Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Awards


8/28/2015

AFTER 24 YEARS OF HONOURING YOUNG ONTARIO RUGBY PLAYERS, GOLDEN OLDIES TUITION ASSISTANCE AWARD DRAWS TO AN END

Alex Buchanan, Rugby Ontario Communications


Since 1992 there have been 66 first-year students in Ontario universities and colleges that have been supported by the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award. After 24 years of honouring intrepid young rugby minds, the recipients of the award for this upcoming school year will be the last three students who will be supported by the fund created with the proceeds from the Toronto Golden Oldies 1989 Rugby Festival.

The history of the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award begins in 1986, when a committee assembled to apply to the Golden Oldies Secretariat in London, England, for permission to host a Golden Oldies International Rugby Festival in Toronto in 1989. The original Toronto Golden Oldies committee that started the tournament preparations included five Rugby Ontario Hall of Famers. These individuals started the process by collecting sponsors, including Molson Brewery and Air Canada, to cover the costs to travel and present to the Golden Oldies Secretariat. After a compelling proposal, the committee gained the approval of the Secretariat to host the event in Toronto and the Festival was scheduled for September 1989.

The Toronto Golden Oldies Rugby Festival kicked off at Varsity Stadium at the University of Toronto with an Opening Ceremony similar to an Olympic or Pan-American Games event, with a parade of athletes. This included 150 teams made up of 4500 participants, aged 35 and over, from 15 different countries. The games would occur over three days at three different locations in Toronto: Sunnybrook Park, Fletcher’s Fields, and Eglinton Flats. Beyond rugby, this festival was meant to give participants a week of fun, fraternity, and friendship.

The games played were amongst a world-class level of rugby with players in many different age groups. Adhering to a practice still observed to this day, players wore different coloured shorts with their team uniform to signify their age; the highest age that was recognized at the tournament was 70+, which was designated with purple shorts. The largest contingent of international teams was from New Zealand, and the Kiwis brought a high level of play with them. The whole tournament featured a high standard of rugby, which was attributed to many of the players being former provincial or national players or equivalent levels from other countries.

Financially, the tournament was not expected to raise money, but rather cover its costs with registration and sponsorship, and as a result, it held a non-profit status. Once the tournament had wrapped up and the costs had been covered, there was just over a $50,000 surplus, which required dispersal for the tournament to keep its non-profit status. This surplus was attributed to registration fees, as well as donations from the City of Toronto, contributions from many local and national companies, and concessions from the bars at each of the host rugby clubs. On the other side of the spectrum, costing and expenses were kept low to minimize the break-even point for the event. In the end, the Toronto Golden Oldies Festival brought in over a million dollars of revenue for the city, creating a significant economic impact from an event that was meant for participants, rather than spectators.

After all the post-tournament dust had settled, the committee had a decision to make of what to do with the surplus of revenue, including how to keep the non-profit status. After much deliberation, the committee decided on a way to help exceptional rugby players pay for their studies in Ontario universities and colleges, opting to allocate the proceeds to a trust called the
Toronto Golden Oldies 1989 Rugby Festival Legacy Fund. These exceptional rugby players were judged not only by their skill on the pitch, but also by their success in the classroom and their leadership qualities within their community.

This decision marked the beginning of Rugby Ontario’s Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Awards, with the first recipients set for the start of the 1992 school year. The criteria had been set that the recipients must be a resident of Ontario, entering their first year at an Ontario university or college, a member of a registered rugby club, have an 80+ average academically, and demonstrate strong leadership qualities. They must also intend to continue with rugby after receiving the award. The winners would receive an award of $1000 to go towards their tuition. Of the 23 years the award has been issued, 11 years have featured three recipients, however there has been some variation depending on the applicants. In 2013, there were five winners; alternatively, 2005 and 2008 each had one person receive the award.

The Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award has recognized a number of aspiring young men and women with a lot of potential. Many of these recipients have gone on to have very successful careers, both in rugby, and professionally in the world away from rugby.

Over the 23 years the award has been issued, the 66 recipients have represented 26 Rugby Ontario clubs, 10 universities and one college. The most common club has been the Peterborough Pagans, with the Kawarthas-based club putting forth eight award recipients. The majority of recipients have attended Queen’s University and the University of Western Ontario, with each institution receiving 18 and 17 winners, respectively.

Throughout the years, these young rugby players have been members of successful OUA rugby teams and have had continued involvement with their local rugby clubs as players, coaches and executives. These recipients have continued to represent Ontario’s provincial teams, with a few being selected to represent Canada, while a couple of these players have even gone on to play professional rugby in England.

Alternatively, many of these recipients have used the award to fund a successful education to put towards their careers outside of rugby. Some of these students have gone beyond their undergraduate degree to complete a Master’s degree, with many winners achieving an M.B.A., attending law school and teachers’ college, and attaining a Ph.D. in their desired field. This has launched the careers for many business executives, lawyers, teachers, university professors, researchers, athletic trainers, and many other professions.


(Photo credit: José Romelo Lagman)

The Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award has supported a number of excellent people throughout the years; here are a select few of the standouts in the rugby world, and beyond:

Aaron Carpenter is a current member of the Canadian Men’s National Team and a professional player with English club side Cornish Pirates. Aaron first moved to England in 2008 to start his career as a professional rugby player with Coventry. He would move on to play with Plymouth Albion in 2010, where he would spend three seasons before joining his current club in 2013. Aaron was also a member of both the 2007 and 2011 Rugby World Cup teams, and will play in a third World Cup this fall. Aaron won the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award in 2002, shortly before he launched his illustrious rugby career with the McMaster Marauders.

“Winning the Golden Oldies award was huge for me at the time. I was the typical student, struggling financially and carrying a part-time job just to be able to make sure I had the means to attend university,” said Aaron. “The award certainly allowed me to eat a little better, and I was able to spend a little more money on my training. With one less distraction and one less financial hurdle, receiving the award helped me focus that much more on rugby, and reaching my dreams.”

“Playing for McMaster University was my first foray into a true strength and conditioning environment, and having the opportunity to learn from Phil White and Stuart Phillips really helped to push my limits,” Aaron explained, when asked about his university rugby career. “I was pushed physically, and it was the right environment for my development into becoming a national-level athlete.” Aaron had the opportunity to train with top-level players, who were also familiar faces from coming up through the junior provincial system, including the likes of the Pletch brothers and Rob Ashwood. “It was the perfect scenario to give myself the tools I needed to take the leap to the next level.”

Sean-Michael Stephen, one of Canada’s most decorated rugby players, won the award in 2001 when he started his first year as a Western Mustang. Sean-Michael played professionally in Europe, starting in 2006 with AS Béziers Hérault before signing with and eventually captaining Plymouth Albion. He also represented Canada at the 2007 Rugby World Cup. In 2014, Sean-Michael retired from rugby and returned back home to Canada.

Aaron Abrams was a member of Canada’s national team on multiple occasions between 2003 and 2006. This included a trip to the Rugby World Cup in 2003, highlighted by scoring a try in the team’s win over Tonga. Aaron received the award in 1998 when he attended his first year at the University of Western Ontario.

Kathleen De Jesus-Gauthier won the award in 1996 when she started with the University of Ottawa to study Human Kinetics. Kathleen worked towards becoming a Certified Athletic Therapist. She would use this career path to work with the Canadian Women’s Team at the 2006 Women’s Rugby World Cup in Edmonton, where the national team would go on to place fourth in the tournament.

Nathan Baker is still an active member at Rugby Ontario, serving as the organization’s secretary and the chair of its Risk Management Committee, and continues to be an active member within his local rugby club, the Peterborough Pagans. Nathan received the Golden Oldies Award in 2000 when he started his education at Trent University. He took this education to law school at Queen’s University, and is now a prominent criminal defense lawyer.

“At the time, winning the award was a special honour, as it recognized my contributions to the game outside of just playing,” Nathan explained. “It brought home to me the larger community that is rugby.” As a longtime member of Ontario’s rugby community, Nathan explained that the scholarship helped him achieve his goals, and put him in a better position to give back to the game.

Alissa Overend received the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award in 1997 when she started the first leg of her education at Brock University. She would continue on to Queen’s University for her Master’s degree before attaining her Ph.D. at the University of Alberta. Alissa is currently an Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology at MacEwan University in Edmonton.

With all the aforementioned winners now well-established in their careers,
Katie Svoboda is one of the award’s aspiring young recipients as she enters her second year at McMaster University. Katie received the award last year (2014) along with her twin sister, Sara. Katie has represented both Ontario and Canada at a number of levels and matches. She has recently added to her list of achievements, after being named to Canada’s Women’s U20 Team for this year’s Can-Am Cup, further highlighted by being named captain for the tournament’s first game.

“I'm honoured to receive the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award. As a female in fifteens rugby, almost every opportunity is on a pay-to-play basis. Winning the award greatly helps cover some of the playing fees and tour costs,” Katie explained, when asked what the award meant to her. As a second-year university student and young rugby player, Katie would like to “continue with the Ontario Storm and eventually crack the National Senior Women lineup.” She also added that she would like to “gain experience in sevens at a higher level.”

As for her plans after rugby, Katie hopes to pursue a career in health science with her kinesiology degree, with a focus on athletic rehabilitation, ideally in chiropractics. She plans to link her two passions for rugby and injury rehab/prevention in her future career.



The Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award has helped 66 worthy individuals get their education started towards fulfilling their aspirations, with the final three award-winners set to be announced in the coming weeks. Rugby Ontario wishes all past winners, as well as the final group of recipients, continued success in their careers and education. They continue to impress their family, friends, and communities around them.

The Toronto Golden Oldies committee has been essential to the award since its inception in 1992, with original members and Rugby Ontario Hall of Famers
Ken Smith (’02) and Trevor Jones (’13) serving as the main contacts for the committee. The duo was joined by Millar Young (’02) and Jeremy Richardson as members of the group to carry the torch of the Toronto Golden Oldies Rugby Festival. Rugby Ontario would like to thank these men for bringing this event to Toronto, making it a success, and contributing so much to the rugby community over the past 25 years. Their commitment to the award has been evident since day one as a part of the selection process and ensuring that the award has lived on.

Rugby Ontario’s office has supported the Golden Oldies committee in the execution of the award throughout with the day-to-day processes and administration.
Fran Mason, Rugby Development Coordinator at Rugby Ontario, has been the longest-serving member of the office to be a part of the award. The members of the Toronto Golden Oldies Committee want to thank Fran and the rest of the Rugby Ontario staff who have been such a large part of the execution of the award over the years.


List of Recipients of the Golden Oldies Tuition Assistance Award
 

YEAR

RECIPIENT

COLLEGE/UNIVERSITY

CLUB

1992

Steve Pettigrew

Queen's

Balmy Beach

Chris Dennis

McMaster

Brantford

Todd Gordon

McMaster

Balmy Beach

1993

Glenn Miller

McMaster

Wanderers

Sam Mancuso

York

Yeomen

1994

Adam Murphy

Western

London

Sara Luther

Queen's

Lindsay

Mark Thompson

Queen's

Peterborough

Ryan DeForge

Guelph

Orillia

1995

Jennifer Thompson

Guelph

Brock

Greg Doria

Western

Irish Canadians

Jamey English

Laurier

Lindsay

David McCully

Queen's

Peterborough

1996

Susan Irving

Queen's

Brantford

Antonio Cudini

York

Yeomen

Kathleen De Jesus

Ottawa

Banshees

1997

Johanne Hardie

York

Lions

Alissa Overend

Brock

Banshees

Jamey Vickery

Queen's

Brampton

1998

Aaron Abrams

Western

Brampton

Bryn Coape-Arnold

Western

Barbarians

Peter Duspara

McMaster

Hamilton

1999

Will Junkin

Queen's

Lindsay

Steve Orchard

Queen's

Ottawa Irish

Megan Tasker

Waterloo

Toronto Scottish

2000

Nicole Nerling

McMaster

Yeowomen

Nathan Baker

Trent

Peterborough

2001

Gordon Birkett

Western

Aurora

Sean-Michael Stephen

Western

Crusaders

Jennifer Heald

Western

Burlington

2002

Aaron Carpenter

McMaster

Brantford

Mike Pletch

McMaster

London

Shannon Burton

Western

Peterborough

Amy Jordan

Western

Peterborough

2003

Cassie Emmett

Western

Brantford

Kristin Konieczny

Queen's

Irish Canadians

Matthew Mathieson

McMaster

Crusaders

Graham Watt

Queen's

Aurora Barbs

2004

Chad Harris

Western

Barrie

Jayne Cation

Western

Brampton

Christopher Racknor

Western

Oshawa

2005

Colin Brown

Western

Balmy Beach

2006

Jessica Belchos

Western

Irish Canadians

Alistair Clark

Queen's

Crusaders

Martha Goodrow

Western

Aurora Barbs

2007

Andrew Cowper

Brock

Brock

Ashley Burton

Trent

Peterborough

2008

Michael Zsolt

Western

Aurora Barbs

2009

Katie Chu

Queen's

Saracens

Celeigh Harris

Trent

Peterborough

2010

Andrew Ferguson

McMaster

Crusaders

Claragh Pegg

Queen's

Markham Irish

2011

Matt Gottschling

Queen's

Crusaders

Gillian Pegg

Queen's

Markham Irish

Byron Boville

Guelph

Barrie

2012

Ryan Brethour

Guelph

Brock

Heidi Henderson

McMaster

Belleville

Simone Savary

Ottawa

Brampton

2013

John Shaw

Algonquin

Bytown Blues

Kainoa Lloyd

Queen's

Mississauga

Catherine Belanger

York

Ottawa Irish

Karley Hayman

Queen's

Kingston

Michael Douros

Queen's

Balmy Beach

2014

Katie Svoboda

McMaster

Belleville

Sara Svoboda

McMaster

Belleville

Kylie Shaugnessy

Guelph

Peterborough

 

.




© 2015 Rugby Ontario. All Rights Reserved. Powered by CanSport LIVE.
WordPress Tutorials
DNN Support