Pursuit - Spring 2016

Page 1

Spring 2016 / Vol. 19, No. 1

University of Toronto

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education

We've Got Game

Inside The NBA All-star weekend


Record season for Blues

New home for Research

on Mental Health and Physical Activity

Breaking Down Barriers

Symposium on Sport, Sex and Identity

Spring 2016 / Vol. 19, No. 1


EDITOR Sarah Baker ASSOCIATE EDITORS Katie Babcock Jelena Damjanovic CONTRIBUTORS Katie Babcock, Jill Clark, Don Campbell, Lee Campbell, Jelena Damjanovic, Jordon Hall, Valerie Iancovich, Rachel Keeling, Olivia Tomic, Larysa Woloszansky PHOTOGRAPHY Martin Bazyl, Nabil Elderkin, Viviane Grassmann, John Hryniuk, Joel Jackson, Ken Jones, Jing-Ling Kao-Beserve, Arnold Lan, Sandy Nicholson, Seed9 ART DIRECTion and Design Joel Jackson

PURSUIT is published twice a year by U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education. www.pursuit.utoronto.ca Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to: Pursuit 55 Harbord Street Toronto, ON M5S 2W6



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Contents Faculty Notes 4 Sport, Sex and Identity Symposium

22 Cover That time the NBA came to town


Profile 28 Alumni From local leadership to global growth

Blues News Varsity Blues give back

Tips Out 21 Fit 36 Time Staying fit and healthy in five easy steps Badges of honour

COVER/ Joel Jackson

Dean's Message Champions in sports and research As we step into summer, we are happy to share the news of some exciting Faculty initiatives coming to life, while looking back with pride at the many wonderful achievements by our community in the past academic year. With 14 banners under their belt, the Blues capped off an incredible season that saw the women’s volleyball team win their first-ever Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) title, the women’s golf team earn their fourth straight Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship, and the men’s swimming team win their 13th straight OUA title. And that’s just scratching the surface. (Read more about the Blues spectacular season on pages 16-17). Congratulations to all of the student athletes and members of the coaching and support staff. We will be on the lookout for some of you in Rio. (Read more about our Olympic hopefuls on pages 18-19). In February, the Blues men’s basketball team had the unique opportunity of showcasing their skills as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend. For the first time in its history, the NBA All-Star game was held outside the US – and the choice of Toronto for host city is not only indicative of the strength of Canadian basketball, but also of all that our city has to offer. Our Faculty was delighted to host the first and last stop for the Canada-wide NBA All-Star challenge at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport and to cheer on the Blues as they went head to head with the Ryerson Rams in the pre-event showcase of the All-Star game. Read more about the impact of this event on pages 22-27.



While our student athletes poured sweat on the courts, fields, rinks and pools, our researchers were hard at work launching the Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre (MPARC), one of the first research facilities in Canada to integrate the study of physical activity and mental health. Housed at the Athletic Centre, this multidisciplinary centre will address the enormous burden of mental health issues, shown to be affecting one in five Canadian adults.* Led by KPE professors Catherine Sabiston, Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos and Guy Faulkner, researchers will study how exercise can improve quality of life. You can read more about this exciting and important research centre on page 8. In the fall 2015 issue of Pursuit, we shared with you the exciting news about the launch of the Master of Professional Kinesiology (MPK) program. We are thrilled to welcome the first MPK class in August 2016, and look forward to following their progress in the years ahead. There are so many wonderful stories that we are pleased to share with our readers – these are but a few of the highlights. We welcome your feedback on your favourite stories – as well as ideas for future issues. On behalf of the Faculty, I wish you all a safe and healthy summer. Gretchen Kerr, Acting Dean

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education *According to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health.

PHOTO/ Seed9

On a roll: Varsity Blues Devin Johnson goEs for a shot in the game against Ryerson

PHOTO/ Martin Bazyl



Faculty Notes Dean's Message

Breaking down barriers: Sport, Sex and Identity Symposium When Olympic gold medalist Mark Tewksbury came out in 1998, he challenged people’s perceptions of sexual identity and sport: he was masculine, a competitive athlete and he was gay. Since his announcement, much progress has been made in gender equity and sexual diversity in sport. But there’s still a long way to go. The dialogue he started 18 years ago continued as he moderated the Faculty’s Sport, Sex and Identity Symposium. Held at the Isabel Bader Theatre on April 6, the symposium featured four of the Faculty’s leading researchers who discussed how sport reflects and defines our cultural identity, shapes gender roles and impacts human rights. This year’s event, the ninth instalment of the public lecture series, encouraged U of T students, staff, faculty, alumni and community partners to join the discussion. “This symposium showcases the Faculty’s ground-breaking research, which affects every Canadian from the community level to the highest level of competitive sport,” said Associate Professor Luc Tremblay, who is also the Faculty’s associate dean of research and chair of the symposium organizing committee. “We want to stimulate debate and break down the barriers that prevent people from being physically active.”



Kicking off the event, Associate Professor Margaret MacNeill described sport media as a barrier that reinforces strict gender stereotypes and excludes minorities. “We tease apart sex and gender in sport and the media – there are the men’s and women’s events in the Olympics, for example. But in reality, an individual experiences culture and biology together and their identity is often fluid.” MacNeill urged the audience to use social media to celebrate individuality and diversity and create a more inclusive dialogue. Beyond the media, masculine stereotypes linking male identity and sport performance create another form of barrier. “Males are expected to be strong, aggressive and resilient, but masculinity should not be directly tied to athleticism and emotionality should not be stigmatized,” said Professor Michael Atkinson, who is the Faculty’s acting vice-dean of academic affairs. “We need to question the assumptions we hold about gender, sexuality and sport.” Also questioning these assumptions, Associate Professor Caroline Fusco presented the Change Room Project, an exhibition designed to challenge norms of exclusion by reflecting LGBTQ students’ experiences in locker rooms. Fusco showed a vinyl installation from a graduate student that read, “I push through the anxiety around locker rooms because I want to go to the gym. I know other people let that stop them from working out.”

Keynote speaker Professor Bruce Kidd wrapped up the evening with a discussion of how sport policies can lead to gender policing in competitive sport. He shared some of his experience as an international advisor in the ongoing struggle against sex testing and discrimination against Dutee Chand, a female sprinter with naturally high testosterone levels. Chand’s coach, manager and the Indian Athletic Federation encouraged her to undergo medical treatment to lower her testosterone to comply with the IOC and IAAF regulations, but she refused. With Kidd’s help, she is now seeking to abolish this policy.

“We should respect the essential right of gender selfidentity, which is fundamental to human rights and the ideal of self-expression that is the basis of sport,” said Kidd, former dean of the Faculty and vice-president and principal of University of Toronto Scarborough. “Dutee said it best, ‘I still do not understand why the IOC or IAAF think they may need such a rule at all. I should be able to run the way I was born.’” While the struggle for gender equity and sexual diversity continues the world over, the symposium presented a local opportunity to pose often unasked questions, advance the discussion, showcase leading-edge research and, perhaps most importantly, promote individuality, physical activity and human rights. “Conversations make the world change,” said Tewksbury. “I’d like to salute U of T for hosting this public forum for the betterment of society and for shining a light on these challenging issues.” —Katie Babcock

t like the life where I fel n ow y m in e with who “I got to a plac so out of sync as w , as w I t ha ople stereotype of w ing that way . Pe liv p ee k ’t dn ul I co I fel t I was that t to be was just an ac it t bu , us eo ag t it said it was cour . When I came ou y call ti en th au live 998 myself and to December 15 ,1 as w It . es lin onal head rts hero m ade internati d Mail said ‘Spo an be lo G e th of or the front page time that a m aj rst fi e th as w ’. It declares he’s gay ue out there had put this iss y tr un co is th spor ts figure in ourse.” norm ative disc e th ged en all and it ch — Mark Tewksbu


y y of Mark Tewksbur PHOTO/ Courtes

This symposium was generously sponsored by U of T Affinity Partners MBNA and TD Insurance. PHOTO/ John Hryniuk




How Beyoncé stole the Super Bowl halftime show It wasn’t just Beyoncé’s performance that stole the Super Bowl halftime show from Coldplay. It was the political message she delivered, including references to everything from police brutality to standards of beauty. While many welcomed the act as a rallying cry for social awareness, there were others, like former New York City mayor Rudy Giuliani, who took offence at what he interpreted to be a call for violence against the police.

I think one only needs to look at the celebratory relationship between sports, nationalism and the military as a recurring example of politics in sport. At the same time, citizens have often looked to sport as a way to call attention to injustice or the need for social or political change. John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics is probably the most famous example of this (and Beyoncé’s performance made reference to it).

By contrast, the question of how well sports and politics mix likely depends Assistant Professor Simon Darnell talked on your point of view and your social to us about the mix of sport and politics station. I would say that criticism of and its potential to effect change. “politicizing” sport or the desire to keep sport free of politics is most often levied Darnell specializes in social movements by those who have the most to gain and activism in sport, with a particular from maintaining the political status focus on sport for development and peace. quo. How well do sports and politics mix? If the question is, do sports and politics mix? then the answer is a resounding “yes.” Governments have long used sport to build consent for their ideologies, their policies or to build prestige domestically or internationally. 6


Is it unusual for a sports event to be used to promote a political agenda? I don’t think it’s unusual for sports events to carry a political message or be connected to a political agenda. What is different about this year’s Super Bowl is that the NFL and its

partners have often been the ones to control the political narrative, and it seems this year that a star of Beyoncé’s calibre was able to claim some agency over the message. Is it a sign of the changing times that Beyoncé can sing about police brutality and Coldplay about marriage equality during the halftime show? I think it is, to a degree. The 1980s and 90s saw a general lack of political engagement by the world’s biggest sports stars. Michael Jordan and Charles Barkley famously separated themselves from politics. But it seems now that we are faced with such significant social and political issues – around issues of race, gender and inequality – that it is increasingly difficult for the world of sport to be insulated from such politics. Two other issues are significant. One is that corporate spectator sports, particularly the NFL, are bigger than they have ever been in terms of revenue and audiences, which means that they’re increasingly going to present an attractive platform for those who wish to start a political discussion or put forth a particular message. Another is that PHOTO/ Getty Images/ courtesy Hulton Archive

John Carlos and Tommie Smith and the Black Power salute at the 1968 Mexico Olympics

Research finds popular free fitness apps are inaccurate and unreliable

GPS navigator, recipe finder, camera, music player: the phones that most of us use today go well beyond voice-to-voice communication. stars and celebrities like Beyoncé and Jay-Z now enjoy a level of power and control that is fairly unprecedented. One could make the argument that the Super Bowl needed Beyoncé more than vice versa. And moguls like Jay-Z now own nearly the entire means of media production and consumption. I would say this gives them an opportunity and a platform to take a political stance that entertainers and athletes have not had before. What do you think the impact of this performance could be on the viewers, sports event organizers and the authorities? As for the impact of these kinds of events on audiences and citizens, that is always difficult to assess and even more difficult to measure. I’m sure there are some who are feeling that politics unnecessarily encroached into their football experience at this year’s Super Bowl. But I think, and I hope, that the larger message is that movements like Black Lives Matter are not simply reflective of niche politics. Rather, these are the issues of our time and they affect all of us. Being sports fans doesn’t afford us a space to ignore them. —Jelena Damjanovic

However, if you thought your smartphone could also serve as a pocket-sized personal trainer, research out of the Faculty has found that three of the most popular free apps designed to track fitness are seriously flawed. The evaluation, led by Professor Guy Faulkner and master’s student Krystn Orr, appeared in the journal BMC Research Notes. “We know that more and more Canadians want to take their health into their own hands, and these apps seem like a good way to do just that,” Orr says. “Self-evaluation can be very effective in lifestyle change as well, so it’s important that people are getting the most accurate information possible and using tools they can trust.” Accupedo, Moves, and Runtastic were the most popular free pedometer apps, so researchers ran each through a series of tests to measure their accuracy. Each is compatible with Android and Apple smartphones and gathers step stats via the phones’ built-in accelerometers, GPS navigation tools or a combination of both.

PHOTO/ istock


Subjects used the apps in a variety of scenarios. Most basic was a simple, 20-step test during which they wore a traditional pedometer on their hip and held the phone in their hand. In each instance, the pedometer was pretty much bang-on, but the phone apps were off by about 5 per cent. Similar results were found after a 40-step stair climb test, a treadmill test and three days of unstructured, regular activity. The team also found that the tools weren’t quite as smart as they claimed. When one researcher found her phone tallied steps when she was actually stuck in traffic, the team was inspired to add a driving test. The researchers found that with each app, the GPS tool interpreted slow car motion as walking. Their conclusion was that there is “an unacceptable error percentage in all of the applications when compared to the pedometer.” If you’re looking for a tool to help keep your fitness goals on track, Orr suggests investing in wearable technology designed specifically for tracking movement. If these options seem pricey, there is always the old-fashioned route. “Really, there’s no reason you can’t just stick to a traditional pedometer,” Orr says. “It’s probably the most reliable and costeffective tool for tracking your steps.”

—Valerie Iancovich




‘Sweat is the best antidepressant’ U of T opens Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre

In any given year, one in five Canadian adults will experience a mental illness or addiction, according to the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health. To deal with this urgent issue, the Faculty has launched the Mental Health and Physical Activity Research Centre (MPARC), one of the first research facilities in the world to integrate the study of physical activity and mental health. Opened in February at U of T᾽s Athletic Centre, this multidisciplinary centre will address the enormous burden of mental health issues. “Research shows that mental health is a serious issue on campus and in the community,” says Associate Professor Catherine Sabiston, one 8


of the centre’s researchers. “We’re committed to reducing mental health challenges by promoting physical activity and reducing sedentary behaviour, and providing long-term solutions.” While physical activity is one of the most effective ways to improve mental health, those dealing with mental health issues are commonly the least physically active. “The benefits of long-term physical activity are undeniable,” says Assistant Professor Kelly Arbour-Nicitopoulos, also a researcher at the centre. “But the Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines might not be realistic for some people, especially if they have mobility issues. Our programs will meet the needs of

diverse populations, including cancer survivors and people with spinal cord injuries.” To further meet these needs, the team will study how to incorporate sustainable long-term exercise into peoples’ lives outside the lab. “We want to develop programs that will not only work in the lab, but also translate to the real world,” says Sabiston. “For example, we’re partnering with U of T’s Health and Wellness Centre to help students exercise, set goals, self-monitor and manage stress. We want them to enjoy exercise and make it part of their lives.” The centre contains seven suites where Professors Sabiston, PHOTO/ Arnold Lan


Arbour-Nicitopoulos and Guy Faulkner will study how exercise can improve quality of life. It features accessible cardiovascular and strength training, psychological assessment, and data collection and analysis. One of the suites includes space to develop web- and app-based technology for mental health and exercise training. In the past, the team faced space limitations when collaborating with others, including the Centre for Addiction and Mental Health, Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital and Princess Margaret Hospital. This facility will now let them closely interact with local and international partners and create comprehensive programs. The centre was made possible by the financial support of the Canada Foundation for Innovation and the Ontario Research Fund. “Now that we have this state-of-the-art centre, we can do our own cutting-edge research and also contribute to larger multi-site projects,” says Faulkner. “Sweat is the best antidepressant, and MPARC will be a leading research centre, allowing us to discover and share knowledge about how best to get more people, more active, more often.” —KB

PHOTO/ Viviane Grassmann (Top) / Arnold Lan (Right)

Sabiston (second from the right) was recently awarded the 2016 William E. Rawls Prize Award for Excellence by the Canadian Cancer Society. This prize recognizes her innovative strategies to encourage cancer patients to exercise, helping them to reduce feelings of depression and anxiety and improving their overall health. One of her major initiatives, called ActiveMatch, is an online partnering system designed to help female cancer survivors find an exercise partner. Sabiston is also a co-principal investigator on ProjectMOVE, another strategy that helps women diagnosed with cancer customize their physical activity.




Professor Bruce Kidd installed as 10th principal of U of T Scarborough Renowned athlete and academic Bruce Kidd vowed to advance University of Toronto Scarborough’s ambitious plans for the future as he was officially installed as the 10th principal in campus history. Kidd, who was the founding dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, became UTSC’s interim principal in 2014. He helped guide the campus through its 50th anniversary celebrations and continued to promote accessibility in sport during the Toronto 2015 Pan Am and Parapan Am Games. “U of T Scarborough constitutes an integral part of Canada’s leading university,” said Professor Kidd in his installation speech, which outlined his goals for the upcoming term. “Our campus continues to fulfill its original promise as an innovative, accessible and research-intensive university, while also serving as an important economic engine

and cultural centre for one of Canada’s fastest growing and most vibrantly diverse regions.”

Marsh Trophy in 1961 and won a gold and bronze medal in the 1962 Commonwealth Games as a distance runner.

His remarkable career in athletics was capped off with induction into Canada’s Sports Hall of Fame in 1968, induction into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame as an athlete and builder and being made an Officer of the Order of Canada for having “devoted his life to eradicating sexism and “Bruce Kidd embodies the ethos of racism in sporting communities around UTSC,” said Gertler. “His fundamental commitments to inclusiveness, community, the world.” excellence and innovation; his ability to Kidd shared his excitement for the term connect with everyone he meets; his easy ahead. rapport with students; his warmth and generosity – in sum, Bruce’s character is “UTSC is one the most ambitious and ideally suited to guide UTSC through the rewarding educational and social next chapter in its history.” experiments that I’ve ever been a part of in my life. I will dedicate myself In addition to being a distinguished to advancing the UTSC mission – a academic and experienced administrator, Kidd is also an accomplished athlete. Twice proud tradition of innovative education, leading-edge research and community elected Canada’s male athlete of the year engagement.” —Don Campbell in 1961 and 1962, he was awarded the Lou U of T President Meric Gertler administered the oath of office before announcing Kidd’s official installation in front of a packed crowd at the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre.

Playing for Change – How Bruce Kidd inspired a book The first time Bruce Kidd attempted to retire, his friends and colleagues organized a symposium to celebrate his achievements as a scholar, athlete and activist. Kidd famously didn’t retire, going on to become UTSC’s principal, but his colleagues and friends didn’t stay idle either. Many of the academic papers given at the symposium were compiled in a book dedicated to Kidd, fittingly called Playing for Change: The Continuing Struggle for Sport and Recreation. The book was edited by Kidd’s former doctoral student Russell Field, who is now assistant professor at the Faculty of Kinesiology and Recreation Management at the University of Manitoba. In January, Field joined Kidd at the launch of the book at Massey College. —JD



PHOTO/ Ken Jones


Body image and emotion: investigating why many adolescent girls drop out of sports

A rink occupied exclusively by female hockey players isn’t the rare sighting it was 15 or 20 years ago. Yet while the opportunities for girls in sport continue to grow, participation numbers remain lower than for boys. Moreover, girls tend to drop out at higher rates when they begin to experience physical changes, sometimes as early as age 9 or 10. Associate Professor Catherine Sabiston is exploring how feelings about appearance – both positive and negative – influence girls’ likelihood to stay involved in sport. Her findings suggest that the worse a girl feels about her appearance and fitness, the less likely she is to enjoy and remain enrolled in sport or physical activity. Sabiston’s study, which began in summer 2014 and followed more than 300 girls between 14 and 18 throughout two seasons, is the first to explore a wide range of body-related emotions. Until now, analysis of girls and sport has focused on whether girls were satisfied with their experiences – or examined negative moods connected to body image.

Photo/ iStock

During just the first phase of the study, 6 per cent of the girls dropped out.

giving girls a choice of uniform style to help build confidence.

“Self-consciousness related to the body is one of the key reasons why girls drop out of sport during adolescence,” Sabiston explains.

“Small but important modifications to uniforms can make more girls feel more comfortable,” she says.

Girls in her study reported that they felt growing shame and guilt, in particular when they compared their bodies to those of their peers. Self-criticism often leads to distorted perception. Twenty-four per cent of the girls reported that they thought they were overweight. In reality, only 3 per cent were. Sabiston says that these negative emotions likely influence the girls’ confidence in their ability. Forty per cent reported that they were worried that they would perform badly and 27 per cent said they felt anxious about sport in general. Sabiston says that encouraging positive emotions can help to thwart the drop-out trend. She also recommends

It’s also important to discourage girls from comparing one another’s performances and physicality. Together, these types of efforts could create a more supportive environment for girls and allow them to reap the physical and mental benefits of sport participation. Sabiston’s research also finds that if girls form positive relationships with sport early on, they are more likely to continue an active lifestyle into adulthood. “It starts as early as age 10. We need to help more at that level, as girls are going through body transitions.” Sport participation is often viewed as a coping strategy for girls undergoing physical changes. But if the girls are too self-conscious to play, they never reap those benefits. “It’s an unfortunate cycle,” Sabiston says. —VI



Preventing cardiovascular disease one squeeze at a time According to Health Canada, the risk of developing cardiovascular disease increases with age, but a novel handgrip exercise strategy could help prevent its onset. It was designed by Danielle Bentley, who recently earned her PhD degree in cardiovascular physiology at the Faculty under the supervision of Professor Scott Thomas. In her thesis, Bentley explores the effects of the novel handgrip exercise on blood pressure in post-menopausal women. How did your study come about and what are the key findings? Both patients and clinicians have expressed a desire for research on alternative treatment options for cardiovascular disease to improve health. As a lifestyle intervention, handgrip exercise is emerging as a successful way to reduce resting blood pressure and regulate the nervous system. In research, common handgrip protocols prescribe sustained grip squeezes at low-to-moderate intensities. We measure this in real time with specialized laboratory or at-home equipment. But this approach isn’t accessible for the general population. Accessibility is especially important for older women, who not only are at an increased risk of developing cardiovascular disease 12


after menopause, but who also have low adherence to traditional whole body aerobic exercise.

at-home training program (96.9 per cent) and participants said they enjoyed the process.

What alternative do you propose?

What happens next?

My doctoral work was dedicated to developing a novel handgrip exercise strategy specifically for post-menopausal women that was highly accessible, easy to use and participant-informed. The grip force, timing of squeeze-rest cycles and total exercise duration were all selected to align with the unique physiological responses of this age group.

The future is filled with more research questions and lots of potential for handgrip exercise. Specifically, I would like to use large studies to directly compare the effects of high-intensity handgrip exercise and aerobic exercise.

This was tested among a diverse group of women with various resting blood pressures. It measures how the heart and blood vessels react to the exercise, while ensuring overall safety for future at-home use. As part of developing this strategy, I collected feedback from older women in the community to create a tool for highintensity interval handgrip squeezes. What kinds of results did initial testing of your exercise strategy reveal? We found that following our protocol for eight weeks effectively reduced resting systolic blood pressure and helped to regulate participants’ nervous system. In addition to these positive physiological changes, adherence was high for this

We know that regular aerobic exercise provides improvements for many health outcomes that hangdrip exercise alone does not. This includes improvements to blood lipids, weight loss, whole body muscular strength and endurance. The goal is to determine the role of handgrip exercise in the larger “lifestyle alterations” picture. Can we perhaps use handgrip exercise as an introduction into healthy lifestyle behaviours for reluctant individuals? If this exercise is added as a component of a larger exercise program, will there be additional benefits for blood pressure reduction? What I do know though, is that handgrip exercise can create real health benefits with relatively little work. This, in and of itself, is very interesting and we will continue to explore its full potential. —JD PHOTO/ Joel Jackson


Indigenous teens try out U of T for March Break SOAR introduces high school students to life on campus For a small group of indigenous youth, March Break was a chance to experience what life would be like as a student at U of T, through a program called SOAR. The Faculty has been running SOAR since 2009. Open to indigenous teens ages 14 to 17 from across Ontario, the program is funded through the Ministry of Training, Colleges and Universities Ontario, guided by the Council on Aboriginal Initiatives at U of T and supported by U of T’s First Nations House. Terry Gardiner, assistant manager, co-curricular diversity and equity at the Faculty, worked with a team of volunteers and university staff to coordinate this year’s event. U of T News writer Larysa Woloszanksy spoke with Gardiner about the program; the interview below has been edited and condensed. What did students take away from this week? SOAR wanted indigenous students to experience that post-secondary education is a viable option and that university is a welcoming place where they can and will interact with other indigenous people, as well as Canadians from many different cultural backgrounds and identities. PHOTO/ Lydia Li

SOAR serves two purposes. First, to build awareness and interest for post-secondary education among indigenous high school students, and second, to engage indigenous students in leadership opportunities. We also work with indigenous university students who we hire as coordinators and team members for the program. We build their leadership skills by allowing them to create, plan, promote, implement and evaluate the program with the support of the Faculty᾽s staff, partners and SOAR collaborators, including staff and faculty from First Nations House, Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE), the Faculty of Medicine and the U of T Indigenous Education Network. How do students learn about SOAR? It’s a multi-pronged approach. The First Nations House Recruitment Officer travels to various communities during the autumn, speaks with local youth and distributes the information about the event to the community. Partners from the Faculty of Medicine Summer Mentorship Program also tell their participants about the program. In the GTA, information about the program is distributed to the Toronto District School Board and program coordinators visit local indigenous organizations, focusing on events such as community powwows. In addition, email messages

are sent to indigenous organizations across the province to ensure we target communities near and far. What are some of the highlights of the program? Highlights of the program have been the opportunities for youth to participate in teaching and learning circles led by elders who transmit knowledge in culturally relevant ways. This year, elder Cat Criger led a session at Hart House to which the students responded really well. Visits to U of T faculties are always well received, and a highlight is always meeting other youth and making new friends in the program – they can see that there are other students like them and there is a place for them in higher education. Our goal is to promote higher education no matter the institution. The feedback we often get from our indigenous youth is reluctance to attend university. They often feel like there are no other students who look like them and share the same upbringing and beliefs. This program shows them that there is a place for them and they can achieve great things with a post-secondary education. —Larysa Woloszansky PURSUIT | SPRING 2016


Blues News

Varsity Blues give back Varsity Blues athletes demonstrate extraordinary leadership skills in competition and in daily life. Many are deeply involved in community outreach programs on behalf of the Blues and the university. Pursuit is pleased to highlight a few stories of the Blues having an impact on communities at home and around the world.

Varsity Blues buddy up with elementary students across Toronto

lessons, do some physical activity with them and really engage these young students with the Blues philosophy.” “We are so excited to start implementing Blues Buddy Up this fall,” said Beth Ali, director of intercollegiate and high performance sport and acting assistant dean of the Faculty.

and walked around the pucks,” said one St. Paul’s student. “My guide gave me instructions to follow and I had to trust that person.”

“Overall our students all had the same feedback,” said Micheline DutilStudent athletes from U of T are Hoffman, principal at St. Paul’s. “They using everything from basketball to thought it was a lot of fun and they blindfolds to help elementary school learned important lessons at the same kids across the City of Toronto develop “Our dedicated group of student athletes time. I would say it was a job well done!” character and leadership. “I liked the have so much to offer. To see them give Lego building because I learned about For fastpitch player Alika Kingsbury, back to the community this way is the cooperation and exact communication,” definition of leadership. I really believe who studies medical radiation, the said one child from St. Paul’s Catholic students’ excitement was infectious. this program will not only help the School in Regent Park. school children in their everyday lives, “The students are so excited to see us but will also enrich the experience of our that you can’t help but feed off that Created and delivered by the athletes student athletes during their university of U of T’s Varsity Blues, with support energy,” Kingsbury said. “Being a part careers.” from the TD Bank Group, the of this is special and it’s a community outreach program great chance for us as student is called Blues Buddy Up. athletes to give back in a small Designed to target personal and way, and really be positive role interpersonal skill development models.” in students ranging from Grades “It was educational,” said one 4 to 6, the program runs under the St. Paul’s Catholic School was the St. Paul’s student. “They taught us how BLUES philosophy: Believe, Learn, stop for their first in-class session on to support our teammates in basketball Understand, Excel & Succeed. November 4. The visit featured six of the and understand what they are saying.” 45 Blues athletes who have committed “This is a tremendous opportunity for Since its launch in November, the to this project. And the young audience us to give back to the community,” said Blues Buddy Up program has visited 15 embraced their new mentors and the football player Kevin Collins of U of T’s classrooms at eight schools in the GTA. messages with open arms. St. Michael’s College. “It’s a chance to —Jill Clark talk to them about some valuable life “I liked the game when I was blindfolded

“This is a tremendous opportunity for us to give back to the community.”



PHOTO/ Martin Bazyl


Learning a world away When they’re not making a difference on the field of play, Varsity Blues athletes like to join forces with fellow U of T students to make a difference in the world. Recently, Varsity Blues football players Kevin Collins and Michael Leslie joined eight other students from the U of T chapter of International Service Learning (ISL) on a trip to the Dominican Republic to lend a helping hand to those in need. Led by student-leaders Alexia Tam and Jaclyn Sicard, the team was selected from a large applicant pool. After a full year of planning, training and fundraising, the crew headed out to several communities in the Santo Domingo area in January 2016.

something about which I previously had only basic knowledge,” says Collins about his choice to take part in the medically based expedition. “The trip allowed us to interact with a wide variety of people, in different settings and communities. I was able to connect and speak to people openly from all different backgrounds and not only learned a lot medically, but politically, proving there is always something to gain when giving back.” One interaction that stands out for Collins and Leslie showcased the connection sport can have, even when one is a world away from home. The pair, along with several other members of the team, often spent their lunch breaks playing baseball with a group of local boys not too far from the clinic.

The primary goal of the trip was to provide general medical aid for which the U of T students received extensive training. During the team’s week-long tour, they “It was a really neat moment, as here we treated conditions as severe as gunshot were, not able to speak the same language, wounds to more common illnesses such but yet we’re able to play a game together,” as the flu. This experience not only served says Collins. “We really saw the true as an opportunity to assist a community beauty of sport.” in need, but also provided true hands-on The experience proved to be life-changing experience for those students interested in for Collins and his team mates. entering the medical field upon graduation. “Seeing the poverty of the Dominican Third-year wide receiver Kevin Collins, Republic really opened our eyes to the who is currently completing a doubleliving conditions in other parts of the major in political science and history, world and taught us a lot about ourselves. gained much from this trip despite his There is a new force now driving my aspirations being outside the realm of ambition to enter politics: a desire to effect medicine. positive change not only locally, but also “This trip was an opportunity for me to nationally and internationally. ” step out of my comfort zone and practise —Jordon Hall

The Blues raise over

$6,000 with Think Pink campaign

Over the last nine years, the Varsity Blues have been active participants in the Canada-wide Think Pink campaign to raise awareness and funds for the Canadian Breast Cancer Foundation. Although the program started out as an initiative for women’s basketball, mandated by Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS), the Blues have extended it to include men’s and women’s hockey, volleyball and basketball teams. This year, the Think Pink #BleedBlue campaign raised more than $6,000, a 34 per cent increase from the previous year. Fundraising events included bake sales by the junior gymnastic club and champion athletes dedicating games and cutting off their hair for the cause. The Blues women’s hockey team surpassed all teams in the CIS with a $1,660 contribution and wrapped up the campaign with an inspired win over Windsor. —JC




Top student athletes honoured at sixth annual Academic Excellence Breakfast An impressive 231 student athletes were honoured in November at the Varsity Blues Academic Excellence breakfast. The annual ceremony honours student athletes, who competed on a varsity team and earned an 80 per cent average or higher in all courses in which they were enrolled during the 2014–15 academic year. As recognition, each recipient receives a pin: enamel for firsttime winners, bronze for second, silver for third, and a diamond pin for anyone earning this award four or more times during their intercollegiate career. “Our student athletes are amazing,” said Beth Ali, acting assistant dean and director of intercollegiate and high performance sport. “The work that these individuals put in day in and day out is remarkable. They are so deserving of these awards and I am so pleased to celebrate them this morning.” The Blues also honoured four U of T top scholar athletes who this year earned a scholarship from the university’s Office of the Vice-Provost. Men’s hockey forward Tyler Liukkonen and women’s



track and field standout Sasha Gollish were celebrated as the CIS sport top scholar athletes, while Blues baseball all-star Tanner Young-Schultz and women’s golf star Sarah Dunning earned the OUA top scholar athlete awards. Gollish was also honoured with a Governor General᾽s Academic All-Canadian Commendation, one of eight student athletes in the country to receive the award from His Excellency the Right Honourable David Johnston, Governor General of Canada, during a ceremony in Ottawa in the fall. Named the CIS athlete of the year in track events and female MVP of both the OUA and CIS championships, Gollish helped the Blues women capture the conference banner for the first time since 2004 and the national team title for the first time since 1998. At the CIS championships in Windsor, the civil engineering PhD candidate claimed five medals, including three gold, and helped set a Canadian senior record – and erased a 27-year-old meet standard – in the 4x800m relay.

Liukkonen scored six goals and led the Blues with 19 assists, ranking second on the team with 25 points last season. The Master of Biotechnology student also added two points in the post season in helping Toronto to the second round of the OUA playoffs. Dunning, a third-year math and statistics major, claimed the 2014 OUA individual women’s golf title and was named an OUA all-star in leading the Blues to their third straight provincial title last season, while Young-Schultz, a computer engineering major, was named a 2014 OUA baseball first team all-star after ranking third in the OUA with 22 RBI and fourth with 26 hits in 17 games. The 231 student athletes represent 30 per cent of the Varsity Blues population, a 12 per cent increase in the total number of all-academic achievement compared to the 2013–14 season. —Lee Campbell

PHOTO/ Martin Bazyl


Chris Tortorice, head of golf operations at U of T.

Upenieks and her teammates, Ana Peric and Sarah Dunning, were all named OUA first-team all-stars. Peric, Dunning and Kelsey Fuchs were also awarded scholarships for academic excellence.

“We’re very fortunate to have a good mix “We couldn’t ask more of them in terms of experienced of how they play on the course and how players, who’ve been they perform in the classroom,” said playing university Tortorice, who competed as a member of golf for a long time, the Varsity Blues while attending U of T and young players law school. who’ve only been with us for one or two The next challenge for the Blues seasons,” said Tortorice. women’s golf team will be the Canadian University and College Championships “That combination of experience and talented in May. Tortorice thinks it’s a big chance for the team to take another step forward. new players has really helped put the team over the top.” “They’ve been fourth at the national championship on a couple of occasions That’s going to serve the team well and this year is a chance for them to as they face more competition in a see if they can go a step further and game that’s experiencing a surge in get a medal, and even compete for the popularity. championship.” “We didn’t have women’s golf in the

Blues women’s golf team continues winning legacy U of T᾽s Varsity Blues women’s golf team claimed their fourth consecutive provincial banner at the 2015 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) championship – their fifth since the inception of women᾽s golf in the OUA championship in 2005. “It’s been an incredible four years,” said veteran player Laura Upenieks. “To pull it off four years in a row against such tough competition is really fulfilling.”

With 14 banners under their belt, the Blues capped off a very successful season and broke many records along the way.

Varsity Blues

win big this season

“Not that anyone’s counting,” chuckled

OUA 11 years ago,” said Tortorice. “We started with a handful of teams and now we have 10 schools competing. That’s very exciting.”

Women’s volleyball

first ever national banner

Women’s track and field

back-to-back national championships

Figure skating

For more information, scores and highlights on your favourite U of T athletes and teams, please visit www.varsityblues.ca —JD

first OUA banner in 25 years

Men’s swimming

Women’s golf

4th straight OUA championship

13th straight OUA title

The Blues national and provincial championships: 2015–16 CIS CHAMPS:

men’s and women’s swimming, women’s track and field and women’s volleyball.

2015–16 OUA CHAMPS:

badminton, men’s fencing, field hockey, figure skating, women’s golf, men’s swimming, women’s swimming, men’s tennis, women’s volleyball and women’s water polo.




Road to Rio With the Olympic Games in Brazil quickly approaching, the Faculty will be watching with excitement as our student athletes and alumni compete to secure their spot on Team Canada. Some of those to watch out for include 2012 Olympic competitors and 2015 Pan Am medalists:

Track and Field – Sarah Wells, Sasha Gollish and Gabriela Stafford Swimming – Zack Chetrat, Ozvald Nitski (for Estonia) and Kylie Masse (confirmed) Trampoline – Rosie MacLennan (confirmed) Badminton – Michelle Li Rugby Sevens – Bethany Spiers Modern Pentathlon – Donna Vakalis Archery – Crispin Duenas

Pan Am silver for Chetrat! Toronto 2015 medal update Blues alumnus (swimming) Zack Chetrat is being awarded a silver medal after an international athlete was disqualified due to a doping infraction at the 2015 Pan American Games. Chetrat touched the wall in a Canadian record time of 1:56.90, behind Leonardo De Deus of Brazil (1:55.01) and Mauricio Fiol of Peru (1:55.15). Fellow Canadian Alex Page, who placed fourth, will move into the bronze-medal position. Source: varsityblues.ca



PHOTOS/ Martin Bazyl, John Hryniuk, Sandy Nicholson, and Provided By The athletes


Kylie Masse is off to the races in Rio

Varsity Blues swimmer Kylie Masse climbed 190 spots in the swimming world rankings in just one year. En route, she broke six national records, earned a gold medal at the Summer Universiade in South Korea and qualified for the 2016 Summer Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Masse was named U of T female athlete of the year, OUA female athlete of the year and one of four female nominees for the BLG CIS athlete of the year award honouring top university athletes in the country. Could an Olympic win be in the cards? Head coach of the Blues swimming team and former Olympian Byron Macdonald shared his thoughts. What accounts for Kylie’s extraordinary feat?

How far do you expect Kylie to go?

I think a number of things contributed to it. The training she got at U of T was a step in the right direction. Kylie had done very little strength training while she was in high school and we have a very good program under our strength coach Alanna Veerman. She also learned to race more often.

Female swimmers usually break through at 16, 17, maybe 18. For Kylie to break through at 19 is a little bit of an outlier, but she did it. The beauty of that is that she probably has a very large advantage. An athlete that breaks out onto the world scene when they’re 16 or 17 may plateau by the time they turn 20. But, for a 20-year-old to just barely have started to reach those higher levels of performance, there’s more room to grow. She’s already top 10 in the world. This means she could possibly get into the top ten, top five in the world in the near future.

Kylie has a great work ethic and she is very conscientious, but she also has a somewhat carefree attitude that allows her to have no boundaries. She’s not plotting how fast she has to go or what she needs to do or what her goal time is. She just goes in and races hard and lets the time take care of itself. That’s unique in the sport of swimming, which is very focused on time. And, she has a phenomenally strong, close family, who support her tremendously. What makes Kylie the ultimate athlete? On top of all the other things I mentioned, it’s her natural feel for the water, a talent if you will. Kylie’s hands enter the water exactly where they are supposed to, they pull exactly the way they should. She’s got a very natural kick, a tremendous flexibility in her ankles, and they push the water just the right way. It’s very difficult to teach that, particularly by the time the athlete has reached the age of 19.

PHOTO/ Martin Bazyl

Do you see an Olympic medal in her future? You need a little bit more than talent and one year of being world ranked to win a medal at the Olympic Games. You need some more experience to do that, but to qualify for the Olympic Games is a gigantic first step and a testament to Kylie’s fitness and talent. Our primary goal will be to advance from prelims to semis (top 16) to top eight final; gain that experience and then build through the next quadrennial to challenge for medals. Kylie was one of the top two breakout swimmers at the Olympic trials, posting one of the highest ranked swims in the world. A three-and-a-half second improvement over 18 months is an incredible feat. Things like that don᾽t happen very often. I am confident that the next quadrennial, from the year 2017 to 2020, will be Kylie’s for the taking. —JD




U of T Varsity Blues launches High Performance Academy programs The recent launch of the University of Toronto Varsity Blues High Performance Academy programs has attracted the interest of young athletes seeking skill and training development opportunities in football, basketball, hockey, volleyball, and track and field.

training, while exposing them to athletic possibilities beyond high school,” says Greg Gary, men’s football head coach. It’s also a great way to engage young female athletes and show them what is possible in post-secondary education in Canada, says Michele Belanger, women’s basketball head coach.

Designed by the Varsity Blues head coaches, the High Performance Academy programs reflect the uniquely “We expose them to the possibility integrated approach to how sports of continuing their athletic careers are delivered at U of T, providing at a high performance level, in an talented young athletes with strength enhanced environment at the nation’s and conditioning training, nutrition top institution, all while honing their consultation and injury prevention, basketball skills,” says Belanger. expert coaching and sport specific instruction, as well as access to the High performance athletes can be Goldring Centre for High Performance school-aged athletes who are competing Sport and the Varsity Centre. on a provincial or national team, but still need to develop their skills; for example, “The Academy provides us the young volleyball players who need to opportunity to expose young players to learn to properly engage the muscles in quality coaching, first-rate facilities on the shoulder to avoid long-term injury. our campus and valuable sport-specific



“What᾽s special about the Academy is the integrated and targeted nature of the programming,” says Beth Ali, U of T’s director of intercollegiate and high performance sport. “The high performance athletes joining our Academy will experience the same approach to training our varsity athletes and high performance national team athletes receive.” “Whether they are already accomplished athletes or future Olympians, the programming they receive and the expertise they are exposed to will significantly improve their skills and ability to train within a high performance environment.” Registration for the Football Academy started in February. Registration for all other Academy programs is now open. —JD

PHOTO/ John Hryniuk


Staying fit and healthy in five easy steps: Q & A Harley Pasternak By Jelena Damjanovic

As a graduate student at U of T, he conducted research at the Defence and Civil Institute of Environmental Medicine Canada. Now he helps the likes of Halle Berry get into shape for film roles. You’d be forgiven for feeling intimidated by Harley Pasternak’s (MSc 0T0) fitness routine, yet it’s surprisingly simple, as we find out in a phone conversation with the Faculty’s celebrity alumnus.

How did you help Halle Berry get in shape for her role in Catwoman ? We trained on the film set Monday to Friday, so there was time for five workouts a week. We had short lunch breaks, so I had less than 30 minutes to get her to my workout trailer, take her through a five-minute cardio warm up, five-minute upper-body strength, lowerbody strength and abdominal exercises, and a five-minute cardio cool down. The whole work out was 25 minutes long, made up of five 5-minute phases. What’s behind the title of your last book: Five Pounds? Five Pounds is really a symbol. I’ve never weighed a client. I don’t believe in weighing people. For some people it’s the beginning of a larger weight loss journey. Maybe you have 20, 30, 40 or 50 pounds to lose, but it’s the things that you do to help lose the first five pounds that you just keep doing to lose the next five. If you’re just five pounds away from where you want to be, you need to follow the same healthy behaviours as the person who has 50 pounds to lose. What are those healthy behaviours? at least 10,000 steps a day – the healthiest countries and cultures all walk a 1. Walk I give lot. all my clients a Fitbit, which counts how many steps they take a day. e all need to sleep a little bit more and a little bit better. Getting an extra 15 2. Wminutes of sleep each day would be great. Seven to eight hours of sleep is ideal.

3. Unplug for at least one hour a day. at protein and fibre five times a day – smaller meals with protein and fibre 4. Eregulate your blood sugar levels and will cut down on cravings. o a resistance exercise for a different part of the body each day for at least five 5. Dminutes. Do you have an indulgence you find hard to resist? Yes, chocolate chip cookies, but I know that if I want to be able to eat them, I need to take my steps, get the right amount of sleep, eat healthy meals and do my workouts. PHOTO/ Nabil Elderkin





PHOTO/ Joel Jackson

That time the


came to town Toronto rolls out the red carpet for NBA All-Star Weekend by Jelena Damjanovic

Drake? Check. Kobe Bryant? Check. Spike Lee and Snoop Dogg? Check and check. For one weekend this past February, Toronto went from being a cool city to a really cool city when an estimated 120 NBA players and hundreds of celebrities and tourists descended on the town for the NBA All-Star Weekend.



Not wanting to spoil any preconceived notions of the North, Toronto was hit by freezing temperatures, but not even the weather spoiled the excitement felt throughout the city – and across the university campus. “For any basketball fan the NBA All-Star Weekend is a highlight of the year, probably more so from an entertainment perspective,” said John Campbell, head coach of the Varsity Blues men’s basketball program, “but this year, we had an opportunity to interact with the NBA in a way that is fairly unique. It was very exciting to be a part of.”

Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport showcased as venue for NBA All-Star challenge Making its debut on the international stage, the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, and its awe-inspiring Kimel Family Field House, hosted the first and last stop for the nationwide NBA All-Star challenge. “There’s been a real buzz around Goldring right from its opening last year; now, to be able to show it off, not just to the U of T community, but to the worldwide basketball community, was really special,” said Campbell. “And, it’s been truly amazing for our student athletes to have an increased profile at the events.” Professor Ira Jacobs was in the crowd to cheer on the Blues for the 2nd All-Star challenge event at U of T and had the rare opportunity to welcome NBA legend and the first Executive VP of the Toronto Raptors, Isiah Thomas, to the Goldring Centre. In the early 90s, Thomas was a member of the committee that brought about the expansion of the NBA basketball franchise into Toronto and, ultimately, the creation of the Toronto Raptors. “It was remarkable to speak with Isiah Thomas. He was tremendously impressed with the Goldring Centre and commented that he wished the Raptors could have had it as a practice facility in those early years,” said Jacobs, currently on an administrative leave from his role as Dean of the Faculty.

More Canadians playing in NBA than ever before The significance of the NBA All-Star game coming to Toronto, and its official Canada-wide pre-game event series, cannot be overemphasized: this was the first time in its 65-year history that the NBA All-Star game was held outside the US. The choice of Toronto for host city is indicative of where Canadian basketball currently stands, says Campbell. “We’re at the early stages of an incredible basketball boom in Canada. Right now there are more Canadians playing in the NBA than ever before. We also have more Canadians playing in the NBA than any country has had in the NBA at one time in history.” Campbell believes a number of factors are contributing to this, including the changing demographics of Canada and the accessibility of a game that allows a large percentage of the population to participate. “There’s a generation of kids in Canada right now who grew up with the NBA, both in Vancouver and Toronto, and that’s a group that’s had more options from a professional sporting perspective than the kids who came before,” said Campbell. “Certainly in my day and age Canada was essentially a hockey country.” 24


“There’s been a real buzz around Goldring right from its opening...” —John Campbell, Blues head coach

PHOTO/ Martin Bazyl



All-Star Weekend ignites commitment to shaping legacy initiatives City councillor Michael Thompson agrees the NBA’s decision to hold the All-Star game in Toronto demonstrates that there is growing recognition that basketball is now well accepted and understood in Canada, and that there are amazingly talented homegrown basketball players here. “It speaks to the calibre of basketball currently being played in Canada,” he says. “Toronto did Canada proud. The NBA players had a great time and had great things to say about our city. They have become ambassadors for Toronto and can talk it up, both in terms of draft prospects for the Raptors, but also as a tourist destination.” Thompson, who is chair of Toronto’s Economic Development and Culture Committee, estimates the city generated close to $100 million from hosting a week of NBA-related festivities, but prefers to highlight the social impact the event had on Torontonians, especially the young people who were able to meet their basketball heroes at events staged across the city. Fans had the opportunity to participate in a variety of skills competitions and basketballrelated activities on more than 40 courts at the Enercare Centre; one of the highlights was instructional clinics conducted by current and former NBA players. A group of young fans from the councillor’s Scarborough Centre ward were invited to Canada’s Design Museum for an event featuring NBA legend Shaquille O’Neal and other celebrity guests, who shared the stories behind their personal successes and encouraged others to take more positive social action in all aspects of life. “The kids were ecstatic, telling me how much this had touched their lives and inspired them to pursue excellence in everything, not just basketball,” Thompson says.




The intersection of sport and education in building strong communities A basketball dad himself, councillor Thompson is a firm believer in the link between sports and education. He is also a strong supporter of the BIA Cup University Basketball Tournament, which pits the men᾽s and women᾽s basketball teams of U of T against Ryerson in a four-game match-up (two men᾽s games, two women᾽s games) with the trophy going to the university with the most wins overall. The BIA Cup is named for Toronto᾽s Business Improvement Areas (BIA), a social innovation established more than 40 years ago to enable the city’s business community to more broadly impact the city’s economic and cultural fabric. This year the final U of T–Ryerson match-up of the BIA Cup was a feature of the NBA weekend-long festivities, with the Blues meeting the Ryerson Rams in front of an enthusiastic crowd at the Enercare Centre. Ryerson won the game and took home the 2016 BIA Cup. “The BIA Cup is an excellent initiative,” says councillor Thompson, who watched the U ofT and Ryerson women᾽s basketball teams square off at the Goldring Centre earlier in the year. “The University of Toronto has tremendous facilities, from the Goldring Centre to the Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre at UTSC, and is well equipped to provide youth from across the city with venues and opportunities to play basketball. As we move ahead with a motion to establish a city-wide, affordable basketball league, we want to encourage more young people to use sport as a vehicle for education and social development.” Sage Usher and Manvinder (Manny) Sahota know something about pursuing excellence in both academics and sport. Both started playing basketball as kids, following


in the footsteps of older siblings and friends in the neighbourhood. Now studying at U of T, they are both members of the Blues men’s basketball team and played in the BIA cup OUA showcase as part of the NBA All-Star Weekend event series. Despite losing to the top ranked Rams, Usher and Sahota spoke of their team’s excitement for being a part of this rare opportunity to participate in such a high profile, international sporting event. “It was great to have U of T, the Goldring Centre, and CIS Basketball as a whole recognized by the NBA, as it may help to bring more awareness to our league,” says Usher, who is in his second year of the U of T urban studies program. Seeing the community come together was an added bonus. “Basketball fans across the city seem to be fired up with the Raptors’ recent success and the surge of Canadians in the NBA,” says Sahota, a fourth-year student of environment science and conservation biology. “But I think the All-Star Weekend coming to Toronto was the icing on the cake.” That icing included what some are describing as the best dunk contest in the history of the NBA, an entertaining three-point shootout, jam-packed celebrity game and sold-out rookie game. “Local fans definitely got a boost from the All-Star game coming to Toronto,” says Usher. “Basketball in Toronto and Canada is booming and not only did this provide Toronto fans with something to be excited about, but it focused the rest of the basketball world on our city for the weekend.” The best city in the world, according to Drake.



From local leadership to global growth The Fitness Institute Scholarship



By Katie Babcock


e led a cross-Canada cycling tour for suicide awareness, an after-school health education program for 100 youth in Namibia and was even U of T’s Olympic torchbearer for the 2010 Winter Olympic Games. Currently completing his PhD at the University of Oxford, Ben Verboom (BPHE 1T1) was also awarded the Fitness Institute Scholarship in 2010, a life-altering event.

The scholarship was established in memory of the Fitness Institute’s co-founder Lloyd Percival, who trained athletes in many sports, including dozens of Canadian Olympians. It recognizes students who have high academic standing and demonstrate leadership in the community. “Our motto was ‘Changing peoples’ lives for the better,’” says John Wildman, former president of the institute for 12 years. “We recognized the need to invest in students’ futures. We are all proud of Ben’s accomplishments, which affirm our conviction that higher education builds excellence and leadership. Students who think innovatively will have a profound impact on society, Canada and the world.” The summer after receiving the scholarship, Verboom travelled to Windhoek, Namibia, to volunteer for an NGO called Physically Active Youth. During the two-month program, he led cycling tours and academic sessions to help youth develop physical activity and life skills. “The generous funding from this scholarship freed up my time so I could pursue leadership projects like the one in Namibia,” he says. “That experience opened my eyes and reinforced my passion for international health and development.” Verboom has pursued this passion at the University of Oxford, where he is studying how research can influence decisions in public health policy making, both at national and global levels. To further specialize in this area, he is currently completing a one-year fellowship at the Johns Hopkins School of Public Health. Located near Washington DC, he is at the centre of global health policy making. In the future, Verboom plans to continue his research on global health, while pursuing a public policy career in Canada. Whatever his plans, they’re sure to be big. “Because I’ve had help along the way, I’ve had the opportunity to get a university education, and to volunteer and study abroad – those are privileges. Now I have a responsibility to give back.” Wildman continues to support students’ futures and presented the 2016 Fitness Institute Scholarship to Jarrett Williams at the Faculty’s annual Reception for Scholars. “It’s a joy for me to meet such up-and-coming student leaders each year at the awards reception,” says Wildman. “We᾽re so proud of each scholarship recipient, and we hope to inspire each of them to reach their potential in the journey ahead.” PHOTO/ Courtesy of Ben Verboom



Alumni Updates

Above: Acting Dean Gretchen Kerr welcomes guests. (Right top): Student athlete Rab Bruce-Lockhart shares his story, (Right 2nd from bottom) keynote speaker David Scandiffio congratulates award recipients

Varsity Blues Achievement Awards honour student athletes, celebrate donors It was an evening to remember: 141 of the U of T’s finest student athletes, 33 alumni and donors, and a complement of coaches and staff gathered in the Great Hall at Hart House to celebrate the 2016 Varsity Blues Achievement Awards on January 20. The Awards are an opportunity for donors to see first-hand the impact of their generosity on the lives of the student athletes they have supported – often meeting them for the first time. The student athletes in turn get a sense of the extended KPE and Varsity Blues community that helps to make their achievements possible. The event’s keynote speakers included David Scandiffio, a former Varsity Blues football player and current CEO of CIBC Asset Management. David reflected on his formative years at U of T and the impact of alumni donors on his personal 30


experience. “As alumni who benefited directly from the support of a previous generation, I feel compelled that we do our part to benefit the next generation of Varsity Blues,” he said. The awards celebrate the achievements of a group of student athletes whose accomplishments are all the more impressive when pursued alongside the demands of academic life. Rab BruceLockhart, the award-winning goalkeeper and co-captain of the Varsity Blues men’s soccer team, spoke to the crowd about his personal journey from freshman to fourth-year, and delivered a message of gratitude on behalf of his fellow student athletes. “The greatest gift of all,” he said, “is the gift that all of you help provide as donors. Without you many of us, including myself, would not be able to embark on this incredible experience of being a

Varsity Blue. And for that, on behalf of all of the students and coaches in this room, we are truly, truly grateful.” 2016 also saw the addition of a new award, the Phyllis Berck Scholarship, which supports a female varsity track and field or cross-country runner who meets the league’s stringent requirements for academic achievement. The first recipient of the award was Honor Walmsley, a promising young student athlete who helped her Varsity Blues track and field team to the 2015 CIS championship – while securing an impressive 4.0 GPA. “The award funding allowed me to put my time, energy and focus to working towards my academic and athletic goals, without the burden of financial stress, allowing me to experience these accomplishments and create memories that I will cherish for a lifetime,” Honor said. —LC PHOTOS/ Jing-Ling Kao-Beserve

Career Café

Preparing for life’s twists and turns When Joel Kerr was six years old, he believed he would automatically get a job in downtown Toronto after graduating from elementary school. While his initial vision was innocently inaccurate, his message at this year’s Career Café was clear – students need to discover their passion and work hard to build their careers. It was a message that resonated throughout the Faculty’s Career Café in early February. Organized by the undergraduate student association (KPEUA), this annual event helps students explore their career options through connections with alumni. This year, Kerr (BPHE 9T8) and 15 other mentors gathered at U of T’s Faculty Club to share stories about their journeys. At the beginning of the evening, alumni described their diverse experiences ranging from physiotherapy, dentistry and naturopathy, to business development, investment advising and fundraising. While following different and often non-linear paths, the alumni emphasized how their undergraduate degree had prepared them for future challenges. “Every day I use leadership, relationship building and a strong work ethic to help clients recover from their injuries and enhance their performance,” said Kerr, president and director of the Health Institute. Cheri Grogran (BPHE 9T0), head of St. Mildred’s-Lightbourn School, agreed. “Everything I learned in life, I learned as an undergraduate. Some people say ‘Good things come to those who wait.’ I say ‘Good things come to those who work hard.’” After the presentations, more than 75 students mixed and mingled with alumni, learning more about their options and making personal connections. “It’s rewarding to potentially spark an interest and inspire a student to pursue a different path,” said Kerr. “As long as students are open to possibilities and continue to grow, they’ll be ready for life’s twists and turns.” —KB

Former Blue named minister of environment and climate change In early November, Varsity Blues alumna Catherine McKenna was appointed to the federal cabinet as minister of environment and climate change. McKenna’s goal will be to cut greenhouse gas emissions and transition Canada to a climate-resilient economy. During the 2015 Paris Climate Change Conference, she played a prominent role as a facilitator and helped countries come together for a shared purpose. “We believe that climate change is a huge problem that we need to be addressing and so we’re certainly highlighting this,” McKenna told Adrian Harewood on CBC News Ottawa at 6. “This is a really important file to Canadians – both the environment but also tackling climate change and we need to be ambitious and I’m just ready to work really hard and get down to action.” McKenna will work with Prime Minister Justin Trudeau to create Canadian emission targets. During her four years at U of T, McKenna was a member of three national champion Varsity Blues women’s swimming teams. Source: CBC

If you are interested in participating in future Career Cafés, please contact rachel.keeling@utoronto.ca

PHOTOS/ Jing-Ling Kao-Beserve (left) /courtesy of Minister’s Office Environment and Climate Change Canada (Right)



Alumni Updates

Dragons’ Den investors back U of T startup Adrenalease Inc. KPE grad Noureddin Chahrour offered backing by four of five panelists for his athletic wear company

Recent KPE grad Noureddin Chahrour tamed the dragons on CBC’s Dragons’ Den this past fall – securing a $90,000 investment in exchange for 30 per cent of his startup, Adrenalease Inc. Chahrour entered the Den asking for $60,000 in exchange for a 20 per cent stake in his company and its flagship product: the posture performance shirt. Ideal for athletes, the shirt also provides a passive and adjustable solution for anyone who slouches during everyday activities, he told the Dragons on the episode, which aired November 18, 2015. “It’s scientifically engineered to have elastic straps to elicit certain muscle groups in the upper shoulder region,” Chahrour explained. Users pull two straps on each side to increase tension and gently pull the shoulders back to improve posture. Unlike clothing made by competitors, the Adrenalease shirt is sleek and comfortable, Chahrour said. The straps can also be released after a recommended 30 minutes so the users don’t become dependent on the shirt or overextend their muscles. Team Canada’s senior ice dancers, Paul Poirier and Piper Gilles, joined Chahrour in the Den, demonstrating the shirts in action. “I have to do a lot of lifts with Piper, so I need to make sure that my shoulders are in the correct position so that I don’t injure myself,” Poirier said, lifting Gilles up above his torso to illustrate his point.



Adrenalease was offered three deals from four Dragons, including an offer from Michael Wekerle for 200 times the original valuation in exchange for a 50/50 partnership. Instead, Chahrour convinced three of the Dragons – Jim Treliving, Michele Romanow and Manjit Minhas – to join together, giving him access to diverse expertise. For their combined investment of $90,000, the Dragons will split a 30 per cent stake in the company. “I remember being a student,” said Romanow, co-founder of Snap by Groupon and Buytopia.ca. “I remember feeling what it was like to do my first set of sales and I want you to feel totally empowered to go build this business.” Chahrour developed his startup with the help of U of T᾽s Impact Centre’s Innovation and Entrepreneurship course (IMC200), followed by their intensive Techno training program. Directors of Adrenalease include the Impact Centre’s Richard McAloney and Professor Cynthia Goh. To keep up with demand, Chahrour also took on four interns this past summer as part of the university᾽s Internships in New Ventures program (IMC390). Karen Sievewright, managing director of U of T’s Banting & Best Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship said, “Adrenalease is an example of student entrepreneurship at its best.” —Olivia Tomic

PHOTO/ courtesy Adrenalease

Alumni Updates


Malcolm Gladwell visits track and field team The Varsity Blues track and field team was treated to a very special guest on November 6 when track alumnus, and noted journalist and author, Malcolm Gladwell (Trinity College 8T4) dropped by. Although his university running career was cut short by an injury after one year on the team, he came back to the sport a few years ago and shared his story with the team. Rachel Jewett, middle-distance runner and MSc candidate, was there to meet Gladwell and expressed how interesting it was to learn about Gladwell’s reintroduction to track in later life, and to benefit from his wisdom on a range of topics from journalism research to advice he would have given his university-age self. —Rachel Keeling Malcolm Gladwell (first row, right) and the Varsity Blues Track and Field Team

Kimel basketball reception Basketball alumnus and Kimel Family Field House benefactor Ron Kimel (UC 6T6) hosted basketball alumni and Goldring Centre donors at a reception on February 6 to enjoy Varsity Blues basketball and NBA All-Star Weekend fan fest excitement. The group cheered on the Blues, enjoyed refreshments and had the pleasure of meeting basketball legend Isiah Thomas. —RK Isiah Thomas (left) and Ron Kimel (right) in the Kimel Family Field House

Fitness guru shares tips from latest book On April 1, exercise science alumnus and modern fitness and nutrition guru Harley Pasternak (MSc 0T0) took time out of his busy Los Angeles-based schedule to join an intimate group of Faculty, alumni and friends for a lunchtime lecture at Hart House. Harley highlighted tips and tricks from his latest book 5 Pounds and unlocked his “5 Secrets to Being Fit, Lean, Healthy and Living Forever.” see Fit Tips on page 21 —RK

UPCOMING EVENTS U of T Sports Hall of Fame Induction Ceremony Thursday, June 2, 2016 Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport Tickets and information: my.alumni.utoronto.ca/halloffame Contact: rachel.keeling@utoronto.ca

Varsity Leadership Foundation Golf Tournament Monday, August 8, 2016 King Valley Golf Club Contact: wendy@wendykane.com

Baseball Alumni Game Sunday, August 28, 2016 Dan Lang Field, U of T Scarborough Contact: peter.nash@mail.utoronto.ca

Women’s Hockey Golf Tournament Saturday, September 17, 2016 Angus Glen Golf Club Contact: vicky.sunohara@utoronto.ca PURSUIT | SPRING 2016



Class Notes 1960s Lorraine Kirchmann

Stephanie Rudnick

Masha Kennedy


BPHE 0T0, Basketball

BPHE 0T8, Tennis, Squash

Many of the Faculty’s alumni hold key volunteer positions in their communities, and we are pleased to recognize Lorraine for her membership on the Advisory Board of the Townships Project, a non-profit that helps alleviate extreme poverty in South Africa by assisting individuals in starting small businesses and providing basic business skills training. Lorraine lends her business experience and chairs many of their fundraising events.

Stephanie᾽s ambitious nature was evident even as a student when she started her own business – a basketball camp known as Elite Camps – before graduation. Passion and persistence have taken her company to new heights, and she celebrated some major milestones in 2015. Stephanie will be opening her own Elite Camps training facility and launching her first book in a series called Life is a Sport. The series brings to light stories and life lessons learned while playing basketball, with the goal of teaching parents and kids how participation in sport can train you for countless other challenges life may throw at you. Congratulations, Stephanie and Elite Camps.

Masha was recently promoted to Acting Deputy Director of Development for UNICEF Canada. Masha left U of T just over two years ago to join UNICEF and has quickly become an integral part of the development team, travelling internationally to improve conditions for children around the world. Congratulations, Masha.

1980s Kelly Swales-Graham BPHE 8T7, Volleyball

This alumna and lifelong athlete has reached new heights with the success of her first book entitled Hope RX’D – a collection of inspirational stories stemming from her own recovery from major cervical spine injury after being ranked first in Canada and seventh internationally in Masters Women’s CrossFit in 2014. Congratulations go to Kelly on her book and thanks to her for sharing her amazing journey.




Jayna Hefford BPHE 0T4, Hockey

After welcoming her second child in April 2015, Jayna officially retired in September from her stunning hockey career as a four-time Olympic champion with multiple other accolades. Despite hanging up her skates, she will always be close to the game and the Varsity Blues are proud to have her as an assistant coach.

Noureddin Chahrour BKIN 1T5

This recent grad has got a jump start on his future with success on the popular Dragons’ Den television show last spring (see Alumni Updates on page 32). As an undergraduate, he developed a line of clothing known as Adrenalease that supports ideal posture with adjustable build-in straps. A $90,000 investment from the Dragons set him on the right path to continue to develop his company under the guidance of the University’s Impact Centre. Best of luck to Noureddin as he fuses his entrepreneurial spirit with exercise science-based research for a bright future. —RK

Alumni Updates

In Memory

John “Jay” Gillespie Trinity 7T8, OISE 8T1, Squash

The squash community lost a prominent member in February to cancer. After a notable career as a student athlete, which earned him a place in the U of T Sports Hall of Fame, Jay went on to dominate the competition earning 46 doubles titles from Ontario to international level competition, as well as 4 singles titles. He was a member of the Ontario Squash Hall of Fame, an educator, a coach known for inspiring youth and a lover of the outdoors where he spent much of his time.

Alice Jones (nee Shank) BPHE 7T0, OISE 7T1, Hockey, Field Hockey

Byron C. Peebles BPHE 5T2

Varsity Blues and PHE alumni mourned the passing of Alice Jones (nee Shank), who lost her battle with cancer last spring. Alice was a treasured teammate and classmate. She was a goalie on the hockey team and full back on the field hockey team. Alice will be remembered as a great friend to many. She is survived by her five siblings, four children and eleven grandchildren.

On March 17, Byron died peacefully in his 93rd year. Survived by his wife Doreen, three children and grandson, he was an educator who worked for several years in Northern Ontario before joining the Etobicoke Board of Education for the remainder of his career.

James (Jim) McMahon St. Michael’s College 6T7, Football Beloved member of the champion 1965 football team, Jim passed away in January a few months after the fiftieth reunion of his team. Always at the forefront of Varsity Blues football, he was a conference all-star in 1965. As an alumnus, he championed the program as a founding member and second president of the Friends of Football fundraising foundation. He will be remembered fondly by his team and family.

PHOTO/ Torontonensis

Patricia Ann Smith (nee DeCarlo) BPHE 6T5 This educator and gymnast passed away in February at the age of 72. Patricia taught for 32 years rising to the rank of vice-principal and always maintaining involvement in physical activity as a gymnastics coach and ballet enthusiast. She also had a passion for skiing, swimming and gardening, to name a few of her pastimes. —RK Our condolences to family and friends.



TIME OUT Badges of honour By Jelena Damjanovic

When pediatrician Samuel Hurwitz (Medicine 3T1, Basketball) passed away, he left his grandson a piece of history from his time at U of T, where he studied medicine and played intercollegiate and intramural basketball in the 1920s. A framed series of varsity letters and championship patches reflect the story of a successful athletic career and of a young man devoted to his school and squad – a squad that only lost one game over three seasons. His grandson, Matt Hurwitz, who shares a similar passion for basketball and works as the San Francisco Warriors’ PA announcer, has donated this beautifully presented collection of memorabilia for U of T alumni to enjoy as a glimpse into the remarkable history of the university’s long-esteemed athletics program.

Toronto and District Amateur Basketball Association (TDABA) crest recognizing the Blues as champions of the Junior Division in 1927.

The crest Mr. Hurwitz received as member of the Faculty of Medicine’s championship team in the Intramural Junior Division in 1926–27.



U of T men’s intercollegiate First Colour, which Mr. Hurwitz would have earned several times.

The Canadian Intercollegiate Basketball Union division crest (CIBU), made up of Toronto, McGill, Queen’s and Western, at the time. The Blues were the Senior Division champions in 1927–28.

The crest awarded to the Blues as champions of the Juvenile Division in 1926.

The official Faculty of Medicine Athletic Association crest from this period presented to Mr. Hurwitz in recognition of his participation on the Faculty of Medicine intramural teams.

The crest presented to the Blues in recognition for achieving the CIBU championship again in 1928–29.

PHOTO/ Joel Jackson

F a c u l t y o f K i n e s i o l o g y a n d P h y s i c a l E d u c a t i o n a n d t h e T- H o l d e r s ’ A s s o c i a t i o n p r e s e n t


Sports Hall of Fame 2016 Induction Ceremony



Ellen (Wilson) Buzek

Harry Griffith

Trinity College 3T7, Tennis


Marlene Donaldson

John McManus

BPHE 5T0, Woodsworth College 6T2, Coach

BPHE 0T1, Rugby

George Gross Jr.

David Wright

OISE 7T7, Water Polo

OISE 1T0, Coach

Victor Harding

Gordon Wright

Trinity College 7T0, Squash

Engineering 3T5, Fitness Administrator

Brett Hennenfent

Engineering 8T3, Rugby


Laurel Johnson

Trinity College 9T7, Basketball

1959–63 Men’s Rugby

5-time Intercollegiate Champions

Eddy Meguerian

St. Michael’s College 9T7, Basketball

1994–95 Men’s Basketball OUA Champions

Mike Raham

Dentistry 6T9, Football

Ruth (Pullan) Volpe

BPHE 4T9, Diving & Swimming

1995–96 Women’s Basketball Laurel Johnson, Basketball

OUA Champions

Thursday, June 2, 2016 6:00 p.m. – Reception • 7:00 p.m. – Ceremony Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, Kimel Family Field House, 100 Devonshire Place Tickets available online at my.alumni.utoronto.ca/halloffame or contact Rachel Keeling at 416-946-5126 or rachel.keeling@utoronto.ca Adults: $30 Children 12 and under: Free Business attire. Cash bar and light refreshments at the reception. Donations to support this great tradition are encouraged.

Sit Courtside We’re adding new courtside seats to get fans closer to the action! Donors who contribute $2,000 or more will have their names prominently displayed on the back of these prime, courtside seats in the Kimel Family Field House at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport! We will honour these esteemed donors with an exclusive invitation to a special game reception.

Donation Form

I would like to purchase ______ seat(s) for a total of: ______

Method of Payment:  My cheque made payable to the University of Toronto is enclosed  Visa

 Yes I /We would like my/our name(s) to appear on donor recognition lists. Additionally, I would like my name(s) permanently displayed on the back of a seat at the Goldring Centre, as indicated:

 MasterCard


Card number _______________________________ Expiry Date_____ __________ __________________________________ Name of Cardholder (please print)

_________________________________ Signature

Full Name______________________________________________________________

____________________________________________________ (please print)

For additional information, please contact Jessica Kovacs by phone at 416-978-6944 or at jessica.kovacs@utoronto.ca

Address________________________________________________________________ City___________________Prov./State_______Postal/Zip Code____________ Telephone (_____)____________Telephone – Business (_____)_______________ Email____________________________________________________________________________________

Thank you for investing in the University of Toronto. Please send your donation to: Alumni Office, 55 Harbord St., Toronto, ON M5S 2W6. The University of Toronto will acknowledge donors by displaying their names on front row, courtside seats in the Goldring Centre. All donations will be acknowledged with a charitable tax receipt. Project: 0560012958 Fund: 431071 Solicitation: KPE17SPEMKPEDUALLAFF Charitable Registration Number: BN 108162330-RR0001

Publication Mailing Agreement #40065214 Return undeliverable Canadian addresses to:


55 Harbord Street Toronto, Ontario M5S 2W6