important thing for physical survival and well-being is to keep on going, to wrap up his role as chairman of Hockey Canada. so that’s exactly what I intend to do.”

Having come to U of T on a scholarship, Macdonald was careful to keep his grades up. He drew upon his training as a Varsity Blue to help him get through the busiest days. “Playing sports instils that notion that you get up in the morning and life is a challenge and you compete,” he says. “That’s the nature of things. I was dedicated to hard work, which is the secret to success in anything.” Macdonald has fond memories of his time on both the ice and on the track, but it was his hours on the old Varsity Stadium cinder track that left a lasting impression – literally. “I’ve still got a piece of the old track in my elbow from when the hurdles were made of heavy wood and did not swing forward if you hit them,” he says. “I call it my lifetime souvenir!” Photo/ John Hryniuk

Macdonald went off to Oxford University as a Rhodes Scholar, earning both his M.A. and his B.Phil. (Econ.). Afterward, he accepted a teaching job at the University of Toronto and was appointed assistant professor of economics. Two of his students were UTSC principal former KPE dean Bruce Kidd, and Varsity Blues track and field Hall of Famer Abby Hoffman. A shift into the Ontario government saw Macdonald hold many prestigious roles in the Department of Economics and Development, as Chief Economist of Ontario, then as Deputy Treasurer and Deputy Minister of Economics and Intergovernmental Affairs.

– Ian Macdonald When the world of academia lured him back and he took on the role of president of York University, Macdonald again drew on his experience as an athlete to guide him.

“Canada won its first world ice hockey championship in 30 years in Milan, Italy,” he says. “My wife and I were there for that!” Even now, at age 90, Macdonald still finds time to play hockey two hours every Friday morning.

“I likened it to the concept of being on a “The hockey has always been quite team,” he says. “That was the view I always competitive because there are a lot of took about any leadership role. When I very good players,” he says. “Of course started at York I never thought it was about as the oldest of us get older and new me. It was about making the team work blood comes in, the disparity in age has and getting everyone to do their best.” become quite extensive. I’m playing with some people 60 years younger.” After a decade as president of York, he continued to work at the University as But Macdonald has never been one to professor of public policy and economics shy away from a challenge. And sports and director of the Master of Public will always have a place in his life. Administration program. Throughout it all, Macdonald always found time to stay “Throughout my life, it has struck me that active. Though his days jumping hurdles the most important thing for physical on the Varsity track were well behind survival and well-being is to keep on him, Macdonald’s love of sport and going,” he says. “So that’s exactly what I appreciation of its benefits inspired him intend to do.” to continue playing hockey. Pursuit | Winter 2020


Alumni Updates

Big Win sends KPE alumnus Erica Gavel to the 2020 Paralympics By Elaine Evans


he stakes were high at the recent Parapan Am women’s wheelchair basketball tournament in Peru, but the unflappable Team Canada fought hard and nabbed the gold medal.

KPE alumnus Erica Gavel, a member of Team Canada, will never, ever forget that moment. “Hands down it was the most amazing experience of my entire life,” she says. “I’m still speechless.” During the game, Team USA and Team Canada tied up the score a total of 10 times and experienced six lead changes before Canada won 67-64. The win means that Gavel and the team will be heading to the 2020 Paralympic Games in Tokyo, Japan, along with Team USA. It was an incredible feat but one that Gavel insists wouldn’t have been possible without the support she had from everyone at the Faculty. Throughout the year, Gavel was balancing the intense Team Canada training and game schedules with her Masters in Exercise Science at KPE. “My schedule doesn’t have a lot of flexibility,” she says. “I’m lucky that everyone at KPE has been so accommodating, especially my supervisor, Professor Scott Thomas, my committee


members, Professor Ira Jacobs and Assistant Professor Heather Logan-Sprenger, and my basketball coaches. There would have been no way I could have balanced it all without their understanding. I can’t even describe how grateful I am for them.” Indeed, Gavel’s schedule was so hectic that she recalls submitting every major checkpoint for her master’s thesis from a different country or continent. “The first checkpoint was France, then Japan, then another one from Germany, then I recently submitted everything from Peru,” she says with a laugh. The recent victory was especially meaningful for Gavel, who once thought she would never play again after a devastating knee injury ended her standup basketball career. Four years later, she’s preparing to head to the Paralympics. “I wouldn’t have believed it if you told me,” she says. “It’s been the most incredible journey.” she says. Now that she’s completed her masters degree and has a gold medal under her belt, Gavel will be focusing on starting her PhD at Ontario Tech University with Logan-Sprenger and begin training for the 2020 Tokyo Paralympic Summer Games. Photo/ Courtesy of Erica Gavel

JOIN ME. LEAVE A LEGACY. KRISTINE DRAKICH has logged countless hours on volleyball courts at U of T and around the world, as a standout player and an inspiring coach and mentor. She has chosen to leave a legacy gift in her will, to support the programs she believes in. You can do the same. By planning your bequest now, you can ensure that our academic, research and athletics programs continue to grow and evolve for the benefit of future generations.

“My heart is in U of T. I credit my mentors for inspiring me to be a coach and the volleyball program for inspiring young women to lead. Through sports you learn how to take risks, be resilient and make a difference. I want to continue supporting the incredible women who flourish in this program and I want to help make a difference to those who come long after us.�

To learn more or to discuss making a planned gift to the Faculty, please contact Robin Campbell, Executive Director, Advancement and Alumni Affairs, Samantha Barr, Manager, Alumni Relations and Advancement Campaigns,

Alumni Updates

Class Notes

Kylie Masse

BKin 2019, Swimming Former Varsity Blues swimmer Kylie Masse competed at the 2019 Fédération Internationale de Natation (FINA) world championships in Gwangju, South Korea. She ended the meet with a gold medal in the 100m backstroke and two bronze medals in the 200m backstroke and 4x100m medley relay.

Peter Koutroumpis

Nicholas Saul

Gabriela DeBues-Stafford Mark Tewksbury TBD, Track and Field, Cross Country

Hon LLD, Swimming

In July, Peter Koutroumpis was promoted to senior lecturer in the Department of Health and Exercise Studies (HES) at North Carolina State University (Raleigh, NC). In this role, he instructs practical skills and theory in a variety of team and individual sports and presents on wellness theory as all students are required to complete a minimum of two credits in health and wellness courses before graduation.

Nicholas Saul was made a Member of the Order of Canada for his “innovative vision and leadership as president and CEO of Community Food Centres Canada,” a national antipoverty organization that supports access to food in low-income neighbourhoods. Saul graduated with a Bachelor of Arts in history from U of T in 1990, and was also captain of the Varsity basketball team.

In July, Gabriela DeBuesStafford won the women’s 1500 metres at the 2019 Canadian track and field championships in Montreal. She crossed the finish line in a time of 4:09.09 for her fourth consecutive 1500metre Canadian title. Earlier in the month, she broke her fifth Canadian record of 2019 at the Müller Anniversary Games Diamond League event in London, England. Gabriela beat a near-34year-old mark by 1/100th of a second in the women’s 1500 metres.

Mark Tewksbury’s many achievements were recognized during this year’s Convocation festivities by the University of Toronto with a Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, for “his excellence in sport, as a record-breaking swimmer, athlete advocate, LGBTQ human rights advocate and role model.” As a swimmer, Mark earned 13 national championships and four Commonwealth Games gold medals and, in 1992, achieved Olympic glory by winning the gold medal in the 100-metre backstroke in Barcelona, Spain.

BPHE 1994


BA 1990 VIC, Basketball

Photo/ Courtesy Swimming Canada/Joseph Kleindl

Now Available

In-Store & Online VISIT THE VARSITY SPORTS STORE Located in the Athletic Centre 55 Harbord Street Shop online 24/7 at

@Uof TBookstores

Carl Georgevski

Head Coach, Track & Field 24th Season

Byron MacDonald Head Coach, Swimming 42nd Season

©2019 Thomas Bollmann/Seed9

Alumni Updates

Getting Together

Hall of Fame

The 1988-89 Women’s Volleyball team celebrates their induction into the Hall of Fame.

IN MAY, THE FACULTY celebrated nine individuals and two teams for their contributions to U of T’s outstanding athletic legacy at the annual Sports Hall of Fame induction ceremony. The inductees were selected from sports as varied as football, badminton, tennis, hockey and volleyball. Taking their turn on the podium to receive their awards, the athletes thanked their families, coaches and teammates for providing them with the support, motivation and inspiration they needed to achieve their success. To learn more about this year’s inductees, please go to

1969 50th Reunion

Standing (left to right): Ed Richardson, Marion Muirhead, Gail George, Ted George, Anne Lowden. Seated (left to right): Maddie MacLeod, Jennie Mayer, John Milliken, Eleanor Milliken, Helen Duncan, Gloria Torrance.

1954 Reunion THE PHE CLASS OF 1954 celebrated their 65th reunion with a gathering in June. Special thanks to Anne Lowden for hosting the group and bringing everyone together.


Front row (left to right): Lynn Stratten, Judy Braaten, Maureen Hanna, Janet Mullin, Lynn McGregor, Gaye Stratten, Jim Coutts. Back row (left to right): Barbara Shorrock, Diane Ellis, Ron Kishimoto, Jack Hanna, Don Ellis, Pauline Kishimoto, Bill Nepotiuk.

THE CLASS OF 1969 celebrated together at this year’s 50th Anniversary Ceremony in June. The PHE alumni received a commemorative medal and had their photos taken with Meric Gertler, president of the University, and Scott MacKendrick, president of the U of T Alumni Association. Of course, they couldn’t resist gathering outside of Convocation Hall for a group photo (and a few happy hugs) before the festivities got underway.

Photos/ Top/ Seyran Mammadov/ Bottom Left/ courtesy of Anne Lowden Bottom Right/ courtesy of the University of Toronto

Alumni FieldUpdates Notes

Jayna Hefford Inducted into Canadian Sports Hall of Fame FOLLOWING HER EXCITING 2018 induction into the Hockey Hall of Fame, KPE Alumnus and Blues hockey star Jayna Hefford has been inducted into the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame. The four-time Olympic gold medalist is in great company with this recent group of inductees, which includes NHL star Martin Brodeur, water polo player Waneek Horn-Miller and freestyle skier Alex Bilodeau. “I was incredibly humbled,” says Jayna. “Those who are already members of the Canadian Sports Hall of Fame have left great impressions on me as a young female athlete, so to be included in a group like this is incredible.” It’s a milestone year for female athletes, as the Hall of Fame unveiled a new exhibit profiling Canadian women’s achievements in sport, and five of the eight inductees are women. “I’m very proud,” says Jayna. “I hope my career can be an inspiration to some of Canada’s next great athletes.” — EE

Blues Football Alumni Football Golf Tournament

Men’s Hockey Golf Tournament

Field Hockey Golf Tournament

Recent 1974 Football Hall of Fame inductees Alumni and friends enjoyed a perfect summer day at the annual Blues Football Alumni Network (BFAN) Golf Tournament on July 30, 2019, at King Valley Golf Club. Over 100 golfers came together to celebrate their love of the Blues and support the student-athletes on the field this fall. Thank you to all the sponsors, donors and volunteers who made the event such a success.

On July 8, nearly 100 golfers enjoyed an afternoon on the links in support of the Varsity Blues men’s hockey program. Thank you to all the attendees, donors, hole sponsors and alumni who sponsored the attendance of a current student-athlete. A highlight of the event was the keynote speaker, Tom Watt, who shared his passion and his dedication to the program. Special thanks to Wendy Kane for making the day possible.

On August 17, Varsity Blues field hockey hosted their fundraising golf tournament. 47 golfers (comprising alumni, friends, family, other field hockey supporters, and some current athletes) and 63 dinner guests raised just shy of $6000 for the program. Attendees enjoyed keynote speeches from two alumnae (Bernadette Bowyer and Lauren Sudac) who spoke about their experiences as a Varsity Blue and delivered some inspiring take-home messages for the athletes.

From left to right: Rick Jeysman, Richard Nakatsu, Brent Elsey and Mark Ackley.

From left to right: Dean Usher, Mark Usher, Chris Vickers and Steve Rosebrook.

From left to right: Rebecca Carvalho, Isabella Watson, Madeline Sherwood, Katie Lynes, Abi Mendonca, Cassius Mendonca (Head Coach)

Photos/ Top/KPE Archives/ Bottom Left/ Courtesy of the Varsity Blues Bottom Middle/ Ace Services Bottom Right/ Malinda Hapuarachchi

Pursuit | Winter 2020


In Memory

We Remember ... Remembering Andy Higgins

By Jelena Damjanovic coached Dave Steen to Canada’s first Olympic medal, a bronze, in the decathlon. He also coached decathlete Michael Smith to world championship silver and bronze medals.

The University of Toronto’s Varsity Blues community was saddened to learn of the death of track coach Andy Higgins in early April. Higgins graduated from the School of Physical and Health Education (as the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education was then known) in 1959. He wrote and delivered the first formal coaching education/certification program in Canada in 1970 and established the U of T Track Club in 1971, creating its first women’s program in 1974.

“Andy was the type of coach who always let the athletes take the credit for their incredible achievements,” says Georgevski. “You would never find Andy with his arms around an athlete who had just won a meet, however you could always find him close to an athlete who just had a horrendous performance. He always made it perfectly clear that we were not our performance.

Under his leadership, the Blues won 21 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) track titles, six Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (recently renamed University Sports) titles and 21 national cross country medals. Carl Georgevski, U of T’s track and field head coach, first met Higgins in 1969 as a grade nine student in the Monarch Park Collegiate Institute where Higgins taught physical education. “Andy was an incredible man. Gracious, compassionate and gentle, he touched the lives of so many young people. He literally changed our lives for the better by showing us what’s possible,” says Georgevski. “Like all great coaches, he had more confidence in our abilities than we did ourselves.” In a coaching career that spanned over 40 years, Higgins guided a number of Varsity Blues athletes to compete at international games and championships, including Louise Walker, Jill Ross and Catherine Bond-Mills, who all competed at the Olympic Games. In 1988, he

Alfredo Albi BPHE 1982, Football

John W. Casey BASc 1958, Football, Hockey

Fred passed away suddenly in April at the age of 60. He will be remembered as a devoted husband and father, outstanding educator, dedicated businessman, world traveller and chef extraordinaire.

John passed away in June at the age of 84. During his time with the Blues, John earned the George M. Biggs Memorial Trophy and the Johnny Copp Trophy. He later played for the Toronto Argonauts for four seasons. After graduating, John taught high school math for 15 years, coached football, authored a math textbook and built a family cottage and many houses.

James Bromley BASc 1946, Hockey Jim passed away in July, the day after his 97th birthday. After graduation, Jim continued the family tradition and joined the Canadian Pacific Railroad. He started as a transitman and rose through the ranks to the position of executive vice-president for Western Canada. He retired in 1990. He played golf and hockey into his 90s, and his hockey opponents soon learned to stay away from his elbows.


Dr. E.G. (Ted) Cross MD 1948, Track and Field Ted passed away in May at the age of 93. After graduation, he joined the staff of Toronto East General Hospital in 1955, serving as the chief of medicine for 10 years. He was an exceptional diagnostician and a constant learner who brought warmth and leadership to all he did. He loved sports and competed in track at the Canadian Masters games.

“Andy guided his athletes without ever yelling, pushing or making them feel guilty about anything,” says Georgevski. “It was never about earning coaching points for him. He always coached the person.” Higgins was founder of the Canadian Professional Coaches Association (now Coaches of Canada) and the Coaches Association of Ontario. He was also the first director of the National Coaching Institute-Ontario, a position he held until 1999. In 2001, he was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame as a coach and in 2007 he received the Geoff Gowan Award, presented by the Coaching Association of Canada, in recognition of his lifetime contribution to coaching. His book, Best Coaches, Best Practices, is considered essential reading for sports mentors. Higgins was inducted into U of T’s Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in 2007 and into Athletics Ontario in 2011. He was inducted into the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2015.

Dr. Roberta Charlesworth (nee McDonald) BA 1941 UC, MA 1960, EdD 1977, Basketball, Swimming Roberta passed away at the age of 99 in March. After leaving U of T, Roberta had a career in teaching and taught English and physical education. She retired in 1984. She was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame as part of the inaugural cohort in 1987. She will be remembered by her friends as a scholar, athlete, coach, teacher and mentor.

Ruth Colwell (nee McMullen) BPHE 1971, BEd 1972, Gymnastics Ruth passed away in June at the age of 71.

Ira Ebeling (nee Karila) BPHE 1953 Ira passed away in March at the age of 87. After leaving U of T, she taught in the Bloomington, Minnesota school district. Ira downhill skied into her 80s and enjoyed playing bridge. She and her husband, John, competed in horseshoes at their northern cabin.

Norman Fox BComm 1952 VIC, Hockey Norm passed away in July at the age of 89. He played his final golf game the day before entering the hospital. Norm taught at University of Toronto Schools from 1968 until his retirement in 1991. He had a passion for sports, jigsaw puzzles, food (especially ice cream) and travel, which he joyfully shared with his family.

Photo/ Torontonensis

In Memory

Andy Higgins BPHE 1959, Wrestling Andy passed away in April at the age of 81. Andy established the University of Toronto Track Club in 1971, creating its first women’s program in 1974. Under his leadership, the Blues won 21 provincial track titles, six national track titles and 21 national cross country medals. In 2001, he was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame as a coach. Andy was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame as a Builder in 2007, the Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame in 2011 and the Athletics Canada Hall of Fame in 2015. Gifts in Andy’s memory can be made at: andy-higgins

Viiu Kanep BPHE 1961, BEd 1972 OISE, Volleyball Viiu passed away in July at the age of 80. She was the inaugural winner of the Dr. Clara Benson Honour Award in 1962, in recognition of her outstanding ability in athletics and scholarship. She helped organize the opening of the Clara Benson Building, the University’s first athletic facility for women. After graduation, Viiu went on to a career in teaching and continued giving back to U of T. In honour of her achievements, Viiu was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame as an Athlete in 1991 and as a Builder in 2017. Gifts in Viiu’s memory can be made at:

David Roulston BPHE 1982

David passed away in January at the age of 62. Always larger than life, his friends and family will remember his passion and enthusiasm in his teaching, coaching, gaming, golfing, comic book collecting and all his other endeavours.

Dr. Thomas (Jack) Sheppard MD 1953, Rowing Jack passed away in April at the age of 89. Jack will be remembered as a dedicated obstetrician-gynecologist who delivered nearly 10,000 babies and saved countless lives with his unshakeable skill.

Louis Simon BASc 1963, Boxing

Ted Ingson BA 1958 SMC, Football

Dr. Jack Langmaid DDS 1949, Tennis

Ted passed away in January at the age of 82. During his childhood he developed a strong work ethic that he carried throughout his life, and retired after an accomplished career with the Department of Defense. He enjoyed travelling, bowling, telling jokes and collecting.

Jack died in May at the age of 93. Jack was well known in the Oshawa area as an orthodontist who practiced from 1952 until his retirement at age 75. Jack had natural athleticism and a passion for competition in many sports, including baseball, tennis, golf, sailing and windsurfing. He even enjoyed skiing at his local club until age 92.

Louis passed away in February at the age of 85. After leaving U of T, Louis worked at Crown Cork & Seal, where he was a dedicated employee for over 30 years. He was the Middleweight Boxing Champion for Germany in the early 1950s, a passionate skier and worked as a volunteer with Canoe FM in Haliburton.

Linda Pint (nee Kriisa) BPHE 1959, Swimming

Donald J. Stevens BPHE 1969, BEd 1970 OISE, Water Polo

Stephen Irwin BArch 1961, Track and Field Stephen passed away in March shortly before his 80th birthday. After leaving U of T, Stephen received a master’s degree in architecture at Harvard. He retired from his role as senior partner at Shore Tilbe Irwin & Partners in 2011. His lifelong passions included architecture, sports, fishing, shooting, travelling, the family farm, and good food and wine.

Kenneth Jessop BASc 1953, Soccer Ken passed away in July at the age of 89. He had a distinguished career with Uniroyal Chemical in Elmira until retiring in 1991. He was active in the Class of 5T3 alumni group for many years and refereed with his local soccer leagues. In his retirement, Ken took pleasure in cruising the high seas, vacationing in Portugal and sitting on his backyard deck.

Linda passed away at the age of 83 in July.

Dr. Brian Pronger BA 1980 TRIN, MSc 1991, PhD 1997 Brian passed away in October 2018 at the age of 65. Brian completed his PhD in Philosophy and Exercise Science and was appointed associate professor in the Faculty in the early 1990s. Professor Ira Jacobs, dean of KPE, described Brian as a brilliant scholar, eloquent speaker, mesmerizing debater, swimmer and activist for social justice, remarking that “he had a remarkable impact in a short period of time on the Faculty, the University of Toronto and his field of scholarship.” Gifts in Brian’s memory can be made at:

Don passed away in May at the age of 72. After leaving U of T, Don dedicated his life to teaching, mentorship and excellence in athletics through coaching. An avid athlete himself, Don loved the outdoors and active living; he could often be found outside distance running, cycling, hiking or camping.

Gilbert Toppin BScF 1953, Squash, Soccer Gil passed away in April at the age of 88. After leaving U of T, Gil joined Underwriters Laboratories of Canada (ULC) as an inspector and worked his way up to become vice-president. Gil loved and excelled in many sports, including cricket, tennis, soccer, track and field, golf and croquet.

Dr. Alexander Bruce Tucker DDS 1970, Track and Field Bruce passed away in April at the age of 72. Bruce joined a dental practice in Burnaby before opening a practice in Kamloops. Bruce had a true passion for sport and was an active member of the community. He loved dentistry and was a lifelong student, even volunteering his services after his retirement.

John Tucker BA 1952 VIC, Rugby John passed away suddenly in January at the age of 88.

Dr. Alfred Vaughan DDS 1958, Basketball Al passed away in April at the age of 84. Al was a top scorer for the 1958 Varsity Blues, a U of T Sports Hall of Fame team which lost only one game and won the OUAA title. He practiced dentistry for over 30 years. He later won three Ontario age group championships in squash doubles and was a longtime member of the Toronto Racquet Club.

Murray McCheyne Thomson O.C. BA 1947 VIC, Basketball, Tennis Murray passed away in May at the age of 96. During his remarkable life, he campaigned for adult education, international development, peace and nuclear disarmament. He received the Pearson Medal of Peace in 1990 and was made an Officer of the Order of Canada in 2001. Friends will remember his deep concern and tireless pursuit of social justice up until his last days.

Our condolences to friends and family. If you have an in memory note to share, please contact Samantha Barr at Pursuit | Winter 2020



All-Star Snyder brothers

inducted into Hall of Fame


HORTLY before the First World War broke out, the game of badminton was one of the most popular sports around. And two brothers – Jim and Paul Snyder – were the talk of the town. Born in Waterloo, Ontario, Jim and Paul were two of five Snyder children. The family ran the successful Snyder Furniture Company in Waterloo.

The brothers had always been close, but a shared love of badminton made them inseparable. Jim won the Canadian men’s singles badminton championship, and together Jim and Paul won two Canadian badminton championships, singles and doubles. Perhaps most famously, they teamed up for an epic showdown on stage at Massey Hall, where they defeated the reigning professional doubles champions in a sold-out show. One newspaper described them as “the Howes of badminton”, a reference to the legendary Howe brothers of hockey. The brothers took their love of the sport to the University of Toronto, where Jim played badminton and football, and Paul played badminton and tennis. The Second World War broke out and both brothers enlisted in the Royal


Canadian Air Force. Tragically, Paul did not return from the war. He died in combat on June 12, 1941. Jim was severely injured during a crash in Nova Scotia. His injures ultimately forced him to retire from his days as an active player, but he never lost his passion for athletics. “Dad was an avid sports fan – virtually all sports,” reflects his daughter Kit Cameron. “He had season tickets for the Tiger Cats and was a fan of CFL and NFL football. He would let us stay up to watch Hockey Night in Canada and carry us to bed after the first period. He encouraged all five of us kids to ski and play hockey, baseball and football. He failed at getting us interested in badminton, but he tried!” Fittingly, both brothers were recently inducted into the Sports Hall of Fame at the University. The room was filled with touched family members. “It made us all feel very proud of his athletic accomplishments,” said his son Paul. “He would have been honoured, privately delighted and publicly humbled.” — EE Photos/ Courtesy of the Snyder Family



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