Pursuit Summer 2021

Page 1

University of Toronto

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education SUMMER 2021 / VOL. 23, NO. 1



END OF AN ERA Dean Ira Jacobs leaves a legacy of success

BLUE GIVES BACK New scholarship for Black student-athletes

CELEBRATING A LEGEND Tom Watt to be inducted into Ontario Sports Hall of Fame


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SUMMER 2021 / VOL. 23, NO. 1



4 Full Circle

Gretchen Kerr appointed dean of Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education


Fitness for Seniors Why it's important and how to do it

20 Triple Jumps and Chicken Coups Varsity Blues athlete Brenna Hamel stays sharp during COVID-19

28 Man with a Plan

Dean Ira Jacobs leaves a legacy of building capacity and driving change



32 What's Next?

The possible future after the impossible present

38 Life Line

KPE alumna leads fundraising efforts for Kids Help Phone during COVID-19

56 Meet John Braithwaite

Celebrating the first Black athlete to play on the Varsity Blues men's basketball team.



Editorial Comments

Publication Agreement Number:

Sarah Baker

Nick Alessi, Jeff Caton, Jill Clark, Keith Cyphus, Christian Erfurt, John Hryniuk, Joel Jackson, David Lee, Jing Ling Kao-Beserve, Sgt. Johanie Maheu, Seyran Mammodov, Seed9, Jimmy Wang, Cindy Yelle,

P: 416-978-1663 sarah.e.baker@utoronto.ca


Associate Editor Jelena Damjanovic

Art Direction and Design Joel Jackson

Cover Joel Jackson/iStock

Contributors Jill Clark, Jelena Damjanovic, Miles Dichter, Paul Fraumeni, Janet Gunn, Ira Jacobs, Emily Kakouris, Rahul Kalvapalle, Sylvia Lorico, Makeda Marc-Ali, John Robb, Nathan Sager

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Message from the Dean

FINISHING STRONG Ready to welcome the next era


his will be my final Pursuit “Message from the Dean,” and it is hard to fathom that 11 years have passed since my first such message in Pursuit to alumni and friends of our Faculty. That September 2010 message was my first opportunity to describe the planning work that was going on to lay out a future vision for our Faculty – a transparent expression of a desired future state, as well as the path that needed to be navigated to arrive at that outcome. We were not shy in that regard in collectively endorsing this vision statement:

“We aim to achieve international recognition for our excellence in research, teaching and practice, and for inspiring our University community and nation to achieve higher levels of engagement in healthy physical activity and sports.” That vision has been the anchor over the last decade for decision making, prioritization and allocation of resources to the many, many creative initiatives generated by our professors, students and staff – all focused on the vision and expressed in more detail in our Academic Plan (university jargon for a strategic plan). Our plan was definitely not one that sat on a shelf; rather, it has been key to guiding us to the point that I now proudly boast to all who will listen that our vision is no longer aspirational, but rather reality. The University of Toronto programs in kinesiology, exercise science and sportrelated studies are ranked among the top university programs in the world by a prominent university world ranking organization (fifth in the world for the last three consecutive years), and we are well placed to be propelled upwards on that list because of the tremendous collective power of our inspirational professors, students and staff. In reflecting further about my first message and its relevance to today, I recall it referred to a comment made to me by then U of T President David Naylor. He noted that our Faculty “touches more students than any other Faculty at our University.” A decade later and what has changed is that



the number of “touches” has increased remarkably – otherwise that comment still rings very true, unsurprisingly so because it is rooted in the mission of our Faculty: “… to develop, advance and disseminate knowledge about physical activity, health, and their interactions through education, research, leadership and the provision of opportunity.” That “provision of opportunity” mandate has been the framework for the planning and delivery of university-wide sport and recreation programs by our Faculty touching students, staff and faculty from all divisions of the University, as well as the residents of the communities around us. In many ways that mandate is the epitome of experiential education. It’s hard to believe that we have now been facing the challenges presented by COVID-19 for a whole year. Our agility in adapting successfully is wholly due to the dedicated efforts of our staff, students and faculty members. I feel so very grateful for the honour and privilege of having been the dean for a decade, and the opportunities to meet and work with our passionate and committed academic and studentathlete communities of alumni and friends. Thank you for your continued support and engagement. I look forward to continuing to work with you in supporting the leadership of our incoming dean, Professor Gretchen Kerr. Sincerely,

Ira Jacobs, Dean

Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education Photo/ Seed9

Field Notes

The New Normal — Students participate in physically distanced yoga on Back Campus Fields. Photo/ Jill Clark

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes


Gretchen Kerr appointed dean of U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education



Photo/ Seed9

Field Notes


rofessor Gretchen Kerr, a world-renowned kinesiology and physical education scholar and expert on the treatment of youth and women in sport, has been appointed dean of the Faculty. She will assume her new role at KPE on July 1, 2021 for a five-year term. Being named dean of KPE marks yet another milestone for Kerr at the University. She earned both a bachelor’s degree and her PhD from U of T before going on to establish herself as a leading researcher in areas such as safe sport in Canada, ethical coaching practices and women in sport.

“Becoming the dean of KPE after being a student and professor in the Faculty is a bit like closing the circle,” said Kerr, who also helped craft the organizational structure of KPE, which was established in 1998. “I’m fortunate that my background in the Faculty has afforded the benefits of understanding its developments across time, including how the Faculty has built upon its strengths and has adapted and grown to meet various challenges.”

“Her vision, leadership and keen insight into critical issues such as safety, inclusion and ethics will be tremendous assets as she takes the helm of the Faculty and charts a course for the future.” Kerr brings a wealth of administrative experience to her new role. As vice-dean, programs and innovation at the School of Graduate Studies, Kerr set up a Dissertation Working Group to support graduate students and revamped the school’s Graduate Professional Development program. Prior to that, she served as vice-dean, academic affairs at KPE, where she oversaw the development of the Bachelor of Kinesiology program and Master of Professional Kinesiology program – the first master’s-level program of its kind in Ontario. Kerr takes over as dean from Professor Ira Jacobs. She credited Jacobs with taking steps to strengthen the Faculty and contributing to its reputation as one of the top academic programs in the world for kinesiology, physical education, sport and exercise sciences.

“Becoming the dean of KPE after being a student and professor in the Faculty is a bit like closing the circle.”

Kerr’s research on the treatment of women and youth in sport is widely acknowledged to have had a tangible and lasting impact on Canada’s sports landscape, particularly through her collaborations with organizations such as the Canadian Olympic Committee, Canadian Paralympic Committee, Canadian Centre for Ethics in Sport and the Coaching Association of Canada. She also played a key role in developing the Universal Code of Conduct to Prevent and Address Maltreatment in Sport, which all Canadian national sports organizations must adopt, and chaired U of T’s Expert Panel on Sexual Violence Education and Prevention, helping to lay the groundwork for many of the programs offered by U of T’s Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre. Recently, Kerr was awarded a grant to create a new Canadian Gender Equity in Sport Research Hub. “Professor Kerr’s research, teaching, academic administration and partnerships have played a key role in establishing KPE’s international reputation as a centre for excellence and innovation in kinesiology and physical education,” said Cheryl Regehr, U of T’s vice-president and provost.

“He has laid the groundwork that will be so critical for the next chapter of development at KPE,” Kerr said. “Critical to meeting this objective will be embedding principles of equity, diversity and inclusion into all that we do – from the recruitment of students, staff and faculty to the provision of resources and supports, and design of academic and co-curricular programs.”

Kerr lauded the KPE community’s strength in the face of the adversities presented by the COVID-19 pandemic. “Faculty, staff, students and student-athletes have shown tremendous resilience throughout the pandemic, and it’s no wonder given the evidence showing that engaging in physical activity and sport helps to build skills of resiliency,” Kerr said. “That’s not to say that this hasn’t been a challenging time for everyone, but the pandemic presents us with important opportunities to think about doing things better and more equitably post-pandemic. “It will be a time of exploring which changes we’ll make permanent, which we’ll revise, and which we’ll abandon in favour of pre-pandemic practices. Given the Faculty’s strengths, I have every confidence that there will be growth emerging from this period of adversity.” — Rahul Kalvapalle Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes

NEW KIDS ON THE BLOCK KPE welcomes four new faculty


he Faculty welcomed four new faculty members last summer. Robert Bentley, Amy Kirkham, Adam Ali and Timothy Burkhart assumed the positions of assistant professors on July 1, 2020.

Robert Bentley and Amy Kirkham accepted appointments to tenure stream positions at the rank of assistant professor in the area of cardiovascular and cardiorespiratory exercise physiology. Bentley completed his PhD in cardiovascular physiology in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in 2016. His doctorate was followed by a postdoctoral position, during which he conducted research in the laboratories of KPE Professor Jack Goodman and Associate Professor Susanna Mak of the Faculty of Medicine at the University of Toronto. “My interest in exercise physiology was sparked when I was a teenager. While playing highly competitive hockey, I suffered a severe facial injury and had my jaw wired shut for eight weeks. While recovering, I noticed a stark reduction in my fitness and performance. Without appreciating the underlying physiological changes at the time, I simply wanted to restore my fitness and performance as quickly as possible. This experience drove my initial education in exercise physiology, which over the years has grown into a passion for exploring oxygen delivery and the cardiovascular response to exercise,” says Bentley. Bentley’s research will focus on oxygen delivery and precision phenotyping in health and cardiovascular disease. Specifically, he will be determining the mechanisms and health/exercise performance implications of disparate vasodilatory (the widening of blood vessels), cardiac and blood pressure responses. “The overarching goal of my research is to inform strategies and interventions to improve exercise performance, exercise tolerance and quality of life across the health spectrum,” he says.




Timothy Bu

Adam Ali Kirkham completed her PhD in rehabilitation sciences in 2016 on the topic of cardiac and exercise oncology in the Department of Physical Therapy in the Faculty of Medicine at the University of British Columbia. She completed her post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering in the Faculty of Medicine and Dentistry at the University of Alberta, focusing on cardiovascular magnetic resonance imaging. “My first research study in graduate school saw me helping out with an exercise training intervention during chemotherapy for breast cancer. I was immediately struck by the importance and potential impact of the exercise program for the women in the study and became interested in the cardiac side effects of cancer treatment,” says Kirkham. Her research will apply cutting-edge, non-invasive imaging techniques to study precisely prescribed lifestyle interventions to prevent and improve cardiovascular dysfunction and disease, with an emphasis on women. A primary focus will be on cardiovascular disease in breast cancer survivors, the top cause of death of women in Canada. “While exercise is a key diagnostic and therapeutic tool, I take a multi-disciplinary approach to both research and teaching. My research and teaching will focus on clinical populations, primarily cardiac and cancer, but also other chronic diseases, and incorporate an appreciation for the individual impact and synergies with exercise of other lifestyle interventions including especially nutrition, but also management of smoking, stress, or sleep as potential risk factors,” says Kirkham. Although she studies exercise in clinical populations, Kirkham’s personal and academic beginnings were in high performance sport. She competed at the provincial, national or international levels in the sports of cross country running, track and field, road cycling and triathlon. During her undergraduate degree at York University, she pursued the Photos/ Provided

Field Notes

Robert Bentley

Amy Kirkham

athletic therapy program while concurrently competing on the varsity cross country and track teams. During graduate school in Vancouver, she competed internationally as a professional triathlete. “While I no longer compete seriously, I still ‘walk the talk’ as an exercise physiology researcher by commuting by bicycle year-round, even in -30 degrees Celsius weather, mountain biking, lifting weights and practicing yoga,” says Kirkham. Adam Ali accepted a two-year term appointment at the rank of assistant professor, teaching stream. He completed his PhD in the School of Kinesiology and Health Studies at Queen’s University in 2019. His doctoral research examined the issue of sport as a tool of de-radicalization, examining connections between physical culture, race, terror and surveillance. Ali translated his research into a fourth-year seminar course in KPE called Sport and the War on Terror, which examines how contemporary renditions of sport and physical cultures have emerged alongside and been shaped by the continuing global war on terrorism. “I was excited to teach this course once again in the fall term,” he says. Ali did his post-doctoral fellowship at KPE under the mentorship of Assistant Professor Simon Darnell, researching the history, policy and practice of sport for development and environmental sustainability, his second area of research interest. As part of this research, he is currently working with Darnell on a project that explores sport and international development as they relate to environmental sustainability. “I interrogate the relationship between sport, sustainability and the environment, and the broader impacts of this relationship for the struggle against climate change.”

Ali is a proud alumnus of the Faculty’s undergraduate program, having earned his Bachelor of Physical Health and Education in 2010. A member of the prestigious R. Tait McKenzie Society, he recently spoke at the annual event about anti-Islamic racism and the rise of sport for de-radicalization. “I am thrilled to join this illustrious faculty, many of whom I had the privilege to learn from throughout my undergraduate tenure. I am most looking forward to continuing to teach our outstanding undergraduate cohort. As a former student of the program, it is a privilege to be able to bestow the knowledge I have gained onto the next generation of national leaders in sport studies,” he says. “In addition to teaching, I am also looking forward to assisting the Faculty fulfill its anti-racist and justice-related objectives through my work on the Equity Committee.” Timothy Burkhart accepted an appointment to a tenure stream position at the rank of assistant professor in the area of biomechanics and motor control. Burkhart completed his PhD in engineering with a focus on biomechanical engineering at the University of Windsor in 2012. His doctorate was followed by a post-doctoral fellowship in the Department of Mechanical and Materials Engineering at Western University. He will be coming to KPE from the Lawson Health Research Institute at the London Health Sciences Centre, where he worked as a research scientist. Burkhart’s research is within the field of lower extremity injury, orthopaedic and musculoskeletal biomechanics with a focus on sports medicine, orthopaedic surgery and bone fractures. The primary goal of his research is to advance the reduction, treatment and rehabilitation of lower extremity orthopaedic-related issues to improve long-term health, performance and quality of life. “Our latest faculty additions are all prolific researchers in their field of expertise with impressive records of student mentoring experiences, research, peer-reviewed journal publications and knowledge translation activities,” says Professor Ira Jacobs, dean of KPE. “Moreover, they all have strong research networking and collaboration histories that leave me confident that they will continue and accelerate their trajectories of academic and research excellence in our Faculty. I am excited to welcome them on board.” — Jelena Damjanovic Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes


KPE launches academic brand platform

How we move T

his fall, the Faculty started telling its story in a bold new way. Following 10 months of research and consultation with students, staff, alumni and faculty members, KPE launched its new academic brand platform.

Developed with the goal of more cohesively expressing the vision, values and experiences that characterize the Faculty, the platform is built around a bold tagline: “How we move.” These three words aim to convey the ethos and energy of the students, programs and researchers at KPE. Grounded in the Faculty’s multidisciplinary lenses, the tagline can refer to the biophysical and mechanical qualities of movement, but it also refers to the Faculty's physical, cultural and behavioural lenses of focus, such as moving the needle on policy or moving public understanding and behaviour of physical activity.

intentionally chosen as a symbol of wholeness and inclusion: circles carry great meaning in Indigenous culture (e.g. the medicine wheel, healing circles, etc.). Complementary to the University’s trademark blue, orange is also a colour associated with enthusiasm, creativity, stimulation, determination and success – all values associated with KPE. Bright, positive imagery supports the brand, along with a graphic element called gestures – quickly-sketched studies of human figures in motion. The gestures capture the energetic and driven nature of KPE, with the somewhat undefined style alluding to possibilities and the future-focused aspects of the Faculty’s work. Throughout the academic year, the brand has come alive across the Faculty, through print and digital communications, as well as in physical spaces in KPE’s buildings.

“The Faculty has seen a lot of growth and change in the last The 36th Annual Educational Advertising Awards decade and not only does this brand platform reflect who we are, competition took notice and awarded the Faculty gold for it speaks to where we’re headed,” says Ashley Stirling, vice-dean, its KINections microsite, a one-stop shop for information academic affairs. “It also gives us an opportunity to showcase on all the ways kinesiology students can connect and get our strengths as one of the top-ranked kinesiology programs involved beyond the classroom, silver for a short digital video in the world by sharing the amazing stories and experiences welcoming students back to the 2020/21 school year, and that we hear about regularly from our researchers, students and bronze for the reimagined student viewbooks showcasing staff. Bringing those stories to the forefront in a consistent and undergraduate and graduate programs at the Faculty. compelling way will strengthen our reputation and ensure that we continue to attract the best from around the world.” “There’s so much about KPE that is innovative, unique, and energizing,” says Ira Jacobs, dean of the Faculty. “Our Building upon the University of Toronto’s existing visual academic brand platform is integral to conveying the identity, KPE’s academic branding incorporates new elements, dynamism and creativity that characterizes the Faculty – including an orange sign-off circle. The orange circle was today and well into the future.” — Makeda Marc-Ali



Field Notes

EQUAL PLAY Gretchen Kerr wants to close the gender equity gap in sport


port has not kept pace with the advances in gender equity seen in other domains in Canada, according to Professor Gretchen Kerr, the Faculty's incoming dean. Girls and women in sport have lower participation rates, report significantly higher experiences of violence than their male counterparts and the number of women in coaching positions is on the decline.

With funding from the Government of Canada, Kerr and her colleagues – Professors Guylaine Demers of Laval University and Ann Pegoraro from the University of Guelph – have launched the Research Hub for Gender+ Equity in Sport, an internationally recognized research and innovation centre that collects, generates and disseminates research on gender equity in sport. “The launch of the Research Hub for Gender+ Equity in Sport is an important step in achieving gender equity in Canadian sport,” said Steven Guilbeault, Minister of Canadian Heritage, at the official launch. “The hub’s work will help create environments where girls and women feel comfortable participating in sport, regardless of their age and level.” The Government of Canada invested $1.6 million in the development of the hub, as one of the federal government's initiatives to achieve gender equity in sport at all levels by 2035.

The research hub comprises a unique network of gender equity experts and researchers from the academic and sport community, as well as government and NGO bodies. Together, they will seek to advance gender equity in sport with a special emphasis on participation and leadership. “With respect to participation, we are referring to the engagement of girls and women as participants in all levels of sport – from recreational or local club levels, to provincial and national level sport,” said Kerr. “Leadership refers to women in positions such as coaching, officiating and sport administration at local, provincial and national levels of Canadian sport.” The research hub will build databases of research associated with the two main themes of participation and leadership, and commission, deliver and support research projects that attempt to answer questions associated with these themes. Two other priorities – inadequate media coverage and gender-based violence – will be examined as barriers under the two main themes. “We have had unparalleled support for this hub, as evidenced by the expressed interest from researchers from 10 universities across Canada, as well as letters of support from six key organizations in the sport sector at national and international levels,” said Kerr. “We also have unmatched research support and infrastructure at the University of Toronto, Canada’s top research intensive university.” — JD

According to recent research: • • • •

41 per cent of girls age 3 to 17 and 84 per cent of women do not participate in sport; 1 in 3 girls is likely to drop out of sport between the ages of 9 and 12; women’s sport occupies only 4 per cent of all sports media coverage; only 16 per cent of coaches at the national level and 25 per cent of coaches at all levels of sport in Canada are women.

Photo/ iStock

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes


KPE snatches four out of 10 SIRC Researcher/Practitioner Match Grants


ut of 10 projects funded by the Sport Information Resource Centre (SIRC) this year, four came out of KPE. The grants were introduced in 2019 to connect researchers and national sport organizations in advancing Canadian sport and the physical activity sector.

Michael Jorgensen, a second-year doctoral student in the Faculty, was one of the grant recipients for a research study that investigates referee experiences managing concussion injury risk in Canadian amateur rugby. Specifically, he’ll be looking at the effectiveness of the Blue Card process, which lets match officials show a blue card to an athlete with a suspected concussion in the same manner they would hold up a yellow or red card, if appropriate. “The Blue Card has been already successfully introduced in Australia, New Zealand and France and piloted at several levels of competition in Ontario, with plans to implement it across all levels of competition this summer,” says Jorgensen, himself a rugby player and certified referee, who also volunteers as assistant coach with the Varsity Blues men’s rugby team.

Jorgensen already completed a pilot project exploring the experiences of rugby match officials in managing concussion risk using the Blue Card process earlier this year. The funding from SIRC will help expand that study through the summer and allow him to also examine the specific experiences of female match officials, who make up approximately 20 per cent of referees in Ontario. “Referees play a critical role in the risk management process,” says Jorgensen. “Understanding their experiences will help address knowledge gaps and misconceptions, and is necessary to improve the overall effectiveness of injury risk management strategies such as the Blue Card.”  KPE Associate Professor and Jorgensen’s supervisor Lynda Mainwaring says Jorgensen’s research is the first to examine referees’ experiences in helping to manage concussion risks and will provide evidence and evaluation of risk management strategies in sport.

“This is a great example of young scholars making a difference and “I’ll be exploring the Blue Card process as contributing to safe sport initiatives,” it is being implemented and help inform she says. “ I am privileged to work with Rugby Canada as they look to implement such wonderful students.” it in other provincial rugby unions.”



The three other recipients of the SIRC Researcher/Practitioner Grant with ties to KPE are: Malinda Hapuarachchi, a doctoral student at KPE, who will be working with Field Hockey Ontario and Field Hockey Canada on a research project looking into using the kinetic profile of vertical jumping tasks to identify if differences exist between age cohorts within Field Hockey Canada’s female high performance development pathway athletes. She will be supervised by KPE Associate Professor Luc Tremblay. Alexander Mckenzie, a master’s student in the Department of Kinesiology at Windsor University, who will be working on a project with the Black Canadian Coaches Association to explore race, gender and leadership equity in sport under the supervision of KPE Assistant Professor Janelle Joseph.  Ross Murray, a post-doctoral fellow working with KPE Professor Catherine Sabiston, who will be collaborating with Fast and Female, a registered charity focused on empowering girls through sport, to create an evidencebased impact assessment tool. — JD

Photo/ Seyran Mammodov

Field Notes



KPE students study impact of COVID-19 on physical activity among cancer survivors


ngaging in regular physical activity has been an important strategy in helping cancer survivors improve their physical and mental health. However, doing enough physical activity to reap the benefits has been challenging at the best of times. With COVID-19, the barriers to physical activity have been raised even higher, leading to even less participation from this population.

“Not only do their weakened immune systems put them at a greater risk for severe outcomes from COVID-19, the symptoms normally associated with a cancer diagnosis such as increased fatigue and stress may be amplified due to the pandemic,” says Allyson Tabaczynski, a PhD student in the Faculty, who was recently awarded the Karen Calfas Physical Activity Student Research Excellence Award by the Society of Behavioral Medicine. “While there are many useful resources for cancer survivors available, they were developed prior to the start of pandemic. To design effective interventions and resources for cancer survivors as the pandemic progresses, we need to understand their unique experiences since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.” With help from U of T’s COVID-19 Student Engagement Award, that’s exactly what Tabaczynski will be doing, along with fellow kinesiology students Alexis Whitehorn and Denise Bastas. All three are part of the Faculty’s Exercise Oncology Lab, led by Assistant Professor Linda Trinh. “With 18 million people living with cancer in the world today, understanding and improving the health and well-being of this population is of global importance,” says Trinh. “COVID-19 Photo/ iStock

has placed a high burden on health care systems all over the world. The self-management of health, when possible, through well-established benefits of physical activity can help alleviate some of this burden.” Tabaczynski, Whitehorn and Bastas have developed an online survey that has been disseminated to cancer survivors around the world, asking them a series of questions about their cancer diagnosis, individual and government mandated COVID-19 prevention measures that have been enacted in their parts of the world, their quality of life, cognitive functioning, and overall mental and physical health. The survey also asked them about their current lifestyle behaviours, such as physical activity levels versus sedentary behaviours, and how these have changed since the start of the pandemic. “We are looking to understand what their attitudes and barriers are towards performing physical activity during the pandemic, what resources they have to stay active, as well as how conducive their home and immediate neighbourhood environments are to performing physical activity,” says Whitehorn, who will be continuing her graduate studies of kinesiology as a doctoral student in Trinh’s lab come September. “This will enable us to get a preliminary understanding of the health impact of COVID-19 and identify specific areas that need attention for effective health promotion across cultural and contextual circumstances.” Trinh’s next project will be developing a distance-based intervention for reducing sedentary behaviour in prostate cancer survivors with the help of a prestigious Canadian Institute of Health Research (CIHR) grant awarded to her in March 2021. — JD Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes Exercise VCO2

Tital Volume







Altitude Altitude

3 2 1












Resistive & Obstructive Diseases Elastance




10 20




25 2.6







State 2








Cardiac Output














Arterial Carbon Dioxide


State 4








Arterial Oxygen





arlier this year, KPE Professor Scott Thomas came across a study about an application tool called RespiLab. Developed in Spain by Alher Mauricio Hernandez, Miguel Angel Mananas and Ramon CostaCastelló, RespiLab is a computer model that uses stimuli and responses to help students understand how the body responds to challenges such as exercise, altitude and changes in lung structure.




V= 1.0 A= 0.0 P= 0 E= 10.0 R= 2.6

120 100 80 60





3000 time (s)






Time Axis Steady State

Entire Calculation

time (s)




Students in KPE 264 get a broad understanding of the human body’s physiological response to exercise, specifically the response of the skeletal muscle metabolic and cardiorespiratory systems. “This is knowledge that can be applied to both sport performance and human health,” says Gillen.

The students in her course were able to use RespiLab in Intrigued, Thomas emailed the authors to find out more asynchronous labs to test out different challenges to the about how the app works and how it could be applied respiratory system and to look at how breathing, blood gases in KPE to teach respiratory physiology. He then teamed and the heart respond. up with Cathie Kessler, a laboratory coordinator and technician at the Faculty, for help in adapting the app for “The great thing about using a computer simulation is that web use. Several months later, the app was ready to be used you can try out challenges that would not be possible in an in KPE 264, a second-year introductory course to exercise in-person laboratory,” says Thomas. “For example, you can physiology taught by Assistant Professor Jenna Gillen. see what happens if you set the model for moderate intensity exercise at four kilometers altitude for a person with asthma. “I was really excited for the students to use the app in their It also puts some control in the students’ hands because they respiratory and cardiovascular physiology labs,” says can try out experiments that they themselves create.” Gillen. What makes RespiLab unique, according to Thomas, is that “Laboratory activities are designed to complement and it not only helps students learn about a complex topic such help reinforce key concepts discussed in lectures, as as respiratory physiology, but it also introduces them to well as provide students with a more hands-on learning widespread computer models. experience. This usually involves in-person exercise testing in the lab, but in light of current restrictions, this “My hope is that once these simulations are established in app allowed us to still meet those pedagogical goals while Jenna’s course, we can continue to develop them and use them also providing an exciting new tool for our students.” in other courses across the Faculty,” says Thomas. — JD



V= 1.0 A= 0.0 P= 0 E= 10.0 R= 2.6

State 5




V= 0.5 A= 0 P= 0 E= 10.0 R= 2.6



V= 0.2 A= 0 P= 30 E= 10.0 R= 2.6

State 3









Q (L/min)



PaCO2 (Torr)



Respiratory Rate





Hypercapnia PiCO2

V= 0.2 A= 3.0 P= 0 E= 10.0 R= 2.6




0 0

VE (L/min)


VT (L)


RR (breaths/min)

KPE students test body responses to exercise using computer simulation


PaCO2 (Torr)



State 1


4 0.2

Minute Ventilation


Field Notes

Exercise Snacks Short physical activity regulates blood sugar levels following a meal


hether you’re working from home or an office, the modern workday often involves spending hours sitting in front of a computer screen.

Not surprisingly, there’s a cost to such sedentary behaviour.

demonstrate that body-weight resistance exercise, such as the repeated chair stands, are just as effective for improving glycemic control in adults who engage in prolonged periods of sitting or at an office but are otherwise healthy.

“Importantly, repeated chair stands require no equipment or space beyond one’s sedentary area and may represent a practical strategy for mitigating cardiometabolic disease risk associated with prolonged periods of sitting,” says Gillen. “These findings are especially timely now when many individuals are looking for physical activity strategies “While increased insulin following a meal is normal, that can be performed at home without the need for exaggerated spikes in the hormone can be an early sign of risk additional space or equipment.” for metabolic diseases, like type 2 diabetes, as it suggests the body is working harder to lower blood sugar concentration However, the researchers did not see a reduction in blood after meals.” sugar concentrations throughout the day in response to the exercise snacks. This was surprising because studies in adults The good news is that we can do something about it and it with obesity and/or impaired blood sugar regulation seen involves snacking – on exercise. in type 2 diabetes have demonstrated that exercise snacks can lower post-meal spikes in blood sugar concentration. Gillen worked with a team of researchers from KPE and the Gillen believes the explanation may lie in the fact that the Temerty Faculty of Medicine to investigate whether breaking participants of this study were relatively healthy with normal up periods of prolonged sitting with short exercise “snacks” blood sugar concentrations. could improve blood sugar regulation throughout the day in men and women. Recently published in the Journal of “What this suggests is that exercise snacks in adults who Applied Physiology, their findings suggest that interrupting engage in prolonged periods of sitting, but are otherwise sitting with brief bouts of repeated chair stands or treadmill healthy, are more likely to reduce the amount of insulin walking can reduce increases in post-meal insulin induced by required to control blood sugar following a meal,” she says. too much sitting. Gillen emphasizes that, while exercise snacks are beneficial The study found that interrupting eight hours of prolonged to anyone who spends a lot of time sitting during the day, sitting every 30 minutes with one minute of repeated chair they should not be interpreted as a replacement for daily stands or two minutes of treadmill walking lowered insulin moderate-to-vigorous physical activity. concentrations following lunch. Short walks have previously been shown to be effective, but this was the first study to “That’s still very important,” she says. — JD “Periods of prolonged sitting can be associated with elevated increases in the concentration of blood insulin, a hormone that regulates our blood sugar concentration following meals,” says Jenna Gillen, an assistant professor in the Faculty.

Photos/ shutterstock

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes


Robin Campbell, mentor, coach and friend, retires after 20+ years of service


fter more than 20 years leading the Faculty’s advancement and alumni affairs, Robin Campbell retired last June. His long history with the Faculty goes back all the way to his days as an undergraduate student when he joined the physical health and education program, completing his bachelor degree in 1968.

During his time as a student, he was a member of the swim team, competing on three national championship teams including the 1965–66 OQAA and CIAU championship team, which was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame in 2017. Following graduation, Campbell became the youngest university swim coach in Canada, when he took on the role of coaching the Varsity Blues men's swimming team at the age of 26. He coached the team until 1978 and was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame as a builder in 2012 in recognition of his outstanding achievements.

bridges with countless outside stakeholders and supporters,” wrote University of Toronto President Emeritus David Naylor in a tribute to Campbell. “He’s been a relentless fund-raiser, raising $220M for the Faculty, including $20M in endowed funds, the completion of the Goldring Centre/Kimel Family Field House capital campaigns, and an unprecedented level of annual giving. “Importantly, he’s been a mentor, coach and friend to everyone, sharing his insights with warmth, wisdom and humility. It is hard for me to imagine the University or KPE without Robin as a constant force and moving spirit, but I am reassured by a sense that he will still be part of KPE activities and University athletics in retirement,” concluded Naylor. Over the years, the Faculty has acquired more than 6,000 donors – or devoted alumni and friends, as Campbell calls them – who want to give back.

Campbell left the University in 1981 to take a position at the Toronto Rehab Centre, where he became the administrative director in 1991. He volunteered with Project Blue, one of U “I miss the regular communications with them and am trying of T’s first fundraising campaigns, in the 1990s, eventually to stay in touch with as many as possible,” he said. “I also getting hired full-time by the Faculty as executive director. miss the interactions between professors, coaches and senior Campbell led the Varsity Centre campaign, raising $58 managers to find ways to enhance student experiences.” million for the construction of the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.   For now, Campbell is enjoying spending more time with the extended families of his brother and sister, their five “Over two decades, Robin masterfully supported both KPE, children and nine grandchildren – even if it is over Zoom. Varsity Blues and their combined alumni, all while building He has also been advising several charities and “enjoying



Photos (clockwise) KPE archives / Joel Jackson / KPE archives / John Hryniuk

Field Notes

Luc Tremblay completes term as associate dean of research


not having to go to the office every day.” And, he is looking forward to traveling again, as soon as it is safe to do so. “I wish all of our staff success in their careers and hope that the alumni and friends that have helped us so much stay in touch.” For his contributions to the Faculty, Campbell was awarded the Thomas R. Loudon Award. The award, created by the University of Toronto Athletic Directorate in 1962, honours outstanding services in the advancement of athletics. The Faculty also established the Robin B. Campbell GSEF Fellowship in honour of Campbell's retirement. This award will be provided to one KPE graduate student per year, based on academic excellence. — JD

ssociate Professor Luc Tremblay will be stepping down as associate dean of research on June 30, having served in the role since January 2015.

Additionally, he set up KPE research alerts, a system of notifications to streamline news and announcements about grants, funding and awards.

During his tenure, Tremblay helped faculty members navigate the often complex and time-consuming process of applying for grants by launching a number of services to facilitate the procedure. Faculty members were able to receive timely feedback via a “Justin-Time” review process and prepare their Canadian Common CV, required by many funding sources, by using a web-based system that produces agencyspecific CV versions. These efforts have contributed to many successful applications to major grants, including four from the Canada Foundation for Innovation, which have provided critical research infrastructure and equipment for KPE research.

“I’d like to think the impact of these services has contributed to a high number of our faculty members successfully applying for valuable grants that will provide them with time and resources to continue and expand their research,” says Tremblay. “I’m also very proud that during my tenure as associate dean of research, Professor Catherine Sabiston was renewed as Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Mental Health, and many other faculty members got important recognitions and awards, including Dean Jacobs, who was inducted as Fellow of the Canadian Academy of Health Sciences.”

Also during Tremblay’s term, the KPE Research Office worked with U of T Libraries to assist faculty members in archiving their research manuscripts, so as to comply with both open-access policies and copyright policies of the journals publishing their work.

Tremblay will be taking an administrative leave of absence next year to focus on his research, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC). He is also looking forward to helping his current graduate students circumvent the research challenges of the pandemic. — JD

Professor Timothy Welsh has been appointed KPE interim associate dean of research. Welsh is the founder of U of T’s Centre for Motor Control and a respected scholar in the field of cognitive and neural motor behaviour. Photo/ Seed9

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Field Notes


Bruce Kidd, academic, athlete, activist, retires from U of T


ruce Kidd was an undergraduate student at U of T and a member of the track and field team when he was crowned champion of the Commonwealth Games and twice recognized as Canadian male athlete of the year, among other athletic accomplishments. But with honours came the realization that success comes with responsibilities.

“As I learned about how sports were organized, I realized that not everyone enjoyed the charmed life I did, and that women, Blacks, gays and many others faced open discrimination and vastly unequal opportunities,” he says.

“Bruce is truly a national and international icon, an athlete, teacher, academic leader, mentor and a fierce advocate for equity and diversity within our community,” says Ira Jacobs, professor and dean at KPE. “He has inspired generations of scholar-athletes with the gift of knowledge that their personal triumphs as athletes can be used to transform the world for the better. I’m so grateful and proud to call Bruce a colleague.” In 2004, Kidd received the Order of Canada for his efforts to eradicate sexism and racism in sport. In 2011, he became warden of Hart House and served as UTSC principal from 2014 to 2018, while continuing to supervise and advise graduate students at KPE.

That set him on a path of sport activism, working on the Olympic Project for Human Rights, the international campaign against apartheid sport, sport for development and “It was a joy to work on something I loved and felt important peace, and gender equity in sport – all while building a career with so many other bright and committed students and at U of T in sport studies. colleagues, in an environment where you were energized by the joy of physical activity experienced by participants every “I’ve been so lucky,” says Kidd, who got a master’s degree in day,” says Kidd. “As dean, whenever I was frustrated by the adult education and a master’s and a PhD in history before slow rate of change or some crisis or other, I would go down becoming a professor in the School of Physical and Health to the pool gallery and watch the divers and swimmers, or Education (SPHE). “As a faculty member and dean, I’ve learned head up to the field house to watch the runners, jumpers and from and worked with amazing students and colleagues.” pick-up ballers, and that was all I needed to assure me that it was all worth it.” It was Kidd’s determination to integrate the undergraduate academic program in SPHE, the graduate program in Kidd retires from the Faculty on June 30, but don’t expect exercise sciences in the Faculty of Medicine and the him to slow down. In September, his memoir is set to be co-curricular athletics and recreation programs that led to published, which will span the 70 years of his involvement the creation of what is now the Faculty of KPE. with sports, starting at age three. He also helped build numerous facilities, including the Athletic “As you can imagine, U of T features in almost every chapter,” Centre, Varsity Centre, Goldring Centre, Toronto Pan Am he says. — JD Sports Centre and the turfing of the Back Campus Fields.



Photo/ John Hryniuk

Field Notes


Peter Donnelly left his mark on every big policy debate


eter Donnelly was a physical education teacher in London, England in 1969 when he decided to hit the road. He got as far as New York City, where he got married and went to Hunter College to finish a bachelor's degree.

His leadership of the Centre over the last 22 years gave the Faculty influence in most of the important policy debates of the last two decades, according to Kidd, who calls Donnelly “a world leader, outstanding colleague and generous friend.”

He expected to go back into PE teaching when he finished the degree, but one of his undergrad professors, Sylvia Fishman, encouraged him to go to grad school.

“The opportunity to supervise and work with master’s and PhD students, and to watch so many of them go on to become leaders in the field in their own right has been a blessing,” says Donnelly. “The opportunity to work with a group of like-minded colleagues and friends has been a second blessing.

“My intent was just to get a master’s degree, but it was my good fortune to enter the new Sport Studies graduate program at the University of Massachusetts,” says Donnelly. “The research bug got me, and I went on to do a PhD.” Canada seemed like a great place to teach and research the sociology of sport in the 1970s. Donnelly taught at Western in the late 1970s, coached the soccer team and welcomed his twin daughters there with his wife.

“I loved the dynamism and the diversity of ideas and people of the campus. It felt like what I’d always thought a ‘real’ university should be. The pandemic has given me a preview of what I'll miss the most – that daily, face-to-face interaction.” As he prepares to retire at the end of June, Donnelly says he’s looking forward to seeing CSPS evolve under Associate Professor Simon Darnell.

In 1980, he secured a teaching position at McMaster University where he stayed for the next 18 years, was elected general secretary of the International Sociology of Sport Association “I hope that the Faculty will ‘build back better’ from the and became just the second editor of the Sociology of Sport pandemic by recognizing in even more significant ways how Journal. By then, his research had started to focus more on sport and physical activity are key factors in public health,” social inequality, particularly the ways that social class, race he says. and gender influenced opportunities to participate in sport and to hold sport leadership positions. In 2016, Donnelly launched GTActivity.ca, a citizen science project, a public archive and a celebration of the diversity of In 1998, he was invited by Professor Bruce Kidd to come to physical culture in the GTA – his gift and legacy to his U of T to help set up a new Centre for Sport Policy Studies (CSPS). adopted city. — JD Photo/ Joel Jackson

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Fit Tips


Why it's important and how to do it By Jelena Damjanovic


eniors trying to stay fit in the middle of a global pandemic face more than the usual challenges. Suddenly, spending time outdoors carries more risk than just losing your balance on the park trail. That’s why U of T’s Division of University Advancement invited Eric Williams, a faculty alum and former Varsity Blues, to facilitate a virtual workout for seniors looking for ways to stay active indoors.

Williams graduated with a Bachelor of Physical and Health Education (BPHE) in 2005 and earned a master’s of teaching from Ontario Institute for Studies in Education (OISE) in 2011. He is a certified personal trainer and strength and conditioning specialist, as well as a registered kinesiologist with Ontario. He is the founder of Continuum Sports Performance Consultants Ltd., providing clients with consulting, training and fitness programs.

Why is it important for seniors to keep active? We’ve always known that physical activity helps to maintain health and wellness but, in certain cases, it can also reverse trends associated with biological aging. As we get older, our metabolism begins to slow. The human body does not produce as much protein needed for muscle growth and development, and there is also a decline in bone density. As a result, we start to see a gradual change in our physical capabilities. We start to experience lingering pain and there are increased incidences of arthritis, joint inflammation or cardiovascular disease. To offset a lot of these ailments, we look to strength training, more specifically, resistance training, to slow the progression of muscle atrophy and loss of bone density.

What would a training session for seniors look like? Aging adults should begin their exercise programs with exercises that they feel comfortable with and in an environment that provides safety and familiarity. It is recommended that there be two to four physical activities or training sessions per week. These can range in complexity and duration, however the general standard for healthy populations is to engage in activity for about 45 minutes to an hour. The training sessions should incorporate full body exercises to increase heart rate, stimulate multiple muscle groups and increase vascular flow to multiple muscle areas.



The intensity of the exercises can be increased over time, but remember to build in time for recovery. Individuals should wait approximately 48 hours before beginning another bout of resistance training. But, in between, they can do aerobic exercises such as walking, jogging, biking and swimming to help reduce muscle soreness and to promote healthy cardiovascular fitness.

What can help someone stick to an exercise regimen? Finding a routine and making a plan to work out and do cardiovascular exercises with a higher frequency over duration is a good start. Reminding yourself why you’re doing it also helps. By staying active we increase circulation, range of motion of our joints and begin to improve our immune system from illness and disease. Increased movement and circulation improves cognitive health, which might reduce the likelihood and onset of Alzheimer’s and dementia. It also improves our mental health.

Any final words of wisdom? Remember that you need to be continuously active in order to maintain the gains you make. Sleeping for an average of seven to nine hours a night and engaging in meditation, breathing exercises and other stress reduction techniques can help the body to recover and provide necessary rest. Photos/ iStock

Fit Tips

What are some exercises seniors can practice indoors? Some exercises that can be performed safely from inside the home using just body weight or light resistance include:

Wall slides: Standing about one foot away from a wall surface, reach behind to touch the wall with your hands and slowly lower yourself into a seated position against the wall. Go as low as you can without exceeding 90 degrees.

Push-ups: Can be done on the ground with the arms underneath the shoulders. Modifications can be made where the individual can have their knees on the ground, keeping the back flat. If going down to the ground is limited, push-ups can be done off of a wall or inclined surface.

Lateral step-walks: Keeping the knees bent, holding the core tight and the head and spine in a neutral, straight position, step to one side. Step back into place. Repeat by stepping to the other side and back into place again.

Side-lying leg lifts: Lay on your side with one arm extended on the ground. Rest your head on the outstretched arm. Raise one leg into the air and perform small circles for 30 to 45 seconds. Switch to the other side.

Alternating lunges: Start in a standing position with arms by your side. Step forward with one leg. As you do so, raise your arms up into the air. Step back into place again and bring the arms down to your side. Repeat with the other leg.

Chair squats: Similar to the wall squats, except sit down with control into a chair and stand back up again. Try not to let your core and body collapse into the chair as you sit down. Instead, count to three as you sit down to slow the movement.

Balancing: Standing on one foot, slowly reach forward to a wall or arm of a couch. Slowly stand back up again into an upright position and repeat. Continue on the same leg for 12-15 repetitions and then switch.

Thera-band pulls: Standing upright, hold a resistance band across the chest and extend the arms outward, working the chest and shoulders.

Bird dogs: Kneeling down on all fours, slowly extend one arm forward while extending the opposite leg behind. Slowly bring both the arm and the leg back into the original starting position without having them touch the ground. Pursuit | Summer 2021


Blues News

TRIPLE JUMPS AND CHICKEN COOPS Varsity Blues athlete Brenna Hamel stays sharp during COVID-19



Photos/ Courtesy of Brenna Hamel

“I work with what I have on the acreage. I got creative by creating a squat bar out of PVC pipe, hooks and weighted backpacks.” To say that Brenna Hamel’s everyday life was changed by the COVID-19 pandemic would be an understatement. The fourth-year Rotman Commerce public accounting specialist was working for a technology-consulting firm in Singapore through U of T’s international exchange program when the University recalled all exchange students in response to Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s plea for all Canadian citizens to return home in March 2020. Hamel wasted no time and was on a flight to her hometown of Shellbrook, Saskatchewan, 140 km north of Saskatoon, within 48 hours of the announcement. “I was quite sad,” said Hamel. “I really enjoyed my life in Singapore and was not ready for it to end. I left because I believed my travel insurance, issued through U of T, would be voided by the cancellation of the exchange.” That’s when her life flipped upside down. Hamel went from working amongst Singapore’s booming business environment and population of 5.6 million people to life on her parent’s recreational farm. “We raise chickens and turkeys for means of personal consumption and we raise other birds recreationally, such as peacocks, guinea fowl and silkies. We also recreationally raise rabbits.” She quickly established a routine to keep herself on track – pun intended. “In order to maintain the full-time work I set up a strict daily schedule,” said Hamel. “I worked 8 a.m. to 4 p.m., made supper and spent at least one hour per day weeding or doing some short chore. Afterwards I would train.”

And train she did. The triple jumper, who finished fourth overall at the 2019 OUA championships, had to get creative to keep up with the Varsity Blues program. “The track in Shellbrook is dirt so I have to drive 40 km to get to a real track. This is not always feasible, but I go when I can. On those days, I get my spikes on and do my speed work. Otherwise, I work with what I have on the acreage. During the winter months, I got creative by creating a squat bar out of PVC pipe, hooks and weighted backpacks. We have a treadmill to get some running in and I use the stairs for plyo[metric exercises].” Once the spring and summer months came around, Hamel’s chores took over. “Spring and summer are very busy. We do lots of weeding, rototilling, cleaning of chicken coops, cutting grass and any miscellaneous projects that are going on. For example, we are re-treeing our lot right now. We are also laying gravel paths so we are separating dirt from rocks with a sifting machine. We have also done trenching to lay water hoses underground to feed the gardens and set up automatic watering systems for the birds and gardens.” Varsity Blues head coach Carl Georgevski was nothing short of amazed when he found out what Brenna’s everyday life entailed. “In my 40 plus years of coaching, this is a first,” joked Georgevski. “Brenna couldn’t make it to a team meeting because she was cleaning chicken coops.” Hamel graduated from U of T in the fall of 2020.

— Jill Clark

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Blues News

FACES OF CHANGE From left to right – Mahal De La Durantaye, Avery Garrett-Patterson, AJ Bimm, Sarah Kwajafa, Somachi Agbapu



ollowing a global uprising against anti-Black racism, Varsity Blues student-athletes and alumni formed the Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Varsity Association (BVA). Less than a year after its creation, the BVA is already making change at the U of T and across Ontario University Athletics (OUA).

“It’s been absolutely incredible to see the work that’s been done,” says Sarah Kwajafa, a U SPORTS track and field medalist who was a BVA alumna advisor in 2020-21. “This started with conversations at the height of the Black Lives Matter (BLM) movement, and progressed into 20 large goals for the BVA.” One key task is working with KPE Assistant Professor Janelle Joseph and the OUA’s Black, Biracial and Indigenous (BBI) task force on narrowing structural gaps that hinder better representation.

“When you embed a group like BVA within the governance structures of the university, you are acknowledging the importance of the work they are doing,” Ali says. “It’s not a check-box action, it is a commitment to making long-term transformational change, with those voices within the structure.” One way to keep the momentum going has been to create paid work-study positions for students involved in the work of the association. Devon Bowyer, the outgoing chair of the BVA, successfully advocated for the BVA to have five such positions within the Faculty, providing students with opportunities to gain experience and skills they’ll also be able to use postuniversity to influence change. In his role as chair, Bowyer says he’s made more presentations about the BVA to other OUA schools in a span of a month than he has in the entirety of his master’s program.

“When the BVA started coming together, we wanted to get a sense “If we talk to a school on a Monday, they’re usually asking of what racial representation looks like at U of T,” says track and us to talk to their hockey team or their soccer team on field athlete AJ Bimm, the BVA’s 2020-21 head of funding and Wednesday,” the former men’s soccer captain says. resources. “We quickly realized that this information does not exist, beyond pictures of student-athletes on the website. Building mentorship programs for BIPOC student-athletes – at all stages of the game, from admissions to post-grad – is “This project with Professor Joseph and the OUA will collect another one of the BVA’s goals. demographic data, as well as stories about individual experiences of BIPOC student athletes. That information “Having just one person to connect with as a BIPOC student is a can hopefully be leveraged to create a better environment for win in itself,” Kwajafa says. “Having an association has provided everyone in the OUA.” us with the structure and frame of reference to start building these kinds of programs and networks of support with more For Beth Ali, executive director of athletics and physical intention and already we can see the results.” — Nathan Sager activity at U of T, the formation of the BVA is an opportunity to create more accountability on equity issues.



Photo/ Nick Alessi

Blues News


Legendary hockey coach Tom Watt is one of seven individuals who will be inducted into the Ontario Sports Hall of Fame in 2021


n 15 seasons with the Varsity Blues (1965-79, 1984-85), Watt guided the University of Toronto to 11 OUAA provincial titles and nine CIAU national championships, including eight consecutive OUAA titles (1966-73) and five straight CIAU championships (1969-73). His overall U of T record is 410 wins, 35 ties, and 106 losses. In 1971, he was the first recipient of the CIAU men’s hockey coach of the year award.

After his time at U of T, Watt became the head coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1990. His NHL coaching career also includes stints as an assistant coach with the Calgary Flames (1987–90, Stanley Cup champions in 1989), head coach and assistant general manager of the Vancouver Canucks (1985–87), and head coach of the Winnipeg Jets (1981–84), where he earned NHL coach of the year honours for the 1981–82 season.

Watt also served as an assistant coach to the Varsity Blues football team from 1965-71, all while teaching as an assistant professor in the School of Physical and Health Education. As a student-athlete, he played on the Blues championship teams in intermediate football (1957) and senior hockey (1957-59).

He got his international start with the Blues, guiding Team Canada to a bronze-medal finish at the 1968 World Student Games. In addition, he coached at the 1980 and 1988 Olympic Games, the 1983, 1987 and 1991 Canada Cups, as well as the 1988 World Championships.

“We’re proud to see Tom recognized in this way,” said Beth Ali, executive director of athletics and physical activity at U of T. “As coach and instructor, Tom left an indelible impact on student-athletes, who not only benefited from his experience and knowledge, but also got to enjoy his unique sense of humour.”

Watt was inducted into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame in 1991.

Photos/ Courtesy of the Varsity Blues

The 2021 Ontario Sports Hall of Fame awards gala will be held on October 13, 2021. — JC Pursuit | Summer 2021


Blues News

Members of the University of Toronto women’s basketball team dribble during one of their few on-court practices this season.




ith games halted due to COVID-19, the women’s Varsity Blues basketball team has been practicing mostly online since Thanksgiving with head coach and two-time Olympian Tamara Tatham.

In an interview with CBC Sports in January, Tatham explained how she’s looking out for her players’ mental health while also helping them maintain their fitness. It’s been an on-and-off season for the University of Toronto women’s basketball team.


“It’s been a tough time, obviously not being on the court as much, really trying to make your team essentially become a team – not necessarily on the court. That’s been tough. But there are a lot of things that you can do off the court, [where] I find there are opportunities to really make themselves better not just as a basketball player, but as a person,” said Tatham. Tatham took over the role of head coach on July 1 after the retirement of Michele Belanger, who spent 41 seasons guiding the Varsity Blues.

Players were on the court in September practicing mostly in groups of five – with the exception of one full team practice – until Thanksgiving, when lockdown in Ontario forced them off.

But Tatham has yet to call a timeout or set a starting lineup. She retired as a player in 2017 before becoming an assistant on Belanger’s bench. In September, the 35-year-old brought on Rio Olympic teammate and current national team player Miah-Marie Langlois, 29, to the staff.

“Practices” from home lasted four more weeks until the team was cleared to return to the court for another seven days. That’s when the latest provincial lockdown took effect, forcing the team back off the court.

One month later, U SPORTS announced all winter championships, including women’s basketball, would be called off due to the pandemic. The team has not and will not play a single game.

Now, as COVID-19 cases surge across the province, and specifically in Toronto, a return to the hardwood is nowhere in sight.

“We’re just making sure they’re still staying connected somehow. We did a lot during the summer, but we kind of dialed it down since the school year started because they’re in school 24/7 online,” said Tatham.


Photos/ Jimmy Wang

Blues News



The team is meeting regularly over Zoom, though basketball is often not the main focus. Instead, Tatham and Langlois choose to zero in on social activities.

Tatham said the biggest thing she learned about coaching was how it can be like a CEO’s role, with the need to marry all the non-basketball stuff with on-court activity.

“It’s really important to not get on the girls or expect a lot But that hasn’t stopped the head coach from watching the from them when they’re going through a bigger problem NBA – specifically Nick Nurse’s Toronto Raptors and Erik than being denied just basketball. We still have to worry Spoelstra’s Miami Heat – to pick up new strategies every about them, especially their mental health. So we’re just single night. trying to be very conscious about everyone’s screen time and just try to support the girls as much as we can to get through “The way they manage, not necessarily whether they manage this,” said Langlois. timeouts, it’s more so what they’re doing at the timeout, why they’re taking timeouts … And just some of the way There’s been sessions built for the players to just get to know that they’re running different offences, how is it slowing? each other. Another meeting had a Christmas theme, and What’s your transition look like? What does your defensive a pair of Zoom workout calls even had 80s and Halloween transition like?” dress codes. Three times a week, the strength and conditioning coach sends out a program and the players lift together over video. Langlois managed to put together a ball-handling session when it was warmer out, too. “Basketball is a team sport. I think girls like [that part of] sports, the whole connection and bonding. So we want to keep that aspect of basketball in it and try to use the same sessions to allow the girls to connect with each other, even if they can’t physically,” said Langlois. Tatham and Langlois said it’s still been tough for the players riding the roller coaster of the non-existent season. “But it’s also been a bit of a blessing because you’re getting to realize what basketball is and how important it is to you personally,” said Tatham. The pandemic hasn’t eased the new coaches’ transition to the bench either. There are no game plans to prepare, no rotations to manage, no progression to see over the eightmonth season. Instead, the lack of competition has helped Tatham and Langlois learn the behind-the-scenes of coaching, like recruiting, fundraising and off-court team-building.

Langlois, still more used to being coached as opposed to coaching, relished the opportunity to improve her relationships with players, like knowing when to push and when to hold back. Seven months out of the Tokyo Olympics, Langlois also has her playing career to worry about. She’s currently rehabbing a sciatic nerve injury with an eye on full recovery for July, though that process is made even harder with gyms shut down. But the task at hand remains the Varsity Blues. While Zoom practices are fine, everyone is itching to get back on the court. “We get told a date and then it comes near and then it gets pushed back again. So we are not in the know just like everyone else,” said Langlois. — Miles Dichter, CBC Sports Pursuit | Summer 2021


Blues News



ince a young age, Varsity Blues rugby veteran Idara Okon has wanted to help people in whatever way she can – to leave them feeling better than when she met them. Now majoring in health and disease while pursuing a double minor in psychology and physiology, Okon is on a clear course to a medical career. While her end goal has always been the same, her path to success got off to a shaky start.

“My biggest obstacle came in my first year at U of T,” says Okon, who hails from Lagos, Nigeria. “I dealt with imposter syndrome and I just felt disconnected from everything and everyone. I was homesick a lot of the time.” But after Okon returned home to Lagos at the end of her first year in Toronto the tide began to turn.

year, and was recently elected president of SMCSU for the 2021-22 school year. She is also an event coordinator for the Nigerian Students Association and volunteers for CeSAHA, an organization that aims to improve access to health care in Africa. When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Okon returned home to Lagos, where she, her parents and three younger sisters were all working and studying from home. While living in one time zone and studying in another definitely provided its challenges, Okon was grateful for the time she got to spend with family.

“It was hard at first but there were also lots of good times,” she says. “My sisters and I spent more time together. Sometimes “That summer I went back to a hospital in Nigeria for an internship we’d swim in our pool, play a bit of basketball or go on walks and reminded myself of where I wanted to be,” she explains. “After in the evening; we even went through a baking phase.” the internship and the time with family, I was ready to put myself out there in second year. I joined rugby, became more involved Now that the University has announced its goals to return to with my college, joined study groups, spoke to professors and campus in the fall, Okon is setting her sights on the future. participated in more activities on campus.” “My dream is to go to medical school and further specialize In her first season with the Varsity Blues, Okon was named an to become a general surgeon,” she says. “It won’t be easy, but OUA all-star and earned U SPORTS academic all-Canadian it’s a journey that I’ve begun and intend to finish no matter honours. She served as vice-president of athletics for the what.” — JC St. Michael’s College Student Union (SMCSU) this past



Photos/ Courtesy of the Varsity Blues

Blues News




or Rassam Yazdi there have always been two constants in life: tennis and aviation. The second-year Varsity Blues tennis player and aerospace engineering student developed an interest for both at a young age.

Competing since the age of nine, Yazdi has won over 40 different tournaments in his career. As a junior, he played tennis at the national level, participating in several tournaments including the Ace Tennis U18 Canadian world ranking Yazdi building the event in 2017 in Burlington, where matboard for his he finished in ninth place. structures class. “Competing at the high level is ultimately why I give 110 per cent when I’m on the court,” he said. Yazdi brings that passion for tennis to the Varsity Blues team. One of his favourite memories is from last year’s finals against Western University. Yazdi played his best matches during the tournament, dominating both his single and doubles matches. Although the team finished second, Yazdi was proud of his performance during his rookie season. “That day capped off an OUA tournament where I finished undefeated, which was also really satisfying considering the stiff competition we faced,” he said. “Representing U of T at high-profile tournaments and winning is an amazing feeling, especially when it is against historical rivals.” Like tennis, Yazdi’s affinity for aviation was shaped at a young age. Photos/ Top/Seyran Mammadov / Bottom/Courtesy of Rassam Yazdi

“It amazed me how such heavy equipment could lift off the ground and fly so gracefully,” he said. “It was shocking to me how planes possess such an artistic beauty in their design, while being such functional machines, which is quite different when compared to other engineering marvels.” Originally, Yazdi wanted to become a fighter pilot; however, this all changed in high school. “I developed a special affinity towards science and mathematics,” he said. “So engineering appealed to me as the perfect culmination and application of the two fields. Pairing my interest in aviation and engineering as a discipline, the field of aeronautics was a straightforward choice for me.” Engineering science, like varsity sports, is a demanding field, but Yazdi enjoys the sense of community that both bring. When competitions were cancelled due to COVID-19, he was gutted. “I realized that I would not get to compete with my teammates for another full year and, in the worst case, never again as some of them will be graduating at the end of the year,” he said. “It is tough to simulate tournaments and competition, but I have been doing all I can to work on my game for the return to competition.” — Sylvia Lorico Pursuit | Summer 2021


MAN WITH A PLAN Dean Ira Jacobs leaves a legacy of building capacity and driving change By Jelena Damjanovic


couple of days after starting as dean of the Faculty in July of 2010, Ira Jacobs was outside walking, while on a break. He made a special point to walk to Ross Street, not far from his new office at the University of Toronto. His father was born and raised on that street and he was the first in his family to go to university, graduating from the U of T pharmacy program. Jacobs called his dad from the street.

“I told him this was a special call because it was the first time I was speaking to him as a dean at his alma mater,” says Jacobs. “His response was that he now knows how his parents must have felt when he graduated from U of T and that he couldn’t imagine feeling any prouder. He died a week later, but knowledge of his pride has carried me through some challenging times over the last decade.” A decade is how long Jacobs has been at the helm of the Faculty, having been reappointed for the role of dean in 2016. A lot has happened within that time, much of it fueled by the development of the Faculty’s Academic Plan, aptly called “Creating Capacity, Cultivating Change.” The plan revolved around four major goals: to educate and graduate a diverse student body who will go on to become leaders in their fields; to strengthen recognition of the Faculty



and increase productivity in research and innovation; to improve participation rates and performance outcomes across the broad spectrum of sport and recreation programs operated by the Faculty; and to build new capacity through investments in infrastructure, people and partnerships. “I have held leadership positions in many organizations in government, industry and academia,” says Jacobs, who was chair of York University's School of Kinesiology and Health Science and worked as a federal government scientist before assuming the role of dean of KPE. “In each of those positions I had the opportunity to lead the development and implementation of strategic plans. But, being a dean at U of T has been exceptional in that regard because it’s the first time that I have also been directly responsible for the ultimate decisions about allocation of resources to priorities. It has been very gratifying to watch that allocation give life to our plans and propel the Faculty towards our collective vision of achieving international recognition for our excellence in research, teaching and practice, and for inspiring our University community and nation to achieve higher levels of engagement in healthy physical activity and sports.”

Photo/ Seed9

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Meric Gertler, president of U of T, says that Jacobs deserves to be pleased as he looks back on his record as dean.

Research funding increased from $0.434 million in 2011 to $2.3 million in 2020.

“One of the distinguishing features of our Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education is its commitment to integrating teaching and research with our rich array of co-curricular programming. Ira has embodied this integrated approach with personal conviction and dedication. He has led the sustained enhancement of the Faculty’s research profile and teaching excellence. And he has been a passionate champion of Varsity and intramural sports and recreation programs. It has been such a pleasure to co-host with him our annual lunch reception for Varsity athletes, all of whom embody the same remarkable ability to combine elite performance and academic excellence.

The Faculty was able to appoint its first Canada Research Chair in Physical Activity and Mental Health and launched a number of new extra-departmental research units. The Master of Professional Kinesiology Program was launched, the first master’s-level program of its kind in Ontario. Participation numbers in the Faculty’s sports and physical activity programs increased dramatically. On an annual basis more than 12,500 students now participate in intramurals; 840 compete in intercollegiate sport as Varsity Blues student-athletes, winning national and provincial

“Ira leaves a lasting imprint on KPE and U of T of which he can be extremely proud.” — Meric Gertler “Ira leaves a lasting imprint on KPE and U of T of which he can be extremely proud,” Gertler concludes. The implementation of the Faculty’s plans involved a name change to the Faculty to better reflect the evolution of the academic discipline of kinesiology, followed by the introduction of a new organizational structure that saw the creation of the Faculty’s first vice-dean of academic affairs, a dedicated associate dean of research and an executive director of athletics and physical activity. Between 2011 and 2019, student enrolment increased by 40 per cent for undergraduate students and 195 per cent for graduate students. More top scholars were hired to reinforce the Faculty’s commitment to interdisciplinary kinesiology research and teaching and learning.



championships and representing Canada in international competitions; and tens of thousands participate in other organized and drop-in fitness and physical activity programs. The Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport was built, a symbol of the Faculty’s integrated mandate for academics and co-curricular programs, housing under one roof both state-ofthe-art sport and recreation facilities and research labs. The list of accomplishments does not exhaust itself here. In fact, it has kept growing over the decade, along with the Faculty’s reputation. Over the last three years, the QS World University Rankings by Subject has placed U of T in the top five universities in the world for sports-related subjects like kinesiology, exercise science and physical education. Photos/ KPE archives

“These rankings demonstrate the growing global relevance of kinesiology,” says Jacobs. “I am so proud to see our Faculty and U of T ranked so highly each year, but not surprised, given the quality of our professors, their research and teaching, and the caliber of students who choose to study here.” Cheryl Regehr, vice-president and provost at U of T, says that over the course of his two terms as dean of KPE, “Professor Jacobs made a tremendous impact. He has been an exceptional leader to the Faculty, propelling it to recognition as one of the world’s top schools for kinesiology, exercise science and sports-related subjects, and raising its research profile.

As dean of KPE, he is leaving behind a Faculty commitment to diversity, equity and inclusion across all strategic goals – a commitment he inherited from leadership past and one he is confident will be carried on by future leadership. The creation of the KPE task force on race and Indigeneity and the subsequent report released by its members was a tremendously important milestone in the history of KPE, according to Jacobs. “Their recommendations have illustrated both the challenges and opportunities presented to KPE,” he says. “Our world continues to experience turmoil as a result of inequities and intolerance, yet I’m very hopeful about the

“Professor Jacobs has been an exceptional leader to the Faculty, propelling it to recognition as one of the world’s top schools for kinesiology, exercise science and sports-related subjects.” — Cheryl Regehr “He has been a tireless advocate for the development of community partnerships that have enriched both teaching and research at the Faculty. Professor Jacobs leaves a lasting legacy at KPE and has fostered a culture of excellence and innovation that will benefit us well into the future,” says Regehr. Jacobs is looking forward to the future, when he can just be a “normal” professor. “I’ve never had that experience and it looks like a very good gig from where I’ve been sitting for the last decade or so,” says Jacobs, who earned his doctorate in clinical physiology from Sweden’s Karolinska Institute and spent the next 25 years doing extensive exercise physiology research in Canada’s human sciences laboratory, operated by the Department of National Defence, before transitioning to academia.

future knowing the important role our Faculty has and will continue to play in contributing to a healthy, active, caring and engaged society. “Our students, faculty and staff have made so many exemplary achievements over the years in leadership, academics, sports and recreation, and I’ve relished every opportunity to recognize and congratulate them.” None more gratifying, he says, than attending convocation ceremonies and seeing the faces of graduating students beaming with pride and relief, while their families and friends look on happily. This is something he plans to continue doing as professor at the Faculty. But for now, he’s looking forward to experiencing Sundays that are somewhat less stressful in anticipation and planning for the remainder of the week. Pursuit | Summer 2021




By Paul Fraumeni



Field Notes

In March 2020, as the COVID-19 pandemic was beginning

to smother global society, senior administrators, faculty and staff at U of T’s Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) did what was immediately vital – find a way to get classes and exams online so students could complete their academic year. “We had only three days to get our classes online,” says Professor Ashley Stirling, vice-dean, academic affairs. But in that regard, KPE was already a step ahead. “It was actually two years ago that we decided, as part of our strategic planning process, that we wanted to incorporate more technology in the classroom,” says Stirling. “We knew that long-term it would be important to use more flexible modes of teaching, such as hybrid or online courses. Our goal then was to develop two courses per year.” With the infrastructure and expertise for online course development already in place, the Faculty was able to move quickly to address the urgent need brought on by the first provincial lockdown and the closure of the University’s campuses. “Yes, we had to flip a switch to get courses online, but because we already had the expertise in-house, we were able to focus our efforts on creative approaches to maintain the quality of the KPE student experience, aligned with principles of inclusivity, academic excellence and overall student wellness.” Staff and faculty came together to develop new courses, approaches and student opportunities despite the tight timelines, ensuring consideration of key elements that Stirling says are core to a “holistic student experience.” “The quality of academic programs and the associated learning outcomes are essential, but they don’t represent the full learning environment. Students also learn and develop through social engagement with peers, instructors and the broader community. And that social aspect of University is just as important.” That is why KPE launched KINections in September of 2020. The program, an initiative of the Registrar’s Office, helps students connect with each other beyond the classroom. It presents carefully selected remote and on-campus activities that support wellness and foster a sense of community among students and faculty. Even with a launch in the middle of a pandemic, the program has been an immediate hit, involving more than 300 students, as well as faculty and staff.

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Stirling notes continued focus on refining the holistic student experience will remain a priority as KPE moves through and out of the pandemic. “We are already thinking about how we can apply what we’ve learned this year to our planning and programs across all areas – from timetables and tutorials, to how we envision future student spaces,” she says. Part of the Faculty’s student experience is its extensive experiential learning program, which creates placements for both undergraduate and graduate students in professional settings. “The KPE experience is uniquely multidisciplinary, ranging from human anatomy to human rights, from cells to society,” says Stirling. “Our alumni go to work in a multitude of professions. So it’s important that they are able to experience their possible future careers while they are studying. Students love this part of our program.”

“We are already thinking about how we can apply what we’ve learned this year to our planning and programs across all areas – from timetables and tutorials, to how we envision future student spaces.” — Ashley Stirling The Faculty has more than 150 agreements with a variety of organizations and institutions in health care, education, health promotion, sport and recreation, and research and innovation. “Despite the lockdowns, we had a tremendous response from our partners,” notes KPE Dean Ira Jacobs. “We found mentors who were still able to work with students. Most of it was online but some was in-person, primarily in the health care sector. It was gratifying to be able to continue this important career learning component.” But as academic classes transitioned to the new normal, the lockdowns necessitated by the pandemic created serious challenges for KPE’s two other key pillars. One has been the research program. The Faculty’s 36 researchers investigate a diversity of real-world topics, such as critical studies of race, illness and suffering, sport concussion, exercise physiology, clinical cardiovascular health, physical activity and mental health. And while some of the work has been able to be done online, much requires in-person investigation.



“Some researchers were able to use online platforms and open-sourced software to record basic human movements from afar while participants performed testing and training sessions at home.” — Luc Tremblay

“The lockdowns of research facilities have been necessary but also devastating for some graduate students and professors,” says Jacobs, who will become a full-time researcher (his specialty is exercise physiology) and professor when his two terms as dean finish this summer. “That is because of the need for specialized labs, facilities and equipment for monitoring. Some of our research is tactile and involves being able to monitor people up close or involves physical contact, be it manipulation of joints or muscles or experiencing human movement. That all had to be frozen.” Still, there are lessons to be found in the work that was able to continue using online technology, says Professor Luc Tremblay, associate dean of research. “Many of our researchers need to interview people to gather essential information. We were able to move all of that to online platforms. That has worked out well and I can see us continuing this method after the pandemic has ended.” Tremblay, who focuses his own research on sensorimotor control, says another positive step was how some researchers were able to use online platforms and open-sourced software to record basic human movements from afar while participants performed testing and training sessions at home. An additional benefit of some remote research has been the ability of researchers to recruit more participants than usual. At the same time, the adoption of sophisticated biosafety technology allowed other researchers to conduct some testing in-person, such as monitoring a participant’s breathing during an exercise intervention. And then, there was the challenge of adapting the very busy – and high profile – KPE sports and fitness pillar to the new reality. For a wide-ranging program that is founded on in-person activity and events, the rounds of lockdowns were a brutal hit.

Pursuit | Summer 2021


“Whatever we were able to offer online, we did. I give full credit to our staff who continue to do an excellent job of adapting a lot of our programming by moving it online, and to the students who not only gave it a chance, but have found a new Sport and Rec community online.” — Beth Ali “It has not been a very good year in our area. For anybody,” says Beth Ali, executive director, co-curricular athletics and physical activity programs. The range of people who enjoy fitness and sports via hundreds of programs and teams operated by KPE is astounding. “We’re a big part of what goes on at the University. Our mission is to promote and enable a lifetime of personal health, both physically and mentally. We provide a sense of belonging, a place where students and the community come together – from students taking a break from their studies to the kids who take Saturday morning swim classes and athletes training for the Olympics.” And Ali says all this activity is an important contributor to the overall wellness of students, not just those in the physical activity and recreation programs, but in the varsity programs, too. Extended lockdowns and building closures forced the cancellation of most in-person Sport and Recreation programs this past year – which also resulted in dozens of temporary layoffs – the people who staff the strength and conditioning centres, operate the facilities, ensure the nets and scoreboards are in working order for students, that the pool is at right temperature and a myriad of other essential duties. “I’ve never had to do that before. We feel terrible about having to take that measure,” says Ali. Technology did, however, enable some programs to continue and students were able to receive treatment for sport-related injuries remotely, from the physicians and therapists at the David L. McIntosh sports clinic. “Whatever we were able to offer online, we did. I give full credit to our staff who continue to do an excellent job of adapting a lot of our programming by moving it online, and to the students who not only gave it a chance, but have found a new Sport and Rec community online.” A virtual fitness studio, providing a diverse range of programs for students with varying experience, interests and abilities, was launched in the Fall and varsity athletes were able to continue training online with their coaches and teammates. And, some good news – the online programming has turned out to be a hit.



“A lot of our students love it and want it to continue. Commuter students, students who are parents and those who have really busy schedules and have trouble getting to our facilities really appreciate having these sessions online. Once we create a class, we put it into a virtual library and it’s available whenever the user wants it.” Ali has also had other pleasant surprises. Student engagement in governance has actually become stronger. “Students have joined various committees and they’ve done significant work outside of the meetings. It’s just amazing. They’ve enjoyed working with

“It’s interesting how in this strange time, when I thought maybe they wouldn’t be as engaged, students were more engaged than ever.” — Beth Ali

the staff and with each other. It’s interesting how in this strange time, when I thought maybe they wouldn’t be as engaged, they were more engaged than ever.” And she has been equally enthused with the support of KPE alumni. “It’s been a challenge financially. We have lost revenue we would normally make by renting out our facilities for sports events, or through community memberships. And the economic fallout from the pandemic has understandably reduced donations. But the online engagement and support of our alumni has been incredible. We are so thankful for this.” Vaccines are being administered, but the pandemic – and our understanding of its global impact – is, of course, not over yet. Still, KPE leaders are beginning to see some light. And they are deeply thankful for the creativity, flexibility and commitment of a wide range of people. Dean Jacobs is particularly impressed with the spirit showed by the KPE community. “It truly was a year in which we found the possible amid what seemed impossible,” says Jacobs. “We have learned that there can be effective teaching and learning experiences online. And we’ve learned we’re resilient. We’re agile. I’ve been tremendously proud to be a part of an organization with colleagues and students who have been so courageous at adapting as effectively as I think we have.” Now, the wait for normalcy continues, or whatever normalcy may look like in the new post-COVID context. When will the vaccines result in the sacred herd immunity that will allow life to return to the University campus? Time will tell. But the people of KPE, with a year of learning and adapting under their belt, are ready for whatever comes along.

Pursuit | Summer 2021



KPE alumna leads fundraising efforts for Kids Help Phone during COVID-19

By Jelena Damjanovic



Photo/ Christian Erfurt

“The state of youth mental health could be categorized as a crisis before the pandemic.” — Jenny Yuen


arly on in the pandemic, when schools across Canada were being temporarily closed to help contain the spread of COVID-19, Kids Help Phone saw a 107 per cent increase in service demand within days of the closures. One year later, the elevated demand has persisted.

According to Jenny Yuen, vice-president of national partnerships and chief community officer at Kids Help Phone, Canada’s only 24/7 bilingual e-mental health service for young people, 4.6 million connections were made with young people over the last year through phone, text, live chat and self-directed sessions. That's compared to 1.9 million in 2019 – a staggering 137 per cent increase. In addition, 4,200 active suicide rescues were conducted for youth in imminent danger or harm to themselves. “The state of youth mental health could be categorized as a crisis before the pandemic,” says Yuen, who graduated from the University of Toronto in 2000 with a degree in physical education and health. “COVID-19 has further amplified it and we are even more worried about young people now as we look into the future. “We’re seeing a whole spectrum of complex issues emerge over time. In the first week of school closures, the calls were mostly about feeling lonely and missing friends at school. The second week was about peer and family relationships. A year later, these issues continue to be at the forefront with the highest number of calls having to do with anxiety/stress, suicide/self-harm and isolation.” With 30 per cent of the charity’s revenue planned from fundraising events that had to be cancelled due to COVID-19, Yuen had to think fast on her feet to fill the sudden deficit without interrupting any of the services. At the same time, the increased demand for counselling meant having to recruit and train more crisis responders and counsellors quickly. And there was also the challenge of helping over 200 workers transition to working from home. Yuen says she drew on the lessons learned in her undergraduate degree to overcome these obstacles. “People often ask how my degree in physical education

and health comes in handy in fundraising and I tell them my biggest takeaway, aside from learning all about anatomy and physiology, was learning about organizational behaviour and sport psychology. As an executive, my role is very similar to that of a coach, especially in the last year, when we needed to be really nimble to respond to record demand.” Yuen and her team worked with partners and donors to get emergency funding to cover the looming deficit and to spread the word that more crisis responders and counsellors were needed on the frontline. “We doubled the number of crisis responders last year. We now have more than 4,000 trained crisis responders ready to take a conversation on our platform,” she says. Yuen’s passion hasn’t always been working in fundraising or with youth. After getting her undergraduate degree, she wanted to work with seniors and even got a gerontology diploma from Woodsworth College. But, she started working for the Yee Hong Community Wellness Foundation and discovered she really enjoyed getting partners excited about investing in worthy causes. She joined Kids Help Phone 16 years ago and never looked back. “Everyone has a mental health story, either their own or that of someone else,” she says. “If there’s anything we can do along that continuum to help, I want to be involved. I believe that you can start to build a lot of these help-seeking behaviours and remove the stigma of reaching out for support at a young age. Now more than ever, this mission is so important to me.” Yuen says that while people might gasp after hearing the service volumes have more than doubled during the pandemic, there is a silver lining. “Kids Help Phone is a safe space,” she says. “The fact that youth are reaching out and connecting with us in moments of crisis or need is critical. Our goal is to work with them to develop a plan to get them through the moment, one moment at a time. From their testimonials, we are able to see that many feel less overwhelmed and more able to cope after connecting with our service. We will always be here.” Pursuit | Summer 2021



First scholarship of its kind to support Black student-athletes By Janet Gunn



Photo/ Keith Cyphus Courtesy of Michael Yat

Alumni Updates

“It would be a shame for any student-athlete to give up an opportunity to go to school and play sports because of financial constraints.”


ormer Varsity athlete Michael Yat is establishing the first scholarship of its kind within the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education to support Black student soccer athletes. It’s his way of giving back to a varsity program that gave him so much. “My hope is this scholarship will help varsity students have the same rewarding experience I did playing competitive soccer through school, without the financial stress.” Yat’s donation will create the Yat Family Student Athlete Award for two recipients each year, with the first to be awarded in September 2021. The scholarship will be given to one male and one female in varsity soccer based on academic merit and financial need. A preference will be given to Black students. “In my first two years at the University of Toronto, I was training with the varsity soccer team, travelling for games, and maintaining a full course load, all while working nights,” says Yat. “It was a grind. I was sleeping any chance I could get, but it was worth it to study, play soccer and finish school debt free.” Yat says he realized he needed to work when his parents made a long-term decision to change career paths that impacted the

Photo/ Jing Ling Kao-Beserve

family income during that time. “I have two younger brothers who also had aspirations to go to school, so I knew I needed to do my part,” he says. “It would be a shame for any student athlete to give up an opportunity to go to school and play sports because of financial constraints.” Today Yat is a successful real estate broker, investor and new dad. He remembers moving to Ottawa from Nigeria when he was eight years old, then making the move to Toronto five years later. Yat says when he came to Toronto, he began to see more Black families facing financial hardships. “I’ve always had the idea in the back of my mind to do something impactful for the Black community,” says Yat. “Over the past year, I had some time to reflect and was inspired by the Black Lives Matter movement and so I decided to act.” Now Yat says it feels wonderful to give others the opportunity to do what he did in his four years at the University of Toronto. “Varsity sports has given me focus, discipline and experience in interacting with people of different nationalities,” he says. “We came together for a common goal and made it work as a national winning team. Now I am proud to give other students like me the same opportunity.” Pursuit | Summer 2021


Alumni Updates


Alum mentors students considering career options By Jelena Damjanovic



Photo/ courtesy of Gerome Manson

Alumni Updates

“I have met many lifelong friends here throughout my years of undergrad and graduate study. The experience definitely helped prepare me for my future career.”


erome Manson was born in Trinidad and Tobago and moved to the west end of Toronto with his family when he was eight years old.

“I was very interested in sport as a child and teen, and became more interested in physical activity pedagogy for people with sensory deficits and disabilities after losing vision in my right eye due to an infection,” says Manson. “I enrolled in the Bachelor of Physical Health and Education (BPHE) at U of T with the objective of becoming a high school physical education teacher.” Following his graduation, Manson decided to pursue a master’s degree at the KPE under the supervision of Associate Professor Luc Tremblay, followed by a PhD co-supervised by Tremblay.  “It took me some time to adjust to KPE coming from my high school in Toronto’s west end, but I had a very positive experience,” says Manson. “I have met many lifelong friends here throughout my years of undergrad and graduate study. The experience definitely helped prepare me for my future career.”

As an undergraduate student, Manson went from wanting to be a PE teacher to considering going into medical school or environmental health. During his master’s, he thought about enrolling in nursing and becoming a research analyst. It wasn’t until he was in his PhD program that he strongly committed to trying to be a professor. “I had a lot of part-time work while I was in undergraduate and graduate studies,” says Manson. “These jobs also helped prepare me in different ways for my career.” He worked as an ambassador, tour guide and community animator at U of T. He also worked as a research assistant in two labs in KPE. Outside of the Faculty, he worked as a sales rep for Hewlett Packard and as a freelance scientific writing editor when he was abroad. He also worked as a meal delivery biker between finishing his PhD and moving to Houston, where he did a one-year post-doctoral fellowship in neurosurgery at Houston Methodist Research Institute, prior to getting the faculty position at Queen’s.

“In all of these jobs I learned valuable skills that help That career is working at the Queen’s University me now in my role as a professor and researcher,” he School of Kinesiology & Health Studies as an assistant says. professor and researcher in neuromechanics and motor control. But, Manson didn’t always plan it that way. He also volunteered with the Summer Mentorship On February 25, he got to share his career trajectory Program at U of T, students for barrier-free access with KPE students at the inaugural KINections BIPOC and graduate orientation week events with the School Career Café, designed to connect Black, Indigenous of Graduate Studies.   and People of Colour alumni with students interested in hearing about their experiences. “Although it was hard to justify volunteering over taking more work shifts sometimes, I found that “It was important for me to be part of this discussion these positions presented opportunities to learn because I feel like I would have appreciated hearing from people I would like to work with or be one day that your path is not always straightforward,” says such as deans, learning strategists and community Manson. “Life can hit you in different ways and present leaders,” he says. “Volunteering also came with many challenges, especially for BIPOC students. I many underrated adhoc benefits like a locker, a would like students to take away the idea that you don’t parking spot/bike storage or a desk where I could always see an end, and it is okay to change your idea.” study in my downtime.” Pursuit | Summer 2021


Alumni Updates


Donna Roach Mathieu is fostering inclusion, one generation to the next By Nathan Sager



Alumni Updates


s clinical supervisor of psychological services for the Durham District School Board near Toronto, Donna Roach Mathieu often relies on lessons learned during her Varsity Blues volleyball career. This has been especially true over the last year when much of her work needed to be performed virtually due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“Working with those to whom I provide clinical supervision is not a lonely job at all,” says Roach Mathieu, who was inducted into the University of Toronto Sports Hall of Fame in 2019. “But doing so virtually has made us all realize how much work we do together and how much we rely on each other.”

Recalling important lessons from her days as a varsity athlete, she stresses the importance of teamwork. “Each teammate has a role to play, whether on the court or at work,” says Roach Mathieu, who completed her undergraduate, master’s and PhD degrees at U of T before becoming a psychologist. Playing volleyball at university was a “lifeline” for Roach Mathieu who says it was “an honour to be on a team with such incredible, inspirational, strong, intelligent women role models.” She is now a major supporter of the Spirit of 8T9 Women’s Volleyball Award, offered to a student-athlete for excellence in women’s volleyball.

“Helping empower kids with self-awareness and teaching them how to regulate themselves has been part of my latest journey.” Roach Mathieu has carried her love of sport and physical activity with her through her life. Working with school children, she likes to impart the value of physical activity and fitness as part of modelling good mental health habits. She is certified to teach yoga and mindfulness, and has taken on triathlons, cycling through the Pyrenees, climbing Mount Kilimanjaro and sea kayaking in Greenland. “I was able to link my vocation and some of my other pleasures,” she says of her yoga and mindfulness teaching. “Helping empower kids with self-awareness and teaching them how to regulate themselves has been part of my latest journey.” Roach Mathieu is also passionate about fostering inclusion within communities – a value that was ingrained in her family. “My parents’ life work was all about welcoming West Indian families into Canada,” Roach Mathieu says. “Their passing has brought up questions for my family about ‘how can we continue to share that work?’” Photos/ KPE archives

Her extended family set up the Winston & Merle Roach Mathieu Camp Leadership Fund. Named for her late parents, the fund is intended to foster Black leadership at camps run by the United Church of Canada. But that’s not where the family efforts of building inclusion end. Her niece, Varsity Blues track and field athlete Jada Roach, is actively working on continuing this legacy as head of communications for the newly formed U of T Black, Indigenous and People of Colour (BIPOC) Varsity Association. “It’s so incredible to see this important cause picked up by my niece’s generation,” says Roach Mathieu. “When Jada told us what she was doing, we were all incredibly proud and supportive.” The younger Roach draws plenty of inspiration from her aunt. Says Jada, “She has definitely been a pioneer for BIPOC student-athletes here at U of T, having accomplished so much as both student and athlete.” Pursuit | Summer 2021


Alumni Updates


A degree in PHE leads to friendship for life By John Robb

Every year, university students graduate with broader horizons and a degree. Some leave with more. In September of 1974, Vince Diniz, Doug Fox and Greg Sora were among the first-year students in PHE. All were Toronto natives. Diniz had graduated from De La Salle College. Fox and Sora had both gone to high school at Don Mills Collegiate, but in different years. In the following year, Gary Crocker, a graduate of the C.W. Jefferys Collegiate Institute, arrived as well. The four young men had all chosen to enrol in PHE because of a strong affinity for sports and competition. As with many others at that time, their goal upon graduation was to become physical education teachers at a high school level. The four soon became friends. PHE was a small unit, with about 100 students in each of the four years, so they shared academic classes, as well as the many physical activity classes. An early one was the track and field class at Varsity Stadium. While they were recovering from the mandated twelve-minute run, coach Andy Higgins came by to state that he wanted to imprint on them the importance of fitness for life. There were also lots of social opportunities, as well as Varsity Blues football and hockey games to attend. Fox was a captain of the Blues basketball team. Before they knew it, four years had passed and they were proud graduates.



Diniz decided to go into the field of health care, where he enjoyed a successful career. Crocker, Fox and Sora went on to OISE, where they earned their teaching qualifications. Crocker and Sora got teaching positions. Crocker advanced to become a principal before retiring. Sora was one of the most successful coaches in his region, leading 29 different teams to championships before he, too, retired. Fox found a place at Humber College, where he became one of the most respected and innovative athletic directors in the country. Although their paths had diverged, their friendship remained as strong as ever. Somehow in those pre-Facebook days they managed to stay in touch. They all attended each other's weddings and saw each other regularly. Then in 1983, they began a tradition that has been maintained to this day. Every two months, a different member of the group hosts a dinner at his home. It has continued ever since. Their families have grown together and they have been there for each other through all of life’s ups and downs, including funerals and, more recently, their children’s weddings. They share a cottage long weekend and several golf outings, each year. Even now, during the COVID-19 pandemic, the friends keep together through a group texting chat or Facebook, where they’ll sometimes meet to watch a Leafs’ game together. Coach Higgins would be proud: after 40 years, they have fitness and friendship for life. Photo/ Courtesy of John Robb

Alumni Updates

Rowing alumni join student-athletes for Quaranteam Challenge

The Quaranteam Challenge was held in May in 2020. The month-long event was created as a way for the Varsity Blues rowing community to stay fit together during the pandemic when athletes everywhere have been finding it difficult to stay motivated training alone. Eighty-two current and former Blues participated in the challenge. Studentathletes were separated into 10 teams named after past and present U of T boats and competed to see who could

log the most athletic metres by May 31, 2020. Athletes logged their “metres” by erging, biking, jogging, swimming, dancing and lifting. Participants filled in a tracking sheet each day. Together the group logged 31,681,754 metres – more than four times across Canada! The first placed team was Team Gary Stinson: Cora McCloy, Erika Pataki, Jeany Ellis, Fiona Milne, Jill Catherine Rutherford, Kubet Weston, Meghan Dillon, Stephanie Veitch, Julie Winterburn and Stephanie Calhoun.

Team Stinson clocked a total distance of 4,969,662 metres throughout the challenge. The Quaranteam Challenge was not only great for keeping team spirits high, but also gave alumni the chance to work in partnership with current athletes, doing what rowers love to do: continue to better themselves athletically and stay competitive. Congratulations, and thanks to all who participated! — Emily Kakouris

Varsity Blues Football Year of the Double Win In November 1965, the Varsity Blues football team beat back an early lead by Western University to win the Yates Cup, earning a coveted spot in the newly established national championship game. When game day arrived, there was a steady downpour in near-freezing temperatures. Ultimately, the Blues prevailed over the Alberta Golden Bears and secured the first Vanier Cup. November 2020 marked the 55th anniversary of this milestone year in which the Varsity Blues football team won both provincial and national championship titles. The anniversary celebration included a special online event with a viewing of the film The Year of the Double Win, a panel discussion, and an online reunion for members of the 1965 team. The event panel included Sportsnet's Arash Madani; Varsity Blues head coach Greg Marshall and recruiting coordinator Joe Cappiello; co-captain of the 1965 team Bryce Taylor (MD 1968); and MVP of the Vanier Cup game Gerry Sternberg (BA 1966 UC). — EK The film is available for viewing at https://vimeo.com/478171094 The panel discussion is available at https://vimeo.com/481855162 Photo/ KPE archives/ Zoom screen shots provied by the participants

Pursuit | Summer 2021


Alumni Updates


Liz Hoffman elected president of Golf Canada Former University of Toronto Varsity Blues athletic director Liz Hoffman was elected the 116th president of Golf Canada at its 2021 annual meeting. “It is an honour to represent our member clubs and golfers from coast to coast as the president of Golf Canada,” said Hoffman. “To follow in the path of friends, mentors and colleagues who have empowered my journey with this storied organization. We have a really special opportunity in this current environment to advance the sport of golf, and together with the board of directors, our CEO Laurence Applebaum, our talented staff and volunteers and so many partners across the golf and sport community, I look forward to being a part of it.” Hoffman retired from the University of Toronto Faculty of Physical Education and Health in 2010. She was a driving force behind the



growth of intercollegiate competition in Canada. She served on the board of directors of Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) during three different decades (1982-86, 1993-97, 2003-07), including being its president from 1995-97, and was a U of T delegate to Ontario University Athletics (OUA) and its predecessors since 1977, including terms as president and past president from 1980-84 and 2003-07. She built a tremendous coaching team at U of T, where under her leadership the Varsity Blues claimed 17 national titles and 126 provincial team championships over 20 seasons. Hoffman joined the Varsity Blues staff immediately after graduation from the BPHE program in 1971, and embarked on an outstanding career in coaching and administration. She led Varsity Blues field hockey to 16 Ontario league titles and eight CIS championships in 20 seasons and was selected CIS coach of the year

three times; the annual award for the Canadian university women’s field hockey player of the year is named in her honour. She also served as head coach of the Ontario field hockey program from 1977 to 1994, guiding teams to numerous national championships, and was the National Regional Coach for Ontario and Quebec from 1982 to 1994. Her university coaching success also included two Ontario champions in women’s swimming and three titles in intermediate field hockey. In 1987, Hoffman was a charter inductee into the U of T Sports Hall of Fame. She was a key player in the redevelopment of Varsity Centre, overseeing the construction of the multi-phased project to date, which showcased itself through the hosting of a series of successful events, including the 2009 Festival of Excellence, featuring Usain Bolt. — JC Photo/ Courtesy of Golf Canada

Alumni Updates

Pictures worth a thousand yards Varsity Blues Football alumnus Mike Steele (BPHE 1977, BEd 1978 OISE) has created a series of Google Photo Albums celebrating Varsity Blues football. Visitors can join, view and upload photos to build a collective book of memories for every era to be shared and enjoyed by all. To connect or share photos from your era, please contact: alumni.kpe@utoronto.ca

Order of Canada In December 2019, the following KPE and Varsity Blues alumni were appointed to the Order of Canada: Dr. Anne Innis Dagg (BA 1955 UC, MA 1956, Tennis) For her contributions to the modern scientific understanding of the giraffe, through which she has helped enhance the field of animal behaviour science. Joyce Hisey (BPHE 1951) For her contributions to figure skating as a judge, referee and mentor to both competitors and other officials. Stuart McGill (BPHE 1980, Football) For his contributions to understanding the biomechanics of the spinal column and to the development of rehabilitation programs. Photos/ Top: KPE archives/ Bottom Left: Sgt Johanie Maheu/ Bottom Right: Cindy Yelle

Cindy Yelle named new boss of the Canadian Olympic Foundation In February 2020, Cindy Yelle (BA 1990 UC, Swimming) was named chief executive officer of the Canadian Olympic Foundation by the Canadian Olympic Committee (COC). Yelle was a member of the Canadian Olympic swim team at the Los Angeles 1984 Olympics. Pursuit | Summer 2021


In Memory

We Remember ...

Ron Murphy

“We are saddened to hear of the passing of Ron Murphy,” says Varsity Blues head coach Greg Marshall. A member of the Varsity Blues football coaching staff when the team won the inaugural Vanier Cup in 1965, “Murph” spent 17 seasons (1966-82) as the team’s head coach and is the Blues all-time leader in career coaching victories (93). Under his guidance, the Blues won league titles in 1967 and 1974, and posted only one losing season. Ron was named the CIAU coach of the year in 1974, when the Blues were Vanier Cup finalists and set a U of T record for victories in a single season (10), which stood until 1993. During his tenure, the Blues produced 13 CIAU all-Canadians and 110 Ontario all-stars.

for outstanding services in the advancement of athletics at the university. As a player, Ron was signed by his hometown Hamilton Tiger Cats right out of high school, and played on their 1953 Grey Cup championship team. He then played three seasons at McGill and later returned as an assistant coach after four more years in the CFL with the Montreal Alouettes. Many former colleagues reached out to express their love for Murph. “Murph really cared for his players,” said Dave Copp, a teammate of Ron’s at McGill and an assistant coach with the Blues from 1968-81. “When most teams were teaching the butt block, initiating contact with the head, Murph taught the drive block, initiating contact with the hands to protect the head from repeated blows. Coaching with Murph was a great privilege.”

Ron stepped down as head coach in 1983, but returned as an assistant coach from 1986-93, winning his second Vanier Cup in 1993. At the “He was a great coach, a great mentor and a truly great person,” says inaugural OUAA Football Legends dinner in 1993, he received the league’s Rick Kollins, a member of Ron’s coaching staff in the 1970s and author prestigious John S. McManus Award in recognition of his coaching of 150 Years of Football at the University of Toronto. “He never let his ego contributions to university sport. The following year, Ron received one of get in the way of helping others to do their best. As a role model and U of T’s most prestigious athletic honours, the Thomas L. Loudon Award, inspiration, he will be missed.”



Photo/ KPE archives/

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 Natalie Agro, Interim Director Advancement and Alumni Affairs, Natalie.agro@utoronto.ca or alumni.kpe@utoronto.ca

In Memory

Arthur Scace The University of Toronto and the Varsity Blues community was saddened to learn about the passing of Dr. Arthur Scace (BA 1960 TRIN, Hon DSL 2003, Hon LLD 2003) in May 2020 at the age of 82. Dr. Scace was a dedicated volunteer, philanthropist and community leader in and outside the University, and was inducted as a member of the Order of Canada in 2004. An accomplished and highly respected tax lawyer, Scace started his career with McCarthy Tétrault LLP in 1967, eventually becoming a partner of the firm in 1972. Scace was a graduate of Trinity College, University of Toronto class of 1960, and a member of the 1957 Mulock Cup football team. Scace met his wife, alumna Susan Scace, during his time at Trinity College and as proud U of T graduates, both Arthur and Susan devoted their time, talents and expertise to many educational and cultural institutions. Notably, the Scaces were among the first supporters of the University’s COVID-19 Action Fund, which is currently helping U of T researchers take action against the COVID-19 pandemic.

David West “David’s passing leaves a noticeable void in the Toronto basketball community,” says John Campbell, head coach of the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team. “He was a legend not only as a player, but also as a coach. In his almost 70-year basketball career, David touched the lives of so many of us. On a personal level, David provided tremendous support for me as a young coach in the CCAA as well as when I moved to the University of Toronto. He often took time after watching a game online or in person to follow-up with a note of congratulations or encouragement.” During his time at U of T, West played five seasons with the Varsity Blues men’s basketball team and was awarded the W.A Potter award as the team’s most valuable player, in both 1963-64 and 1964-65. A perenial league all-star, he was also the recipient of the 1965 George M. Biggs Trophy, a prestigious award given annually to the graduating undergraduate male athlete who has contributed most to university athletics. West was the Blues career regular-season scoring leader with 1,269 points in 62 games from 1960-65. He held that record until the 2013-14 season when it was ultimately broken by Alex Hill (2010-14).



Photos/ KPE archives/Torontonensis

In Memory

Bob Laycoe “Bob was a tremendous leader, a proven winner, a great coach and outstanding mentor to so many football student-athletes. His contributions to the Varsity Blues program go beyond his welldocumented accolades on the football field. His legacy continues to shine through the many lives he touched,” says Beth Ali, executive director of athletics and physical activity at the Faculty. Laycoe was the Blues football head coach from 1988-2001 and guided U of T to the 1993 Yates and Vanier Cup championship titles. Over his 14 seasons, he led the program to a national title, earned OUA coach of the year honours in 1992 and had 14 CFL-draftees, including CFL all-star Rob Crifo; Grey Cup champion and current head coach of the Alberta Golden Bears, Chris Morris; 1998 Grey Cup champion Jung-Yul Kim; and current Hamilton Tiger-Cats chief operating officer Scott Mitchell. Laycoe also served as a mentor to his players and believed in a holistic approach to the development of a complete student-athlete. “I have tried to give my players something they will remember and carry with them through life,” Laycoe said in a 2002 interview with The Varsity. “That's what football is all about, so much more than just winning and losing.” Many former Varsity Blues reached out to express their words of thanks and admiration for Coach Laycoe, including 1992 OUA top lineman and two-time all-Canadian David Scandiffio.

“Bob Laycoe was an incredible leader who challenged those around him to face adversity head on, and in the process elevate themselves to achieve greater things than they knew were even imaginable,” says Scandiffio, the current president and CEO of CIBC asset management. “He did this with incredible calm, integrity, dedication and compassion for those around him.”

Bill Yorzyk

“When you looked Bill in the eye, you could see his unrivalled passion for the sport of swimming – and for winning,” remembers Byron MacDonald, long-time head coach of the Varsity Blues swimming program. “He was focused and to the point. He was driven and a high-energy person. He would push you to explain how you, as an individual, were going to get better at what you did, in swimming or outside of swimming.” Yorzyk made his mark at the 1956 Summer Olympics in Melbourne, Australia. Representing the United States, Yorzyk became the first gold medal champion of the, then, newly added 200-metre butterfly event, finishing with a time of 2:19.3 in the final.  Following the Olympics, Yorzyk came to U of T to study medicine and joined the Varsity Blues swim team. Yorzyk swam during the 1957-58 season, which culminated with the team winning the Ontario Quebec Amateur Athletics (OQAA) championship that year. He took over as the head coach in 1958-59, following the departure of Cressy McCatty, and helped lead the team to two additional OQAA championships.   Yorzyk was twice named U of T’s scholar athlete of the year, earning the Bickle Award in both 1958 and 1959, and later served as a physician in the United States Air Force Medical Corps, being commissioned a captain. A member of the U of T Sports Hall of Fame, Yorzyk was inducted into the International Swimming Hall of Fame as an “Honor Swimmer” in 1971. Photos/ KPE archives /Jeff Caton

Alex Witmer

“We are devastated and heartbroken to have lost Alex. For those who were fortunate enough to know Alex, his brightness, his smile, his humour, his lightning-quick comebacks, the wonderful way in which he made everyone around him better,” says track and field head coach Carl Georgevski. Alex competed in high jump for the Varsity Blues for two seasons (2010-12), highlighted by a gold-medal performance at the 2011 CIS national track and field championships. He was diagnosed with epithelioid glioblastoma, a rare and aggressive form of brain cancer and passed away in June 2020. He was 31 years old. We are grateful to have had Alex as a part of our Varsity Blues family and will cherish the time spent with him. He will be sincerely missed, but never forgotten. Pursuit | Summer 2021


In Memory

We Remember ... The Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education and Varsity Blues communities remember our alumni. Notices of death published in this issue were received between late July 2019 and early March 2021. Friends and family of deceased alumni can help by sending information to address.update@utoronto.ca Dr. Ronald Anco BScP 1956 PHM, DDS 1965, Swimming of Etobicoke, ON; December 14, 2020

Mr. Kenneth H. Andison BASc 1946, Hockey

of Whitby, ON; September 9, 2019

Mr. Paul Avis BASc 1960, BEd 1974 OISE, Soccer of Kanata, ON; March 31, 2020

Mr. Peter H. Aykroyd BASc 1945, Swimming

of Elginburg, ON; July 4, 2020

Dr. Douglas A. Baird MD 1961, Football

of Markham, ON; November 15, 2020

Mr. Donald G. Barber BA 1952 UC, Basketball

of Toronto, ON; January 30, 2020

Mr. Ron E. Belcher BPHE 1966

of Mount Hope, ON; June 10, 2020

Dr. L. George Bonar, BASc 1958, Badminton

of Port Hope, ON; January 16, 2021

Dr. Stephen J. Cartan MD 1969, Football

of Kettleby, ON; April 11, 2020

Ms. Briony J. Cayley 1972 TRIN, Hockey

of Toronto, ON; November 27, 2019

Professor John Coles BA 1952 VIC, Tennis

of Devon, UK; October 14, 2020

Mr. William M. Cox BA 1951 TRIN, Rugby

of Devonshire, Bermuda; July 30, 2020

Mr. John E. Crawford BA 1955 UC, MSc 1956, Fencing

of Westmount, QC; September 19, 2020

Mr. Michael H. Davis BA 1958 TRIN, Rugby

of Colborne, ON; November 1, 2020

Dr. John W. Digby MD 1954, Football

of Toronto, ON; January 31, 2020

Dr. David Dime BSc 1973 NEW, PhD 1978, Squash of Toronto, ON; July 6, 2020

Mr. Verner M. Booth BASc 1945, Basketball

Mr. James Edmonds BA 1959 VIC, Basketball

Mr. Alan Bowler BASc 1953, Soccer

Dr. Richard B. Edwards MD 1957, Rugby

Mr. Robert Brock BPHE 1955, BEd 1971 OISE, MEd 1978 OISE

Mr. Duncan A. Ellis BPHE 1953, Football

Mr. Duncan A. Brodie BASc 1959, Football, Hockey

Mr. Gilbert Farmer BPHE 1966, Hockey

Mr. Donald J. Brown BPHE 1955, Football

Dr. Lawrence Farrow DDS 1965, Football

Mr. Harold Browne BASc 1957, MASc 1958, Tennis

Mrs. Mary I. Fleming (nee MacPherson) BPHE 1950, Hockey

Mr. James G. Carl BA 1953 VIC, Tennis

Mr. James R. Frame BPHE 1953, BEd 1957 OISE, MEd 1964

of Stouffville, ON; February 21, 2021

of Mississauga, ON; June 7, 2020

of Toronto, ON; August 13, 2020

of Rochester, MI; October 10, 2020

of Scarborough, ON; December 14, 2019

of Willowdale, ON; March 10, 2020

of Tiny, ON; December 7, 2019


of Iroquois, ON; August 23, 2019

of Milton, ON; March 26, 2020

of Orillia, ON; April 9, 2020

of Fredericton, NB; March 28, 2021

of Mississauga, ON; May 23, 2020

of Collingwood, ON; May 15, 2020

of Aurora, ON; November 25, 2019

Mr. Kenneth E. Fry BEd 1966 OISE, Swimming

of Whitby, ON; December 14, 2019

Mr. Michael V. Gestrin HBA 1987 UC, MA 1991, Rowing of Toronto, ON; October 31, 2019

Dr. Carole-Ann Guzman (nee Broadhurst) BA 1954 SMC, MD 1958, Basketball of Ottawa, ON; March 21, 2020

Mrs. Alison Hall (nee Jeffries) BA 1950 VIC, Hockey of Vineland, ON; August 14, 2019

Mr. David H. M. Hemblen BA 1964 UC, MA 1970, Rugby

of Halifax, NS; November 16, 2020

Mrs. Joan D. Hodges (nee Tait) BA 1962 VIC, MEd 1988 OISE, Swimming of Barrie, ON; September 7, 2020

Mr. Riford T. Holman BPHE 1948

of Etobicoke, ON; July 13, 2020

Mrs. Lorna J. Horton (nee Van Camp) BPHE 1950 of Stouffville, ON; July 21, 2020

Mr. Ernest Howard BA 1950 TRIN, Squash, Tennis of Toronto, ON; October 8, 2020

Mr. Richard V. Howson BComm 1951 VIC, Hockey, Football of Stouffville, ON; June 14, 2020

Mr. Bruce A. Hughes BA 1957 UC, Track & Field

of Port Sydney, ON; March 31, 2020

Dr. Harry A. Hyde MD 1953, Football, Hockey

of Saanich, BC; March 6, 2020

Mr. Gary G. Inness BEd 1973 OISE, Hockey

of Brampton, ON; February 23, 2021

Dr. Michael Joy BSc 1963 TRIN, MASc 1967, PhD 1970, Rugby of Caledon, ON; July 5, 2020

Dr. Paul M. Kavanagh BA 1950 SMC, Hockey

of Toronto, ON; September 11, 2019

In our Spring 2021 issue of Pursuit (print edition), our Faculty incorrectly listed alumnus John “Jack” M. Hanna (BPHE 1969, BEd 1970 OISE) as deceased. We are happy to report that Mr. Hanna is alive and well! Jack has been a key point of contact as the Email Coordinator of Class of 1969, and we are grateful for the work he’s done to keep his classmates connected.The University of Toronto and the Faculty sincerely apologize to Mr. Hanna, his family, friends, and peers for any distress caused by this error.



In Memory Mrs. Leslie Kerry (nee Newman) BPHE 1955

Mrs. Diana M. Mitchell (nee Walker) BA 1955 UC, Badminton

Dr. Diana M. Schatz (nee Michener) BA 1954 VIC, PHD 1958, Hockey, Basketball

Mr. Oliver Ketchum BPHE 1952

Mrs. Sandra A. Moffatt (nee McMullen) BPHE 1960, Basketball

Mr. Rolf C. Seifert BArch 1986, Water Polo

Mrs. Jean H. L. Klemets (nee Broijer) BPHE 1955

Mr. Alastair G. Moran BA 1977 VIC, Football

Mrs. Enid E. Sills (nee Walmsley) BPHE 1952

Lieutenant Colonel Gerhard Knopf BASc 1957, Soccer

Mrs. Ada Morris (nee MacPherson) BPHE 1957, Swimming

Dr. Hillary J. Slater-Berry BPHE 1951, MD 1966

Mr. Janis Kravis BArch 1959, Water Polo

Mr. Robert J. Morrow BPHE 1972, BEd 1973 OISE, Football

Mr. John P. Stephenson BASc 1963, Wrestling

Dr. Edward J. Ksiazek DDS 1955, Football

Mr. Ronald Murphy MEd 1981 OISE, Coach, Varsity Blues Football

Mr. Peter M. Stewart BA 1952 TRIN, Tennis

Mr. Robert Laycoe Varsity Blues Football Coach, 1988-2001

Dr. Daniel Nelson DDS 1958, Football

Mr. Elmer Strom BPHE 1957

Mr. David A. Leslie BA 1967 VIC, Fencing

Mrs. Barbara M. Paluch-Berthiaume BA 1978 SMC, BEd 1979 OISE, Archery

Dr. Barry G. Stroud BA 1958 UC, Basketball

Mr. Frank Lewarne BASc 1943, Track & Field

Mr. Harry Pasternak BPHE 1964

Mr. Robert J. Tweedy BA 1964 TRIN, Football

Dr. George E. Lindsay MD 1956, Hockey, Swimming

Mrs. Jacqueline Y. Philp (nee Wickware) BA 1956 VIC, Hockey

Mrs. Shirley E. Main (nee Roberts) BPHE 1954, Basketball

Mr. Robert A. Pollock BPHE 1948

Mr. David R. McCuaig BASc 1958, Basketball

Mr. William J. Priestner BASc 1957, Football

Mr. William R. McCutcheon BPHE 1951

Mr. William B. Prokop BPHE 1961, BA 1962 UC, Basketball

Mr. William M. McFarlane BASc 1954, Football

Mr. Vernon E. Purcell BA 1945 UC, LLB 1947, Basketball

Ms. Leslie A. McGillis BPHE 1983

Professor John B. Ridpath BASc 1959, MBA 1963, Swimming

Mr. James H. McMurray BPHE 1957

Mr. John S. Rumble BPHE 1967

Mr. Moore G. Miller BSc 1995 VIC, Rowing

Dr. Sally A. Sarles MD 1954, Basketball

Mr. Robert C. Milne BA 1953 VIC, Football

Dr. Arthur R. A. Scace BA 1960 TRIN, LLD 2003, Football

of Port Severn, ON; August 18, 2019

of Kitchener, ON; April 15, 2020

of Mississauga, ON; January 9, 2021

of Etobicoke, ON; September 7, 2020

of Toronto, ON; July 16, 2020

of Burlington, ON; April 9, 2020

of Kaleden, BC; December 28, 2020

of Toronto, ON; September 16, 2019

of Markham, ON; December 4, 2019

of Grimsby, ON; October 6, 2019

of Victoria, BC; December 3, 2019

of Waterloo, ON; May 31, 2020

of Sutton West, ON; July 30, 2019

of Burlington, ON; June 28, 2020

of Gores Landing, ON; August 20, 2019

of Mississauga, ON; October 2, 2020

of Toronto, ON; March 31, 2020

of Willowdale, ON; December 27, 2019

of Halifax, NS; December 7, 2020

of Scarborough, ON; January 24, 2020

of Toronto, ON; February 1, 2021

of Toronto, ON; February 18, 2021

of Aurora, ON; August 9, 2020

of Pickering, ON; October 20, 2020

of St. Catharines, ON; November 18, 2019

of Bolton, ON; August 23, 2019

of Toronto, ON; November 22, 2019

of Toronto, ON; March 10, 2020

of Barrie, ON; July 6, 2020

of Burlington, ON; August 12, 2020

of Kemp, TX; May 5, 2020

of North York, ON; March 2, 2020

of Toronto, ON; March 23, 2021

of Toronto, ON; December 20, 2019

of Picton, ON; April 28, 2020

of Toronto, ON; May 3, 2020

of Toronto, ON; October 24, 2020

of Graz, Austria; October 6, 2019

of Peterborough, ON; May 24, 2020

of Uxbridge, ON; August 12, 2019

of Richmond Hill, ON; August 5, 2020

of Thornbury, ON; January 4, 2020

of Etobicoke, ON; August 4, 2019

of Berkeley, CA; August 9, 2019

of Toronto, ON; February 1, 2021

Dr. Albert W. P. Van Nostrand MD 1959, Track & Field of Gormley, ON; January 29, 2020

Mr. Barry W. West BSc 1958, BASc 1959, Track & Field of Picton, ON; April 14, 2020

Mr. David E. West BA 1963 VIC, BEd 1971 OISE, Basketball of Etobicoke, ON; July 20, 2020

Mr. George G. Whittaker BA 1952 TRIN, Sailing

of Collingwood, ON; July 4, 2020

Mr. Douglas E. Williams BA 1959 VIC, Hockey

of Oshawa, ON; February 5, 2020

Mr. Craig R. R. Williamson BPHE 1967, Football

of North York, ON; June 12, 2020

Mr. C. Alexander Witmer BSc 2021 Woodsworth, Track & Field of Kitchener, ON; June 14, 2020

Mr. Meredith R. Wright BASc 1957, Hockey

of Sault Ste. Marie, ON; June 23, 2020

Dr. William A. Yorzyk MD 1961, Swimming

of E Brookfield, MA; September 2, 2020

Pursuit | Summer 2021



1949-50 Men’s Basketball team: Left to Right; R. P. Masterson, Coach; W. J. Babcock, Manager; E. D. Wigle; J. A. Bell; J. M. Gray; J. Braithwaite; J. S. McManus; W. D. Huycke; G. N. Gibbs; W. J. Henderson; E. H. Luck; D. C. Carruthers.

Meet John Braithwaite J

ohn Braithwaite is believed to be the first Black athlete to play on the University of Toronto Varsity Blues men,s basketball team.

Although he played on the junior team in 1948-49, Braithwaite suited up for the Varsity senior team in 1949-50 and became the first Black player to do so. This would be just one of many “firsts” the Toronto native would achieve in his lifetime. Braithwaite earned three degrees from U of T: a Bachelor of Arts in 1951 from University College, a Bachelor of Science in Social Work in 1955 and Master’s of Social Work in 1956. Following the completion of his master’s degree, Braithwaite moved to the West Coast, where he looked to establish a strong foundation and make an immediate impact in his local and surrounding communities. He created, endorsed and participated in numerous organizations, such as the North Shore Neighbourhood House, the Black Action Coalition Committee and the National Action Committee on Race Relations. In 1972, he was first elected to the North Vancouver City Council and was one of only three Black politicians in British Columbia.



He served on the North Vancouver City Council until 1976, when he took a brief break from municipal politics. He rejoined council in 1983 and was then re-elected consecutively until his retirement in 2002. Altogether, Braithwaite spent 23 years in elected office. Since 1956, when the North Shore Neighbourhood House offered him a job, he has clocked almost 40 years of experience as a social worker, working with troubled youth. Braithwaite set up a boys program at the House and made it his goal to build a lasting connection with the community of North Vancouver by the end of his first year there. He then worked closely with the Squamish Nation as a social worker, along with others in his field to set up the band’s first internal social worker program. Then, in 2004, the John Braithwaite Community Centre in North Vancouver opened its doors, honouring a man whose decades of social work helped the city’s troubled youth and broke down barriers in the community. —JC

Photos/ Courtesy of Toronto Nensis

Thank you We extend our sincere appreciation to you – the generous alumni, volunteers and friends who support our Faculty and make such a profound impact on the health, development, well-being and experience of our students, student-athletes and the Faculty as a whole. Your commitment provides lasting, positive effects for our students and student-athletes for decades after they leave U of T.




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