All posts by Elizabeth Benn

Sports Editor 2013–2015 Associate Sports Editor 2012–2013

Get active on campus

When you find yourself frustrated with academics or stuck on a thesis, take a break to explore the ample opportunities to get active on campus; they’re a great way to de-stress, refocus, and feel good. With fitness classes, gym equipment, swimming, and much more, there are on-campus athletic options to suit all interests and needs.

Fitness Classes

Drop-in

Hart House and the Athletic Centre (AC) hold drop-in classes year-round, every day of the week. Drop-in classes are good options for those looking for something flexible or free. The classes are scheduled throughout the day, and are offered at different levels of difficulty and experience. Class options include yoga, Zumba, spin, aqua-fit, and boot camp. You can find class schedules on the Hart House and AC websites.

Registered

Both fitness centres hold fitness classes for which you can register at an extra cost. The classes tend to take place once a week for an hour; sets of classes range from five to nine weeks and cost $35 to $90. Hart House offers classes in dance, scuba diving, and cycle-fit, among others. The AC has similar options as well as tennis, gymnastics, and triathalon classes.

Gym Facilities

The Hart House gym and pool have a more relaxed environment than the AC, typically inhabited by more casual athletes and gym-goers. Hart House does not have as much equipment or as many facilities as the AC, but it has a unique and comfortable feel to it. It was established in 1919 and maintains a historic atmosphere — perhaps because of its rounded leather track, which has been used by Canadian Olympic legends and everyday students alike. The gym is open for longer than the AC, and the Hart House building itself is open every day of the year.

The AC is a more up-to-date facility than Hart House, with more and newer equipment. Its atmosphere is a little intense, and the demographic tends to include more serious gym-goers and varsity athletes. The field house has a newly renovated track that wraps around a number of divided courts where practices, intramural games, and fitness classes take place. It also has many bikes, elliptical machines, treadmills, and mats, and includes a small weight training area. The main weight room is large and is often crowded. There are also two pools, multiple gymnasiums, a dance studio, classrooms, and more. Parts of the building, if not the entire building, are closed for special events or holidays. The centre also holds women’s hours. If you head to the AC during off-peak times — in the morning or late evening — you’ll have the best chance of avoiding the crowds.

Tips to stay fit

  • Drop-in fitness classes are designed to fit into students’ schedules. If you have an hour or two between lectures, check what classes are being held at that time.
  • Fitness facilities have long hours of operation so that students are able to find time to go to the gym, so don’t hesitate to go early in the morning or late at night.
  • The downtown campus is large and surrounds Queen’s Park, which makes changing up your running routes easy.
  • Intramural and tri-campus sports are available for students looking for a more casual sports commitment. Students can check with their college or division heads and the intramurals website for more information.

Tips to eat right

  • Students in residence are given a lot of food options. Try to increase protein and vegetable intake, and reduce fat and salt when choosing your meals.
  • Cafeterias on campus are packed with fried food and pizza. Try picking a salad from the fridge or a hot meal special, with well-balanced portions of protein, vegetables, and carbs.
  • Avoid sugar-filled drinks by carrying a water bottle with you and filling it up at one of the refill stations on campus.
  • The University of Toronto Students’ Union and other university organizations hold programs to promote healthy eating.

 

U of T: Home of the Blues

The University of Toronto is home to the largest varsity athletic program in Canada, with 46 teams in total. All Varsity Blues games are free for U of T students with presentation of a TCard. Home games primarily take place at Varsity Centre, the Athletic Centre, and UTSC. The Goldring Centre, still under construction, will house indoor winter sports.

Sports events occur throughout the year, but there are a few to definitely attend. The homecoming football game will occur on September 13 against the Blues’ rivals, the York Lions. Towards the end of the first semester, the Blues will be holding a toy toss during men’s and women’s home hockey games. Toys will be donated to charities for children in need during the holidays.

At the beginning of the second semester, you’ll notice a lot of pink at basketball and volleyball games for the annual Think Pink Bleed Blue campaign, which aims to raise breast cancer awareness. Athlete Ally, an initiative supporting LGBTtiQq2sa athletes, will also be hosting events, including an awareness week for all students. Visit the website for more information on teams, tryouts, and special events.

Team Preview:

Men and women’s swimming
Men’s rank in Canada last season: 1
Women’s rank in Canada last season: 3
Men’s rank in Ontario last season: 1
Women’s rank in Ontario last season: 1
Men’s swimmer to watch: Zach Chetrat
Women’s swimmer to watch: Vanessa Treasure
Coach: Byron MacDonald, entering his thirty-seventh season with the team

Men’s and women’s hockey:
Men’s record last season: 15–15
Women’s record last season: 21–9
Men’s home record last season: 10–5
Women’s home record last season: 11–4
Men’s hockey player to watch: Brett Willows (goalie)
Women’s hockey player to watch: Nicole Kesteris (goalie)
Men’s head coach: Darren Lowe, entering his twentieth season with the team
Women’s head coach: Vicki Sunohara, entering her fourth season with the team

Men’s and women’s volleyball:
Men’s record last season: 6–14
Women’s record last season: 17–5
Men’s home record last season: 4–6
Women’s home record last season: 11–2
Men’s volleyball player to watch: Kyle Fick
Women’s volleyball player to watch: Tessa Davis
Men’s head coach: John Barrett, entering fourth season with the team
Women’s head coach: Kristine Drakich, entering her twenty-sixth season with the team

 

Take me out to the mall game

The grass lining the outfield, the players on the field, and the cheering in the stands are no longer all that go into the spectacle of professional sport. While the stadium, jerseys, and food all continuously serve as essential parts of a fan’s experience, over the past few decades creaky fold-down seats have been traded in for leather armchairs; simple logos have been redesigned as ornate figures; and hot dogs have been replaced by California rolls. Are these modernizations ruining the game, or do they simply show a shift from the classical experience into the modern world of sport?

 

DORAN WOO/THE VARSITY
DORAN WOO/THE VARSITY

Old Yankee Stadium saw its final season in 2008 before the stadium on steroids was built next door. With gold accents, luxurious suites, and even a Victoria’s Secret Pink stand inside what overall resembles a Yankees-themed mall, the stadium has become as much of a spectacle as the game.

Monument Park held a special place in the old Yankee stadium, and the thought of demolishing the shrine to the Yankee greats seemed unfathomable — so it was packed up and moved to the new stadium instead. But in its transfer, Monument Park lost some of its magic. Any  remaining historical significance can be found in the stories of the players behind the monuments rather than the museum behind the outfield wall. In order to create this ornate framing of the baseball field, some of the team’s history was lost.

Some people may enjoy the decadence surrounding today’s professional sports, providing a spectacle beyond just the game — but I’d prefer to avoid Magnolia cupcakes with Derek Jeter’s face painted into the fondant frosting, and instead sit in the bleachers with carnival soft-serve in a helmet cup and enjoy the game on the field.

Dancing for the gold

Paul Poirier is a 21-year-old University of Toronto student majoring in linguistics — who happens to also be an Olympic ice dancer.

Poirier’s skating career started in Unionville, Ontario, where his family moved shortly before his fifth birthday. Unionville presented opportunities for him that his hometown could not, such as hosting a competitive figure skating club.

Although Poirier started at a young age thanks to the nearby facility, he insisted that his parents did not move to Unionville with any grand plans of raising an Olympic ice dancer: “They just found a house they liked and moved there. I was fortunate enough to live near very good training facilities.”

Stats1Poirier has a strong relationship with his parents, and attributes much of his success to their constant support, without which his training would not have been possible.

According to Poirier, skating can cost upwards of “$30,000 – $40,000 a year,” and therefore financial support from parents or other sources is vital. He also stressed that he is not a product of overbearing sports parents: “All [my parents] required from me was constant effort and that I was enjoying [skating].”

Poirier acknowledged that he wasn’t always the model child athlete, but his parents were there to keep him focused on his dream: “I had my slacky days here or there and I got my stern talking tos.” However, Poirier didn’t need his parents to hold his hand throughout his training: “For the most part, I’m pretty self-motivated.”


The team effort between Poirier and his parents manifested itself in his great success as an athlete — specifically a fourteenth-place finish at the Olympics, as well as Canadian National titles. When Poirier was 19, he felt as if he had plateaued with his previous partner, Vanessa Crone.

Stats2“I think we were at the point in our careers where we weren’t working well together. We competed at the Olympics, finished in the top ten at the world championships twice — which is a great achievement,” he explained.

Despite their success as a pair, Poirier felt he was not able to reach his full potential as a skater with Crone, who he acknowledged was a very talented skater. According to Poirier: “…[We] were heading in different directions.”

Poirier was considering taking a year off because, he said, “at 19, it was my last shot to find a new partner.” He wouldn’t settle on just anyone. Luckily, he found a new partner in Piper Gilles.

Gilles, an American-born skater, has Canadian citizenship and has been competing with Poirier since his breakup with Crone. The two are aiming for a chance to represent Canada at the Sochi Olympics. Poirier noted that he and Gilles are athletically “compatible,” and specified that they are both “quick-twitch” athletes. However, he was also reserved in his overall assessment.

Stats3“For Piper and I, our goals at this point for our skating and where our skating needs to go, we lack what I call finesse straights — we won’t step at the same time, our legs won’t be at the exact same height. We’ve got a lack of polish, but it’s something we are working towards,” said Poirier.

With Gilles, Poirier looks to the next step, which is qualifying for the Olympics. Poirier is not in a medal-or-bust mindset: “It’s really easy to get sucked into results-based thinking. Everyone does it.”

He adds: “We want to compete at Sochi. But [we know] that’s not our [only] shot at a medal.”