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Pan Am/Parapan spirit continues to thrive at UTSC

Two of the earliest gold medalists in the UTSC pool at the Pan Am Games were Meaghan Benfeito and Roseline Filion. They topped the podium for Canada in the 10m Synchro Diving event. (Photo by Ken Jones)

The Pan Am & Parapan American Games shone the spotlight on the award-winning new facilities at U of T Scarborough. Spectators came to our sparkling new Toronto Pan Am Sports Centre (TPASC) and adjacent field and the new UTSC Tennis Centre, to watch athletes perform at the height of their abilities.

And audiences weren’t disappointed. Competitors knocked down records, especially in the pool, where swimmers set new Pan Am marks in 28 of 32 events and continued with more than 100 new records in Parapan Am swimming, including three world records. On our tennis courts, Canada earned its first-ever Parapan medal in wheelchair tennis, when Joel Dembe and Phillippe Bedard captured bronze in men’s doubles. There was also a world record for the fencing component of the modern pentathlon.

Now, as the extra seating, security fences and equestrian jumping ring all come down, what remains are amazing memories and an exciting future for sport and physical activity.

It was just a few years ago in 2010, that UTSC students voted in favour of a levy to support the construction of a $205-million sports facility. That facility is now TPASC, the site for diving, fencing, modern pentathlon, sitting volleyball, swimming and synchronized swimming, co-owned by UTSC and the City of Toronto. With state-of-the art pools and field house, TPASC serves as a node for elite Canadian athletes, as well as an athletic hub for both the campus and the neighbourhood. TPASC is exemplary of the community spirit and commitment to partnership that drives UTSC.

In the Highland Creek valley, new tennis courts for Parapan wheelchair tennis will live on to provide a place for Varsity and recreational tennis. It’s an ideal spot for the Henry Norrington Tennis Program, a free tennis camp for children in the UTSC neighbourhood.

Planning was years in the making and involved hundreds of UTSC community members—some still here while others have moved on. Chief Administrative Officer Andrew Arifuzzaman and his team worked tirelessly first to ensure the new facilities met and even exceeded the requirements of all partners, as well as making sure the UTSC campus was ready to welcome people from all over the western hemisphere as well as international, national, provincial and local dignitaries. From facilities design, planning and management to communications to campus and community events, staff at UTSC found time in their busy schedules to make sure the Games on our campus worked like a well-oiled machine. U of T House at UTSC brought the community together with some of the best seats around to enjoy watching events while live daily performances showcased the  incredible talent of students, faculty and alumni alike. Art installations, the Torch Relay, ticket give-aways and the celebration of the Pan Am Path, which runs through UTSC’s valley, contributed to the excitement.

Principal Bruce Kidd, an international athlete himself, was an avid supporter of the Games from the day he started. Through his leadership, the games were a success, as were many events surrounding them.  One such example is Historicizing the Pan Am Games, an international colloquium held in April to examine the role of this event in the Western Hemisphere.

Sport is an important part of life at UTSC, for students, staff, faculty and Scarborough residents. The Department of Athletics & Recreation, led by Scott McRoberts, played an important role in connecting the Games to the campus, and offering innovative programming that included activities such as hiking and horseback riding while the Games made use of our new pools and field house.

Students, alumni, staff and faculty gave their time, either in their jobs or as volunteers for Toronto 2015—the list is very long. While some have been featured, each individual’s contribution has made an important difference and enabled UTSC to shine.  The events may be over, but with our new athletic facilities and commitment to the health of everyone in the UTSC community, a new round of games is only beginning.




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