The University of Toronto honoured 27 Varsity Blues athletes with Silver T awards at the 14th annual President's Reception last week at the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.
U of T President Meric Gertler hosted the annual event, which was started by his predecessor, President Emeritus David Naylor, in 2006.
The luncheon recognizes the athletic excellence of the Varsity Blues, while acknowledging the hard work and dedication of staff, students and volunteers who make the Varsity Blues intercollegiate program possible.
“The University of Toronto student athletes have donned the blue for over 140 years. They’ve represented U of T with determination, dedication and distinction and the group that we have gathered here today is no exception,” said President Gertler. “This past season has seen another bumper crop of individual and collective victories, personal bests and proud podium moments, giving our community so many reasons to cheer.
“I love following your exploits on Instagram.”
Ten Varsity Blues teams were crowned provincial champions, 109 athletes were named Ontario University Athletics (OUA) all-stars, 22 were named University Sports (U Sports) all-Canadians. U of T also claimed five OUA coaches of the year and two national coaches of the year.
“Of course, today we are recognizing more than just the results of a single season,” said President Gertler. “Today we are also saluting each and every Varsity Blues athlete for your talent, commitment and amazing ability to balance academics with the demands of highly competitive athletics. You’re part of a tradition of exceptional student athletes who have done our university very proud and who have created an amazing legacy of excellence.”
U of T runs one of the largest and most successful university sports programs on the continent with 42 teams competing in 24 sports and close to 900 student athletes involved. President Gertler thanked the entire Varsity athletics community for their efforts and dedication in accomplishing this massive undertaking. He acknowledged the faculty members, coaches, trainers, volunteers, as well as the people working in registrar’s offices in the various colleges, divisions and campuses at U of T for supporting and encouraging student athletes.
“You have all enriched our students’ education and lives outside the classroom, outside of the laboratories and libraries,” said President Gertler, who was presented framed pictures of this season’s Varsity champions in recognition of his support for U of T’s athletics program.
U of T President Meric Gertler and KPE Dean Ira Jacobs give Laura Amoi the Silver T award at the 2019 Varsity Blues President's Reception (photo by Seyran Mammadov)
Professor Ira Jacobs, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, said he was proud to be a member of a university community that provides opportunities for student athletes to perform, train and experience the life of high performance athletes.
“I want to congratulate you for taking the initiative of adding that experience to everything else that you do as students of U of T and managing your life so appropriately,” he said.
Jacobs said he was also very proud that the university is able to provide student athletes with the environment to be the best they can be.
“As a physiologist, I know that an athlete’s ability to use their potential is dependent on the support we can provide them as an institution, as a university, and that includes buildings like the Goldring Centre, but also the coaches – the people that run and operate these facilities, the people that carry on the financial planning transactions, the people that work in sport medicine and so many more,” said Jacobs.
Jacobs and Gertler presented the student athletes with their Silver Ts, as Beth Ali, executive director of athletics and physical activity at the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, introduced their athletic achievements.
“I am always amazed when I see all of you here in your Varsity Blues gear,” said Ali.
“This day is very exciting for all of us in the Varsity Blues program, because it’s an opportunity for us to recognize the great efforts of our student athletes and coaches, and also for me to share with our guests what I get every day from working with all of you. Nothing makes me happier than watching our students compete provincially, locally or nationally. You are true ambassadors of our program,” she said.
Laura Amoi, a fifth-year Rotman Commerce student and member of the Varsity Blues track and field team, was among the student athletes awarded with the Silver T award. She joined the track and field team in her first year as an undergraduate student, specializing in the long jump and triple jump program.
“Being part of the team has given me lots of balance in terms of having a schedule and learning to discipline myself,” said Amoi. “You have a lot of free time at university, you don’t have as many classes as you do in high school, so being on a Varsity team helped me manage my time better.”
Amoi says that being on the Varsity team also gave her a family of teammates and coaches she wouldn’t have met otherwise “and those are relationships that are going to last for a lifetime.”
She thinks of her award as a reward for her perseverance.
“It’s not been an easy ride, there have been a lot of ups and downs and sometimes the downs lasted for a month or two months or even a year, due to injuries or academic difficulties. But, this feels like a reward for the perseverance,” Amoi said.
Gertler and Jacobs give Victoria Radounski the Silver T award at the reception (photo by Seyran Mammadov)
Fifth-year kinesiology student and member of the Varsity Blues swimming team Victoria Radounski was also awarded with a Silver T. Like Amoi, she joined the Varsity Blues in her first year and also credits her time management skills to that decision.
“We have such a rigorous schedule, so there’s been a lot of balancing between school and swimming, waking up early, going to bed on time, very little time to do anything else. You really have to be on top of everything and plan ahead of time,” said Radounski.
“I remember coming into my first year and thinking this was so overwhelming, but then I told myself I can do this, it’s only temporary and it will be good in the long run.”
Getting the Silver T was proof her perseverance paid off.
The prestigious Silver T is awarded primarily to Bronze T holders in their graduating year for outstanding athletic performance. Here is a complete list of the 2018-19 Silver T recipients:
Laura Amoi, track and field
Jason Barnable, lacrosse
Matt Campagna, hockey
Gillian Ceyhan, track and field
Chelsea Cheung, soccer
Colin Dale, fencing
Matt Dans, swimming
Ezana Debalkew, track and field
Gabriela DeBues-Stafford, cross country/track and field
Ben DeVito, cross country/track and field
Anna Feore, volleyball
Mitchel Ferraro, swimming
Kelsey Fuchs, golf
Natasha Klasios, soccer
Craig Klomp, cross country/track and field
Vivian Kwok, badminton
Alex Lau, track and field
Robert Lawand, cross country/track and field
Kylie Masse, swimming
Gabriel Nakonechny, baseball
Keyira Parkes, basketball
Victoria Radounski, swimming
Brittany Salmon, track and field
Euan Scoffield, water polo
Graham Tebbitt, baseball
Andrei Vovk, rowing/nordic skiing
Emily Ziraldo, field hockey