students standing on a field with long shadows

Fall 2020

Carla Di Fillippo headshot

Upper School Athletics Program
Ms. Carla Di Filippo, US Athletic Director

It is hard to find the words to describe the sheer joy of seeing and interacting with students on the Havergal campus. The friendly faces, encouraging words and positive energy of young people was missed last spring. The start of the 2020 school year was, as expected, different from any other year. COVID-19 is providing us with an opportunity to learn, grow, adapt and challenge our traditional thinking. The Athletics Program, just like all stakeholders at Havergal College, embraced these challenges and provided one-of-a-kind programming to all students with a focus on physical activity and wellbeing in a safe environment.

One highlight of this programming includes the installation of a nine-hole disc golf course on our campus. For those that are new to disc golf, the sport is played similarly to golf. The goal is to throw a disc from a tee pad into a basket (50-100 metres away) in the lowest amount of throws. For those students who enjoyed the sport, I encourage them to research some of the fantastic courses available in the City of Toronto parks. All you need is a few discs!

Havergal also participated in the CISAA Cross Country pilot, where interested students ran between 2.5 and 5 km against Branksome Hall. This COVID-19 safe race allowed students from each school to run the same distance but at different times. Many student volunteers and Prefects came to the event to cheer on the athletes from both schools. I am proud of the runners who came out to race and of our student leaders who provided positivity and encouragement to the athletes. Both the runners and volunteers’ actions reminded me of the critical skills taught in our Teammates for Life (T4L) program. T4L’s goal is for students to demonstrate the knowledge that selfless, authentic and team-first values and behaviours will allow them to navigate their relationships and times of adversity with courage, composure and an understanding that supporting others will positively contribute to their growth and development.

By reading this issue of the Gator Zone, you will see that despite the challenges of COVID-19, sport is thriving at Havergal. Yes, it is different. But through this difference we are learning how to adapt, the continued importance of physical and mental wellbeing and just how much we miss the competition.

I wish you all a safe and enjoyable Winter term.

Be well,

Ms. Di Filippo
Anna Bartlett headshot

Junior School Athletics Program
Ms. Anna Bartlett, JS Athletic Director

As the leaves have been blown off the trees, the Junior School students have maximized their time in the Lisa Hardie Trail. All of the 17 cohorts from Grades 1 to 6 have completed the Kilometer Club Challenge during their Co-Curricular Time. They faced off cohort versus cohort in a gruelling battle to see which group could complete the most laps per student in 20 minutes. For every lap the students completed, they received a small math cube for their accomplishment. These math cubes were combined as a class and then represented in a bar graph. When data analysis comes up in their Math classes, we now have some thrilling primary data to wonder about! Stay tuned to hear more about the next Junior School activity during Co-Curricular Time—it just might involve rubber ducks.

Other highlights of our Co-Curricular Program include:

  • Ms. Read taking the Grades 5 and 6 students to play at the new golf disc course located on campus;
  • Mr. Reiter completing an orienteering course on Cohen Field with our Grade 5 and 6 students;
  • our new Co-Curricular Coaches Natasha Bussoli and Nikki Chiu working with our Grade 5 and 6 students on their basketball and volleyball skills;
  • getting the students in Grades 4 to 6 out to play on the six newly resurfaced tennis courts;
  • introducing the Grade 3 and 4 students to pickleball;
  • having the students in Grades 1 to 3 complete yoga with our outside instructor Whitney Smith;
  • watching the students in Grades 1 to 4 develop their soccer skills;
  • seeing the improvement of the Grade 1 and 2 skippers; and
  • learning new skipping tricks from our Grade 3 and 4 students.

With the arrival of colder weather, it’s important for our students to bundle up for the winter season as many of the co-curricular activities will still be happening outside. Please ensure that your daughters come to school with winter boots, gloves and hats to participate in outdoor activities.

Bring on the snow!

Ms. Bartlett


Sports Prefects standing in front of Havergal's front doorMessage from the Student Editors
By Mika Chang and Sophia Pawliw

Hey HC! We are so excited to be back! As two people who love sport and the community it brings to people’s lives, we thought that there is seriously nothing better than celebrating our commitment to athletics by bringing Gator Zone back. Even when there are some major obstacles to the playing of sport right now, the spirit will always live on and this is what this year’s athletics newsletter is all about. Gator Zone embodies the might of sport and is a record of its unforgettable moments. This year, we will explore and celebrate all of the wonderful lessons and subtopics that stem from sport: mental health, community, wellbeing and more. Gator Zone represents the home of the Allie Gator, the spirit shown every Hockey Day—a manifestation of the Havergal spirit—and we are hyped to be back!

We would love to acknowledge and thank everyone who made this issue possible with their hard work: our amazing Athletic Director Ms. Di Filippo, our awesome Communications and Marketing Associate Ms. Pink and all of our talented writers and their subjects who devoted their time and energy into these articles. See you in the winter! Go Gators!

Mika & Sophia


Sports Prefects
Message from the Sports Prefects
By Mika Chang and Amy Edwards

Gators! We are so excited to be back at HC and to be your Sports Prefects this year. Despite the cancellation of fall sports, we plan on keeping the competitive spirits alive within our ivy walls. As Sports Prefects, we are strong believers in women in sport and the positive impact athletics can have on physical and mental health. With the help of our amazing mentor, Ms. Di Filippo, and our awesome Sports Council, we’ve been able to create and organize some new initiatives such as our first annual spikeball tournament! We were thrilled to be able to work around obstacles to make this happen and are so proud of all of our Gators for approaching these opportunities with such positive attitudes. Co-Curricular Time and the recently implemented disc golf course have also allowed students to explore new passions and try unfamiliar sports. As we stay patient through these unprecedented times, we will keep our heads high, continue to adapt and hope team sports will resume shortly. For now, we are grateful to be back together and we can’t wait to see what the winter season will bring!

Mika and Amy
student running with spectators cheering her on

Running Through COVID-19
By Taylor Johnson

Despite the challenges posed by COVID-19, Havergal’s student athletes still found a way to race to the top. On Saturday, November 7, Havergal students in Grades 7, 8 and 9 hosted a cross country race in a competition against Branksome Hall. The course was 2.6 km for Middle School students and 4 km for students in Grade 9. It spanned across the Havergal campus, including the fields at both our Junior and Upper Schools and the Lisa Hardie Trail. Upholding COVID-19 safety protocols was a top priority: runners were to maintain distance, sanitize and wear masks until the race began. While running the race, runners’ starts were staggered by 30 seconds and volunteers helped monitor their finishes.

Havergal’s Gators showed their talent with perseverance and pace while running a difficult course. Some top finishes: (Grade 7) Macy O’Brien, Rachel Paton and Alex Kent; (Grade 8) Audrey Gage, Gisèle Schulte-Hostedde and Sarah Keddie; and (Grade 9) Lily Matthews, Neve Padulo and Nicole Stanley. These successes are truly impressive, yet the biggest success was our ability to get out and be active with friends in a safe way.

The amazing weather, volunteers, runners and spectators created a super fun atmosphere for the race. Although the course was challenging, the participants enjoyed finishing the course and spending time with other students outside of school in a safe manner. Kate Grazter, in Grade 8, highlights the importance of having the opportunity to run in a race with her friends during the pandemic: “For a moment I felt like it was the same before 2020 and it was so fun remembering the times I ran almost the exact same route in years prior.” Several of the runners have been involved with cross country in the past, so this opportunity to compete was refreshing as multiple sports have been suspended due to COVID-19. This was the first competitive sports event that Havergal College has been affiliated with since the pandemic and its success marks a promising future for athletics at the school during these unpredictable times.


Grade 11 Spikeball winners
Senior School Spikeball Tournaments
By Mckenna Reardon

Havergal, like all other schools, has undergone a complete makeover this year. We’ve had to adopt both a new schedule and environment, yet that doesn’t stop us from including our beloved activities that existed pre-pandemic. Upper School students participate in the new Co-Curricular Time once in every four-day cycle, which has introduced us to the extremely popular game spikeball. The Sports Council brought the game to Havergal after working hard to find ways in which they can implement sports safely during COVID-19. Spikeball is designed to be safe and students are really enjoying it. Earlier this fall, the Sports Prefects hosted lunchtime spikeball tournaments for students in Grades 10 to 12: each participant paired up with someone in their cohort and remained partners for the entirety of the tournament.

The Grade 12 cohort participated in the first tournament. Congratulations to our Grad champions Maya Rao and Sydney Patterson! The winners in Grade 11 were Amy Soetikno and Sarah Forestell and the winners of the Grade 10 tournament were Natasha Sturdee and Sophie Hodgson. The Sports Council received overwhelmingly positive feedback from participants, with many of the girls speaking to the fact that it reminded them of the sports that they couldn’t play right now. Students also said that even though it was a competitive tournament, it was not daunting because everyone was just learning how to play. Win or lose, spikeball is a great way for our community to come together and enjoy each other’s presence while remaining safe.
disc golf course

Disc Golf Course
By Brooke Lobb

Whether it be changes to the buildings, differences in student life or the introduction of co-curricular activities, our campus has undergone many changes this year to adapt to pandemic-related protocols. This includes a new 9-hole disc golf course that tours the campus, implemented over the summer by Ms. Di Filippo. Disc golf combines both golf and ultimate Frisbee, allowing students to be outside playing sports with their peers while staying socially distanced and COVID-19 safe. The student body is able to engage in the course during their Co-Curricular Time, as well as recreationally at lunch or breaks. The Upper School community applauds the Havergal Athletics Faculty for their adaptation and perseverance in such innovative ways this year. This disc golf course arose from a tough situation and will serve as a reminder of Havergal’s resilience and commitment to the wellbeing of students.


students playing volleyball in a gym
Co-Curricular Time
By Kiki Craig

After an eventful 2019-20 school year full of surprises, we welcomed each other back to campus, but with some changes. One of these revisions is the newly implemented Co-Curricular Time, which occurs once in every four-day cycle. This time in our schedules is dedicated to students exploring various activities that they might otherwise have never tried. Activities range from practising yoga to learning Scottish dancing and drawing caricatures. Not only is this time a great way to get some physical or artistic activity in your day to release endorphins, but it is also a great break from stress and work. During this time, cohorts have the opportunity to help strengthen bonds and allow for the exploration and learning of each other’s interests. After a refreshing workout, an exciting game of disc golf or a captivating session of monologues, students go back to their schoolwork with a new mentality and a calmer approach. Since sports teams have been cancelled this fall, athletes at Havergal rejoice in having time to compete and play within their cohorts. With drama plays and music performances also being on hold, students are loving this time as an artistic outlet. The new schedule has been a success and we are all so excited to see how Co-Curricular Time evolves!
students using an outdoor classroom

Student Wellbeing and the Semestered School Year
By Ally Panos

As we reach the fourth month of the new school year, it’s important to take a step back to self-evaluate our wellbeing. Easing into schoolwork and other commitments after a long break can be difficult as is adjusting to the new learning system Havergal has offered due to COVID-19. Semestered schooling is new for many students who have been familiar with taking all of their classes throughout the entire school year. With their courses split up between two semesters, it’s understandable that many students may find the jump unfamiliar and overwhelming as the learning may be at a faster pace. However, Havergal has taken measures to help ease students into the semestered system by adding flex blocks to half of the morning. A flex block provides a different, online method of learning to students, allowing them to challenge their thinking in new ways, endure less repetitive schedules and receive extra help or time to catch up on work. Havergal offers virtual Wellbeing Time to reduce stress in students in the morning and Co-Curricular Time to allow students to bond with their classmates and relieve some stress while participating in safe activities. Virtual Wellbeing Time is used to discuss students’ thoughts and become self-aware of their current mental health. They can check up on their wellbeing in a group setting—such as through a discussion on issues as a class—and bond with their cohort. Havergal’s adaptive response to COVID-19 has successfully helped students navigate their way through a new semestered system and, by doing so, it has positively influenced their wellbeing.
silhouette of female baseball players

COVID-19 and Sports: How the Pandemic Affects Young Athletes
By Emma Wagman

Just like everything else during the pandemic, you don’t realize how much you depend on something until it’s taken away from you. The same goes for athletes, who took sports for granted pre-pandemic. Athletics not only improves health, but it also provides young people with an outlet for the stresses of our everyday lives and the ability to socialize, all while engaging in an activity that they love. While we play, we are able to leave our mental baggage at the door and have some fun. Sports keep us sane and active and helps us develop a part of our identities.

COVID-19 has caused a great deal of uncertainty and stress for youth all around the world. Many young athletes have lost the ability to play their sport, with no indication of when they may be able to continue to train. Others might be lucky enough to have the ability to practise their sport, but the rules and regulations are making it difficult to enjoy it as much as they did before. According to Dr. Rob Bell, a sport psychology coach, “The way many athletes cope with life is through their sport. If sport is okay and [they] are performing well, then life more easily works itself out. Once we remove [their] primary coping skill of sport, then [they] are now forced to deal in other ways, and often lack those other coping skills.”

With the global shutdown of youth sports, athletes everywhere are affected. Not only are they experiencing heightened stress and anxiety, but they’ve also lost their outlet for managing new stress levels. If you know a young athlete struggling to stay positive and resilient amidst the uncertainty of COVID-19, here are some tips and resources to help them stay positive, happy and healthy:

  • Allow them to grieve, then help them to create and maintain a healthy and active routine.
  • Talk to them about taking proper precautions to limit the spread of the virus and use lessons from sports to guide them.

Being an athlete in COVID-19 is tough. But if there is one thing that we learn as athletes, it’s to rise to the challenge, whether big or small, precedented or not.
graphic of a female athlete and a male athlete with the words "Gender Inequality in Sport" written on it

The Fight for Equality Continues
By Victoria Stanley

The year 2020 has been one of social movements. One could almost say the general theme is fighting for rights, equality and justice. However, inequalities in society, specifically in the sports industry, continue.

Besides the volume of research that has been done on unfair pay and treatment toward women in sports, it is general knowledge that men are treated preferentially when it comes to broadcasting, money investment and overall advantages. According to The Guardian, the USA Women’s Soccer Team earns half of what the men’s team makes, despite the women’s team being far more successful than the men’s. The USA Women’s Team has accomplished four World Cup titles (twice in a row), while then Men’s National Team didn’t even qualify.

The pathway for women in sports is much less broad than that for men. There are more opportunities for men to pursue their sport at a professional level that pays as a career. Fortunately, the number of women in sports has gradually increased over the past decades; girls are encouraged to play at higher levels today than they were ever before. Post secondary leagues and international professional leagues are opportunities that now exist and serve as main goals for many young female athletes. Schools like Havergal provide girls with the perfect support system for them to grow to love and excel in athletics.

While equality has yet to be reached, today’s society portrays much more effort to empower women through sport. Hopefully, one day all women will be given the equal treatment they deserve. As Serena Williams, professional tennis player and former world top ranking player in women’s singles, said, “You have to believe in yourself when no one else does.”


headfirst logo and student portrait—Concussion Awareness with Abby Lechtzier
By Anna Dobrowolski

Abby Lechtzier, a Grade 12 student, has suffered from six concussions in the span of three years. Having played competitive sports her entire life, she knew how common concussions can be. What she didn’t know at the time was that they would affect her for years to come. She found the experience to be incredibly isolating and was surprised to still struggle with focusing in classes once she had recovered months later. This is when she learned about post-concussion syndrome; a condition that leaves people who are supposedly recovered from their injuries with dizziness, headaches, memory loss and trouble concentrating. Through her experience, she discovered just how uneducated she and her peers were when it came to concussions. She created the Instagram account to create awareness on how prevalent concussions are in young people and how dangerous they can be. She focuses on sharing stories rather than statistics to help readers personify the issue. She says: “It is hard to advocate without empathy and, hopefully, with the stories from people that are so close to our communities, tremendous amounts of empathy will be gained.” This account is the first step toward a society where concussions are not only dealt with from a place of understanding, but preventative measures are taken and education can happen before the injuries. If you would like to share your story with a concussion, reach out to Abby through the account. Whether you or a friend has been affected by a concussion or post-concussion syndrome, or you’re just curious, go check out on Instagram!


headshot of Pyper Sennecke in a soccer jersey
Sam Lenaghan Begins her D1 Journey with Eastern Michigan
By Pyper Sennecke

Sam Leneghan, Class of 2020, played soccer all throughout her childhood and time at Havergal. She explains that she never could have imagined not playing soccer all the time when she went off to university. Being recruited to a university sports team is an unbelievable accomplishment to begin with, but for Sam, her talent took her on a journey all the way to the NCAA D1 Eastern Michigan University team. Choosing it specifically for its prestigious soccer program, incredible facilities and the welcoming and kind coaching staff, Sam has loved every moment so far. COVID-19 may have changed the way her season looks, pushing it back into the spring and shortening it from 20 games to 8, but that doesn’t seem to be affecting her experience. She says playing soccer in university is hard work, but she has learned how to take better care of herself by being aware of when she is sore or needs a little downtime. Soccer has brought her an instant group of friends and her coaches look out for her not just in soccer, but in all aspects of her life. Being a student-athlete is challenging, but she explains how it has taught her to persevere, be disciplined and discover the importance of teamwork and time management. Sam put in a lot of hard work and practice all throughout her time at the Upper School to allow her to have this incredible opportunity and we can’t wait to see what she accomplishes. From everyone at HC, we wish Sam the best of luck throughout her soccer career at Eastern Michigan!

Petra Mattes dragon boat racing

An Interview with Dragon Boat Racer Ms. Petra Mattes
  1. How did you discover dragon boat racing?
    A good friend of mine is a breast cancer survivor who had joined two dragon boat teams, one a breast cancer dragon boat team (there are quite a few BCS teams and they are very popular) as well as a team for a school out in Oakville. My friend would share her experiences with me while taking long walks together. As I have always enjoyed paddling on the water, I was quite intrigued. Before I knew it, I was out on the water learning to paddle along with students, parents, faculty and staff from Appleby College. I fell in love! It was a great introduction to recreational dragon boat racing. This experience led me to become involved in the highly competitive international racing program. Nine years ago, the international racing program coach asked our recreational coach if he would consider lending/offering paddlers who would be interested in racing in Hong Kong 2012. I asked myself: how could I not go? This is a rare opportunity and it would be a cool experience. I haven’t looked back since.
  2. In a non-COVID-19 competition year, how do you train?
    Training is a 12-month program if you and your team want to be a contender for the bi-annual International Club Crew Championship races, which take place all over the world. This means training on the water three to four times a week from mid-April until mid-October, three to four gym workouts and two to three cardio training sessions per week throughout the warmer/hot months and committing to five to six summer weekends for local racing experiences. During the cold months, we continue training in the gym four to five times a week on our own and twice a week dryland training with the team. The team receives weight training programs from the coach. Along with Club Championship races, the international dragon boat community has bi-annual National Team races throughout the world. To be selected for the National Team, you have to attend tryouts, take fitness tests and attend week-long training camps. This regime lasts about 11 months leading up to the big race. It is very nerve-racking having coaches intently watch and scrutinize your performance in order to be considered and eventually asked to represent Canada as team paddler, yet so rewarding if you are selected!
  3. How has the global pandemic impacted your sport and training?
    COVID-19 has impacted the team training and sport immensely. The boats we paddle in hold 20 paddlers and a steer person. Because we sit very close to each other, we are not able to practise as a team at all nor compete at any regattas. All of our events were cancelled this past summer. Gyms were closed, weight training equipment out of stock everywhere and team workouts together not possible with social distancing. Much of our training was held over Zoom with mini group competitions to keep us motivated. Once the warmer months approached, many of us focused on single boat paddling and training. The crafts we paddled on were either SUPs (stand-up paddle boards) or individual boats called outrigger canoes, which both have a similar paddle technique to dragon boats. We all had a lot of fun during the summer months and with our natural competitive nature, we competed against each other with time trials on selected distances using GPS trackers to prove our times and distances.
  4. Can you tell us a favourite memory from a race?
    I have a few favourite memories ranging from standing on the podium singing our National Anthem, grinning ear to ear knowing that we as a team completed an awesome race crossing the finish line first and being totally out of breath and physically drained as I tried to pat my seat partner on the back for a well executed race. However, my most cherished memory is inching up towards the start line, looking down the glistening race course dotted with buoys on either side illuminating our race lane straight down for the next 1000 meters, feeling my heart beat, listening to my breathing while at the same time listening to the announcer edging the boats to the start line. I get goose bumps just thinking of this moment as my mind races with the year-long training while sitting among my awe-inspiring teammates, feeling their energy and acknowledging our physical readiness to race. I can still hear my words in my head: “you’ve got this Petra, you’ve got this, give your teammates all you’ve got” while awaiting the announcer’s “are you ready.” An instant later, there’s the sound of the horn to start the race. That feeling will never ever be forgotten.
  5. Why should someone try dragon boat racing?
    Dragon boat is a team sport that can fit any fitness level. Participation ranges from recreational, casual, a little competitive and extremely competitive. There are local races, provincial, North American and international races to take part in. You can paddle, steer or coach. It truly is a sport for everyone at any age and a great team sport.