Varsity Blues defeat Queen’s, remain kings

The Varsity Blues men’s basketball team is aware of its environment. In their final home game of the season, a 63-48 victory over the Queen’s Golden Gaels, homecourt advantage was key.

The team trounced Ryerson in their final regular season game, reaching triple digits in scoring, a rarity in OUA competition. As the Blues had already clinched third place going into the Ryerson game, their match against the pesky Gaels was greatly anticipated. Most of the Blues players shaved their hair into fauxhawks, or “Bluehawks” of various lengths, in a spirit of team unity. Their shorn locks stood in contrast to the Gaels players, most of whom sported flowing blond hair.

While the Blues were dressed to impress, they started the game slightly frantic. The visitors brought a physical game with an up-tempo style that the Blues seemed anxious to copy. Blues head coach, Mike Katz, who was generous in his praise for Queen’s, was disappointed with his team’s first-half effort. The Gaels didn’t possess the talent of the Blues, but were exceptional at moving the ball around, even though they did not always convert their opportunities. Queen’s also featured a deep bench, and a constant rotation, while the Blues mainly stuck to their top seven players.

The first half was something of a stalemate, as both teams put up a very low number of points, astonishing for a Blues team that scored at will against Ryerson. More amazing is that Queen’s held a slight edge in rebounding, which is one of the Blues greatest strengths.

An expected strength worked against the Blues: a large crowd showed up to support the home team, but remained fairly quiet. This was despite the presence of the cheerleading squad, an engineer band that blasted wacky songs throughout the Athletic Centre, and the general misuse of a loudspeaker.

The mood was soured by the U of T women’s basketball team, which had just gone down to a stunning defeat, despite a valiant effort. The gym smelled like tears and deodorant. The men’s team seemed anxious to get the crowd into the game early, but in doing so, they compromised their style, appearing listless at times, especially in the second quarter. It didn’t help that players from the women’s team would occasionally wander into the stands, revealing long faces and sad eyes.

The men’s team, who had watched the end of the earlier game from the sidelines, seemed intent to wash away the memories of the bitter defeat. Once forward Ahmed Nazmi knocked down a critical three-pointer at the start of the second half, the sense of momentum clearly shifted. Nazmi waved his hands in a motion that suggested “on your feet,” and the crowd responded, many actually standing up. Shockwaves erupted throughout the stands. “I was just praying it would go in, so I could turn to the crowd and give them something,” said Nazmi of the shot. “The crowd just gave us what we needed, and we went on from there for a couple of baskets”.

Nazmi had knocked down his only three shots of the first half, lay-ups from in close. Nazmi admitted that he prefers outside shots, and had the bold idea to launch a three-pointer. “I really try and keep an eye out for the crowd. The crowd is, I think, after the five players on the court, the most important factor. This is why home advantage is so big for us,” he revealed.

On the next trip down the floor, Nazmi attempted a behind-the-back shot that just glanced off the rim. The crowd gasped with excitement as the team managed to score on a putback. “[I try] anything that can get the crowd revved up and get them involved […] They are a beautiful crowd, they come right back with that enthusiasm, and that gets us going. This is why I love playing at U of T,” concluded Nazmi.

From that moment on, the game was transformed, and the Blues started to maneuver the court with a newfound sense of confidence. They held the lead for the rest of the game. “I thought we did a good job in the second half, rebounding and catching the ball, and pretty much ran our offence,” said head coach Katz. “Our guys have been good all year enough to win.”

Two Blues players reached double digits in both points and rebounds against the Gaels. One was sharpshooter Ahmed Nazmi, who while battling a cold all day, quietly and efficiently added 11 rebounds to go along with his 14 points.

The other player to score a double-double was Nick Snow, earning the Blues player of the game title with a whopping 15 rebounds, to go along with his 11 points. After the game, Snow was drenched with sweat from his effort, but beamed from ear to ear, elated from the victory. Though the always humble Snow was quick to praise his guards for their clutch shots, often it was Snow’s battle for the rebound that led to his teammates’ second chance points. Snow talked about the difficulty of putting shots up from inside, and battling hard for rebounds. He clearly had the advantage of extra practice time during reading week, when the coach stressed the value of fundamentals. “It has been a point of emphasis we’ve had the last couple of weeks—rebounding, especially offensive boards, second chances, easy points,” said Snow.

Nazmi and Snow were especially needed because the Blues’ leading scorers, dynamic duo and potent one-two punch Rob Paris and Nick Magelas, did not have their typical shooting games. Both aggressive players dictated the flow of the offence. They managed to find open looks for their teammates, and clearly outclassed their opponents while the Blues played on. As the Blues started to make their shots, and even for the shots that they missed, they grabbed the offensive rebounds. They would often rip the ball right out of the hands of Queen’s defenders, and go to the net without hesitation.

The Blues changed their style in the second half, using their talented guards to distribute the ball, rather than trying to put up long-range shots. The Blues started to execute their set plays to great effect, and stopped trying to keep pace with Queen’s running game. Reserve point guard Anthony DeGiorgio overcame a rough start, shooting some clutch-free throws in the third quarter, essentially putting the game to bed.

The Blues are a team that clearly plays with a sense of purpose. The coach stresses fundamentals, keeping the game simple, focusing on rebounding, execution, and defensive intensity. The squad is resilient. They stick to their plan, and if that is not working, they find a new way to attack their opponents, and exploit their weaknesses. They show great tenacity, and revel in their roles as hard workers and crowd pleasers. Though they lost the quarter-final to the Gee-Gees on Saturday in Ottawa (96-81), the Blues are always in it to win it, and greatly appreciate the support of their fans.

Blues bounced from playoffs

They were the top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference of women’s OUA basketball, riding a 14-game win streak that dated back to Nov. 29, 2008. They were a confident and experienced group, strengthened by their leadership and emboldened by their talent.

That confidence was dashed on Feb. 25, when the Blues hosted the Ottawa Gee-Gees at the Athletic Centre Sports Gym in a single-elimination playoff battle for OUA Eastern Conference supremacy. But far from playing like a top-seeded team, the Blues played what was perhaps their worst game of the year in their most important match as they were steamrolled 68-55, losing for the first time 2009 in what became their last game of the season.

“Ottawa came in and basically beat us up on our home court,” said head coach Michele Belanger, her voice tinged with the disappointment of a lost opportunity.

It was an uphill battle from the beginning. Struggling with their shots and consistency, they opened the game with a terrible first quarter. Costly turnovers in both zones and poor decision-making by the Blues allowed the Lady Gees to scorch them to a 17-9 lead in the first. It was the first time an opponent has succeeded in limiting the Blues offence to only single-digit points in a quarter this season. The Lady Gees employed a strangling zone defence and a swift transition game that left the Blues running around offensively and defensively.

Only after the Lady Gees extended their lead by as many as 15 points in the second did the Blues slowly wake from their stupor. Sparked by fourth-year guard Jessica Hiew’s three-pointer at the eight-minute mark of the second, the game opened up as they roared with a 12-4 run to finish the first half down 28-21.

A back-and-forth affair in the third quarter saw the Blues play tougher in the paint and smarter in team positioning. This cut the Lady Gees lead to 42-37 and within five points to start the fourth quarter. The game was still in hand and a victory still possible.

But whether it was the nerves of having to battle from behind, or the aggressiveness of the Lady Gees, the Blues fell apart at the seams in the final quarter. They first lost the on-court battles before losing their on-court composure.

“We fell apart,” explained Belanger. “They just fell apart. We didn’t close out well, put them on the foul line and they started making their foul shots. And they got a lot of shots in the second half.”

Of the 27 free-throw attempts made by the Lady Gees, who have been brilliant from the line with a free-throw percentage of 88.9 per cent, 23 of them came in the second half. The Blues by contrast shot only 58.3 per cent or 14-for-24 from the free-throw line, a costly statistic that proved to be the Blues undoing.

“They shot the ball well from the foul line,” said Belanger. “We didn’t shoot the ball well from the foul line. We didn’t shoot the ball well, period. Not sure what that’s from, it’s certainly more a personal thing than a mental thing. We were offensively out-of-synch.”

The better team won the game. Ottawa outplayed, outsmarted, and outlasted Toronto, superior to the Blues in nearly every major category and aspect of the game. They succeeded in containing Toronto’s OUA All-Stars in fourth-year Alaine Hutton and third-year Nicki Schutz, as they struggled against their shots. They combined for only 15 points in the game, a number well below their regular season average and arguably their worst performance of the year, a bitter and crushing ending to a solid year of women’s basketball at U of T.

“Overall, I’m pretty pleased [with the season],” said Belanger with a last smile. “They amounted to a lot. We just ended up falling apart and it’s just unfortunate it had to happen in this game.”

Dry Ice

Inconsistency for the Blues is like a bad penny, it keeps turning up.

In the first and third period, Toronto matched McGill in intensity, speed, and physical play. The middle stanza was their undoing in a season that ended too soon for the Blues.

The Redmen took full advantage of Toronto’s lack of focus as they scored three second-period goals en route to a 6-3 series-clinching win at Varsity Arena on Saturday night.

“We held the play for a good portion of the game but silly mistakes got the best of us,” said Blues forward Joel Lenius. “I thought we played a good 40 minutes but it’s the other 20 minutes, where we didn’t play our best, that kind of caught up to us.”

McGill had the upper hand in the battle of special teams. In game one, of the best of three, the Redmen scored three power-play goals in a 3-2 win last Wednesday night.

On Saturday, the visitors converted on two of five power plays while the Blues went scoreless in seven opportunities.

“We had a really good year as far as penalty-killing went,” said Toronto head coach Darren Lowe. “When you get to this part of the season, it’s special teams that win and lose games for you and unfortunately, we didn’t do as good a job on our penalty-killing or our power play […] and that’s the difference in the hockey game.”

The winning goal came on the power play at 6:50 of the second period when Eric L’Italien jammed a rebound through the legs of Blues goalie Russ Brownell.

The Redmen opened the scoring at 3:41 of the first period when Andrew Wright beat Brownell with a wrist shot that hit the right post and went in.

Blues rookie Byron Elliot had a chance to tie the game three minutes later. He intercepted a McGill pass in the slot but couldn’t finish.

The Redmen made it 2-0 at 12:43 when Guillaume Doucet found himself alone in the goal crease. A pass squeaked between Brownell’s legs and the right post as Doucet tapped the puck into the empty net.

Toronto responded with desperation, as Elliot scored a much-needed goal at 14:32 to cut the lead to 2-1.

Andre Picard-Hooper and Marko Kovacevic also scored for the Redmen in the middle stanza.

Brownell allowed three goals on nine shots, as Lowe yanked him at the end of the second in favour of Andrew Martin.

“I’m sure [Brownell] might have been a little tense coming home down a game,” Lowe said. “Sometimes it just doesn’t go your way […] I can’t say enough about the way he played for us this year. He was fabulous.”

Goals by Sean Fontyn, in the last minute of the second and Claudio Cowdrey, early in the third made the score 5-3.

The Blues thought they narrowed the game to 5-4 with 15 minutes remaining when the puck appeared to cross the line, but the referee waived it off.

“For sure the puck was in the net,” Lenius said. “The puck bounced off the goalie’s glove and I pushed it in over the line.”

The Blues pressed the issue, but McGill goalie Kevin Desfosses made some big saves, including a right leg stop on a breakaway for Toronto forward Joe Rand with 1:40 left in the third.

“[Desfosses] joined us at Christmas time and he has given us some stability in the net,” said McGill head coach Martin Raymond. “Having him down the stretch has helped as we keep going [to the next round].” Desfosses stopped 23 for the win.

The Blues pulled their goalie with 1:29 remaining, but it was too little too late.

Vincent Lambert iced the game with an empty netter.

“The guys really battled hard in the third period,” Brownell said. “Our guys never quit. That’s one thing that characterizes our team: the guys never give up.”

GC elections lack accessibility, says candidate

Joeita Gupta already knew that very little of U of T was designed, physically or philosophically, with any regard for students with disabilities. Gupta, the current VP internal of the Association of Part-time Undergraduate Students, is running to be one of the eight student representatives on U of T’s 50-member Governing Council next year. She is visually impaired and needs an attendant when she visits classrooms or distributes campaign materials.

But the going rate for an attendant is $25 an hour, and the election regulations indicate that, as a campaign expense, this money had to come out of her own budget, capped at about $400.

The GC elections committee strictly prohibits candidates from spending more than their budget cap, which is determined by the size of their constituency. (For full-time undergrads, the cap is $2,000.) The rules are very specific, going so far as banning the use of any resource candidates normally have access to through university organizations, even a laser printer or photocopy machine.

As for why Gupta needs a professional attendant, it only took a few minutes of trying to negotiate The Varsity’s incredibly inaccessible office space (which Gupta charitably called a “labyrinth”) to see how much skill it takes. Gupta added that relying on volunteers left her at the mercy of other people’s schedules, a loss of independence that is not factored in to the university’s policies on accommodation.

At the all-candidates’ meeting on Feb. 12, Gupta asked whether her attendant costs were be counted against her campaign expenditures. At press time, she is still waiting for an answer.

Nancy Smart, the chief returning officer tasked with conducting the election, told The Varsity that Gupta had asked only about GC’s policy regarding accommodation. Smart said she looked into the issue, did some research, and advised Gupta to contact U of T’s Accessibility Services office.

Gupta said she was already aware of the policy, and that she was not interested in using Accessibility Services. She said AS was already overstrained, understaffed, slow, and focused on academic needs irrelevant to the sorts of activities she does on the campaign trail.

“GC should have a plan for students who need accommodation,” Gupta said. “By the time all this is dealt with, the campaign period will be over.”

Framing her own difficulties as part of a large pattern of disregard for students with disability, Gupta identified a tendency at U of T to treat such students on a time-consuming, clinical, case-by-case basis, rather than make universal accessibility a principle from the ground up.

“I don’t think people sit down and conspire to exclude anyone. They inherit systems with exclusivity built into them.”

She pointed to the school’s recent decision to make Accessibility Services a subsidiary of Health Services as a clear sign. “Putting Accessibility Services under Health Services leads to treating disability as unhealthy. Instead of universal accommodation, we get individual attention as though it’s a matter of patient care.”

Jeff Peters, the governor Gupta hopes to succeed, knows these hurdles well. Peters speaks through an interpreter when he addresses council. Because of the extra time this takes, Peters has been cut off several times during council meetings, before finishing what he had to say. Senior members of the administration have advised him to submit written statements instead of addressing the council verbally, but Peters called this an unfair demand that would restrict his ability to act during meetings. He said his request for accommodations was only approved recently.

The right to argue about the “right to life”

It is with considerable reluctance that I find myself writing this letter. I have been a pro-choice activist for 20 years, and remain passionate about this issue. But I think the Federation is making a terrible mistake supporting student unions that deny common resources to pro-life groups on Canadian campuses.

It is a mistake for two reasons. One, it is fundamentally wrong. As much as we may personally oppose their point of view, the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms gives them every right to express it and proselytize to other students. Two, it is a strategic error; by your actions, you do harm to the pro-choice movement.

Let’s deal with the first point. We live in a free country, and among our fundamental freedoms are freedom of conscience and freedom of speech. This means in effect that we can adhere to any belief system or moral code, and that we have the right to freely speak about and publish it, provided it does not promote hate against an identifiable group.

While undoubtedly there are individual exceptions, the pro-life movement as a whole does not promote hatred. They argue that a fetus is a person, even blessed with a soul, and as such has an absolute right to life. Consequently they equate abortion with murder. They are sincere in this belief. Personally, I think this is a deeply problematic—I would even say fantastic—notion. And personally, I believe that it is a travesty to suggest that a fetus has rights that are equal to, or surpass, those of an adult citizen of this society.

That said, I will also candidly admit that I’m glad they raise the ethical questions they do. While we disagree, their arguments about the definition and value of human life are legitimate additions to our ongoing attempts to understand the human condition. We lose nothing considering these arguments. And through this conflict they keep our side intellectually sharp and help us avoid complacency.

My personal and vehement disagreement does not lead me to think I have the right to silence them, nor to deny them the right to any public platform that we pro-choicers have a right to. By denying pro-life groups the chance to take part in public debates on campus, by denying them the resources available to other student groups, you have infringed on their fundamental right to free speech.

Here’s the thing about rights: it’s not as though they’re personal. They’re not things we can hold close to our chests to protect. We all share our fundamental rights, equally.

And that brings me to my second point. The last thing you want to do is endanger the rights to free speech that pro-choicers have and exercise. If our opponents’ rights can be infringed upon, so can ours. Is it so hard to imagine some kind of adverse official reaction to the blow against pro-life groups, leading to a debate-quashing notion of “fairness” that would leave campus a controversy-free zone?

Moreover, you have managed to do the pro-lifers a great favour—you’ve made them martyrs. For now they can legitimately claim to be the underdogs, and their fundamental right to speak on campus on an equal footing with other students has been taken away. That will only enhance the appeal of their message.

Worse, the actions of these student unions give the impression—whether true or false—that pro-choicers are unwilling to meet in open intellectual combat and defend our position. Ladies and gentlemen, we should welcome the chance to debate them in public, at any and every opportunity. Make them defend their nonsense in a public forum. Ultimately, their belief that women should not be in control of their own bodies is insupportable, and in a modern liberal democracy will not become a majority position. Don’t be afraid—be eager for the contest!

So I ask you to reconsider your position. Denounce any student unions that deny pro-life groups equal status with other student groups. The same Charter that was instrumental in overturning abortion laws maintains the right of Canadians to disagree with that ruling. And indeed, I would argue that same Charter gives young people entering the intellectual ferment of university life a right to hear both sides of this vitally important issue.

Nick Van der Graaf is a Toronto writer.

Council votes down ancillary fee hikes

Students won’t see a rise in compulsory, non-academic fees above the usual indexes next September, the Council on Student Services decided on Friday, Feb. 27.

COSS voted down three motions that combined would have boosted 2009-10 student fees by at least $12.59.

Ancillary fees cover facilities such as the Hart House theatre, the Athletics Centre, and the university health clinics. By Ontario law, all hikes to compulsory, non-academic fees must be approved by a council where students are a majority—at U of T, that’s COSS.

“We heard a lot about how the economic crisis is affecting the university, but students aren’t immune to the crisis and we shouldn’t subject them to an increase,” said John Paul Cervas Catungal, COSS member and executive-at-large at the Graduate Students’ Union.

“If the university is really committed to its services, it should cover a larger portion of the costs,” he said.

The motions for raising fees came from the Faculty of Physical Education and Health, Hart House, and Student Life Programs and Services. Hart House, seeking the smallest increase at $0.46 for full-time St. George students and nine cents for part-time students, will lose the most by the economic turmoil. Beginning April, it will no longer receive its endowment payment from the university.

David Scrivener, COSS member and VP external at UTSU, said pocket change had little to do with the motion’s failure. “It was more the demand for a 2 per cent permanent increase. This would be in addition to the consumer price index or the U of T index, which Hart House already gets.”

The university provides facilities like Hart House with the higher of the CPI rate or the UTI rate. Each index is based on yearly inflation rates for specific goods or services.

Ken Brocklehurst, director of finance and information technology at Hart House, said the facility has already made several cutbacks to program availability and staffing levels, even as costs keep rising.

“We still have a temporary three-year amount that we will receive, but that’s nowhere near the amount we need,” said Brocklehurst.

Most students shot down the Phys Ed faculty’s motion because of the extra ancillary fees it received last year to build the Varsity Bubble.

The final proposal from Student Life also failed to strike a chord with students.

“We like the idea of increasing things like health and psychiatric services but there were aspects of the budget we didn’t agree with and it was all or nothing,” Scrivener said.

Stage combat

The annual U of T Drama Festival staged original student-written plays over three nights at Hart House Theatre. The festival was adjudicated by playwright and acting instructor Ron Cameron-Lewis, and awards were handed out at the closing ceremony on Saturday evening. Theatre critics from The Varsity took in the entire festival, and here’s their verdict.

Crosses (UTSC Drama Society)

Rating: VV

A girlfriend and boyfriend spend twenty minutes mustering the courage to open an envelope containing the results of his HIV test. Unfortunately, writer/director Jon Mandroso’s dialogue and staging, striving to be naturalistic, is painfully monotonous, and the actors seem to be trying to avoid disturbing the deadly seriousness of the situation rather than exploring it. Any interesting moments between the couple are deflated by the interruptions of a ghostly ex-boyfriend narrator, who floats unobserved around their living room, lamenting his role in bringing them to grief like a junkie Scrooge.


Whodunnit? (SMC Drama Society)

Rating: V

This parody of a parody goes half-assed on the one element that might have made it enjoyable—camp. Writer/director Andrew Pignataro borrows every convention possible from Clue, with characters like Professor Peach and a suitcase containing candlestick, rope, and their usual companions. If that’s too unpredictable for you, the killer’s identity is revealed minutes after he strikes. Since Whodunnit? painstakingly avoids originality and suspense, the production may as well have committed to cheesiness, but most of the performances are too bland to do anything but let the script speak for itself.


To the Audience With Sincerity (Victoria College Drama Society)

Rating: VVVv

This play contrasts its protagonist’s ability to communicate with an audience with his inability to connect to “real” people. Peering overtop his dorm room desk directly into the pit, the shaggy-bearded Allen speaks with the superfluity of big words and lack of common sense which tradition demands of philosophy students. However, it becomes apparent in the following scenes with his roommate and girlfriends that his search for clarity is undermined by a nagging belief that life ought to be too complicated for anyone to understand. An inviting set and lots of affably crude humor help bring Allen’s story down to earth.


The Man With the Leek in His Cap (UTM Drama Club)

Rating: VVVv

This delightful piece of strange Canadiana was extremely pleasant to watch. Beginning around a campfire, a narrator tells the story of Captain Daffyd ap Griffith, feared pirate of the Canadian seas, whose most astonishing accomplishment was stealing all the wheat in Saskatchewan without ever coming ashore from his boat. Filled with great characterizations, amazing feats of physical prowess during the well-choreographed fight scenes, and a surprise appearance by Pierre Trudeau himself, the show makes the viewer want to make love in a canoe. While problems with comic timing hampered the play, on the whole it was a timely and well-performed piece of original theatre.


Smart Food (UTM Drama Club)

Rating: VVV

This existential drama, a two-hander excellently executed by Brandon Gillespie and Hannah Drew, with help from a prop skeleton, speaks well to a university crowd. What are we supposed to be doing with our lives? The twenty-something Florence doesn’t know, and neither does his skeletal friend Frasier. Various elements of theatre of the absurd and a Beckettian twist were enjoyable to watch, and the actors’ vocalizations were impressive. It takes a lot to command the stage with nothing but a skeleton to rely on, but they gave it an admirable go. The physical gags and over-the-top acting took a toll on the viewer, but the performances were strong and the characters well-defined. —MM

The People v. Congressman Michael Campbell (SMC Drama Society)

Rating: VVV

Everyone loves some anti-Americanism now and again, and this show has it in droves. When Congressman Campbell (R.J. Hatanaka) is accused of murdering one of his aides, a corporate-sponsored show trial ensues. Writer/director Nicholas Hume presents a mockery of justice that’s funny in a sketch comedy sort of way, but drags on too long at times. Hatanaka was wonderful as the gun-loving all-American politician, and the accusations made to the prosecution of being both homosexual and of hating America were all too real. Some inconsistencies marred the script—referring to the Congressman as ‘Senator,’ the inexplicable British accent of the presiding judge, and the Southern accent on William Howard Taft (he was from Ohio). Had the script been tighter, it would have been much funnier, but it certainly had its funny moments despite.


Prof drops pants

Few profs do a better job than Doug Richards at disproving the old line “those who can’t do, teach.” A doctor specializing in sports medicine, Richards’s patients have included the Toronto Raptors and other national teams. But he is also a distinguished researcher, a much-loved lecturer, and the medical director of U of T’s David L. MacIntosh Sport Medicine Clinic. And he’s good at it.

Nominated by his students for TVO’s Best Lecturer award, Richards is “extremely competent—it’s always impressive having him as a lecturer,” says Marko Balan, a student of his. “He does a good job of presenting topics from different perspectives, so students can understand them, using different methods of explaining.”

In one class, Richards jumped up on a table and dropped his pants, revealing biking tights. He then proceeded to chalk out a diagram, on the tights.

“I’m pretty informal,” Richards said. “I don’t stand still behind a podium, that’s for sure.”

One of Richards’ greatest strengths is his ability to contextualize concepts, which is helped by his incredible range of knowledge and interests. He went to medical school in 1975 for neurosurgeory, but discovered that it wasn’t physical enough for him.

“I was a bit of an oddball, in terms of my interests, because although I was interested in biological sciences I was very physical in my nature. Aptitude tests in high school always said I should be an engineer,” said Richards. After he finished medical school, he went back to study math and computer science. It was while he was working at U of T Health Services that he treated Varsity Blues athletes, and became interested in sports medicine. He said it appealed to his “suppressed engineer,” because it’s “very physical, three-dimensional, spatial stuff.”

Now Richards is considered one of the grandfathers of the discipline. He’s been a team doctor to the Varsity Blues since 1984, and to multiple Canadian teams since 1987.

Richards said his greatest challenges are “some of the subjects I teach, which in and of themselves can seem somewhat esoteric and specialized, like who cares, whatever.” This is where his broad background comes in handy. “Because I’ve studied math, and physical sciences, and biological sciences, and I’m in sports, I can take something like elasticity and viscosity—which sounds boring, and it is, unless you’re an engineer, but it’s relevant to how people behave when they stretch.”

Richards genuinely loves teaching, and is passionate about his subjects. “I’m teaching about how to be physically active and healthy,” says Richards, “I’m pumped about it, I come to work pumped.”