Message from the Upper School Athletics Director
Ms. Carla Di Filippo
It is my pleasure to welcome you to the winter edition of the Gator Zone. Although the winter term was once again full of ups and downs due to pandemic closures, your Gators persevered, competed and, most importantly, had fun playing sports. Congratulations to the more than 375 students who represented green and gold this past term!
I would like to highlight the U14 Hockey Team, who competed in the CISAA U14 D2 boys league this past term. There is no U14 girls league in the CISAA so, when the challenge of playing in the boys league was presented to this group of athletes, they were keen to give it a go. In the end, the players gained a ton of confidence, met new students from different grades and won two games! As a champion of women and girls in sport, it was an honour to watch this group of athletes compete with the boys. To be the first girls team in this league, EVER. Regardless of wins or losses, the team had the courage to try something that has never been done before. For me, that is the Havergal way.
Winter sports teams were celebrated at an athletics assembly on March 31. With all of the sports teams present in the Brenda Robson Hall, the Gator enthusiasm was on display. Teams cheered and the Sports Council provided some entertaining “pie in the face” sports trivia. Laughter, community and a love of all things Havergal were back, in-person, and it was heartwarming to witness. The highlight of the assembly was the unveiling of our new Gator logo. When possible, I welcome our community to see this new logo on the floor in Gym C. Students were gifted with commemorative stickers and the logo will soon be on sports uniforms and jackets. I’d like to give a shout-out to the Marketing and Communications department for designing the new logo.
Congratulations to all MVP and Coach Award recipients, as well our Caney Cup (swimming) recipient Jacqueline Wong and Mingay Award (volleyball) recipient Adrianna Neretlis. Thank you for your lifetime contribution to swimming and volleyball. Please click here for a full list of award recipients.
I would like to take this time to give a heartfelt THANK YOU to our Havergal coaches and Physical Education (PE) department. The winter term was challenging with closures and many rescheduled games. To provide the best experience for our athletes, everyone had to adjust to new game times, opponents and practices. The commitment and passion from our coaches and support from our PE team with sharing space is commendable. We are nothing without our community. You make athletics at Havergal so special. Thank you.
Finally, I have so much gratitude to our Sports Prefects—Sarah and Kennedy—for your work on the assembly and the Gator reveal (among many other requests). It was an action packed term! As well, thank you to Victoria, our Gator Zone editor, for your work on this issue.
I am perhaps a little biased, but I can’t wait for the spring (and ultimate season)!
Ms. Di Filippo
Message from the JS Athletic Director
Ms. Anna Bartlett
This winter season, Junior School students were eager to participate in our Athletics Program like never before. Here are some highlights:
- More than 42 Grade 6 students enthusiastically joined Coach White’s U12 Volleyball Team and, even though they weren’t able to compete in CISAA competitions against other schools, they were able to develop their skills as they enjoyed intra-school games.
- COVID-19 restrictions once again interrupted our U12 Swim Team, but they were able to get back in the pool for practices at the end of February.
- For the first time in Havergal Junior School history, Grade 4 students had the opportunity to join a Badminton Team to learn new skills and drills.
This spring, we are really looking forward to CISAA competitions, which our U12 Softball and Track & Field Teams will take part in. Students are very eager to represent Havergal and wear their green and gold jersey with pride. We can’t wait!
Congratulations to all of our teams this season!
Student Sports Corner
A Message from the Student Editor
I am more than excited to introduce to you the winter 2021-22 edition of Gator Zone. In this issue, you will find student and staff highlights, Hockey Day news, stories of student experiences with athletic adversity, the reintroduction of a sports team into Havergal’s community and so much more.
As the winter season comes to an end, I would like to formally commend all athletes who participated in sports these past few months. Overcoming the challenges of COVID-19 and a return to remote learning was not an easy task, but as per usual, Havergal’s Gators pushed through and came out on top. On behalf of myself and the entire Gator Zone team, it has been a pleasure to be able to showcase Havergal’s athletes and their incredible athletic accomplishments. Further, it has been a privilege to write about such talented and outstanding student-athletes while showcasing what athletics at Havergal has to offer.
As we head into our spring season, we should take the time to reflect on the hard work and dedication that the staff and students of Havergal have put into making this modified season reach some level of normalcy. With that being said, they were more than successful, as can be seen in yet another triumphant and action-packed few months. Special praise is extended to the writers and collaborators of this issue who made contributions to this issue as they navigating their respective mid-term responsibilities and schedules.
Finally, thanks to Ms. D, Ms. Pink and Ms. Bartlett for their contributions. And with that, I hope you enjoy the second edition of Gator Zone 2021-22!
A Message from the Sports Prefects
Kennedy Johnstone and Sarah Forestell
Gators! Wow, the year is flying by! It feels like just yesterday we were writing about the completion of fall sports. Now we have just one season left to go. Although it has come to an end, the winter season was a great one. It started with a bang near the end of 2021 and, although COVID-19 threw a bit of a wrench into our plans for winter athletics in January, the Gators pulled through, as always. Unsurprisingly, we were able to end with a phenomenal finish. Every team had an absolutely amazing season, with special shoutouts to the U16 Badminton Team, the U16 Junior Swim Team, the U16 D1 Volleyball Team and the U20 D1 Volleyball Team for becoming CISAA champions this term!
The winter season brought a lot of excitement to us as Sports Prefects and we’re so glad that the Gators were able to finish the season strongly. Many exciting events happened this term, such as hosting championships, cross country skiing on Ratcliffe field, spending time at outdoor rinks and much more.
Most exciting of all: this year we finally saw the return of Hockey Day! After two long years, the Hockey Team and the student body were eagerly awaiting this event. Although it had to be slightly modified for only Grade 12 students to attend in-person, Havergal showed up with more spirit than we could have imagined. Whether it was cheering in the stands or back at school watching the game through a livestream, the green and gold spirit was palpable. The excitement around this day is electric and we are so glad that it has finally made its return.
Congratulations to any and all athletes who participated in sports this term. We absolutely cannot wait to see what the spring term holds!
Kennedy & Sarah
Hockey Day 2022
For many, including myself, Hockey Day is one of–if not the–best days of the year. Hockey Day was cancelled last year as a result of COVID-19 restrictions, making this year’s return of Havergal’s iconic tradition heavily anticipated. Thanks to our amazing Athletics Department and determined Sports Prefects, we were able to put on a limited capacity in-person (and virtual) Hockey Day this year. The Grads ventured down to Mattamy Athletic Centre while the rest of the student body stayed at school and watched with their grades via live broadcasting. As the big day approached, I could feel the school spirit rising even more each day. Personally, I was waiting impatiently as I tallied off the days in a countdown app on my phone. The hype was real.
To give some background on the famous Hockey Day, it’s a special event that occurs once annually. The Havergal and Bishop Strachan School U20 Hockey Teams come together to play one game to win the Elizabeth Kathleen Hewitt Memorial Trophy, affectionately nicknamed “Hewie.” The trophy is named for BSS alumna Elizabeth Kathleen Hewitt (Class of 1919), by her son and sportscaster Bill Hewitt (son of famed hockey announcer Foster Hewitt). The last time that Havergal successfully brought Hewie home was in 2016. Thus, you can understand the excitement.
The day of the game, not a single HC Grad in attendance was not decked out head-to-toe in green and gold to show their school spirit! BSS didn’t hold a candle to the spirit that was radiating out of the crowd in the Havergal stands. Even with only the Grade 12s in the arena, the energy was exhilarating. There was never a dull moment as the Grads were constantly cheering and singing their hearts out in support of the team. Back on campus, each grade gathered to cheer proudly for the U20 Hockey Team. Beats Tura scored the Gators’ first goal of the match with an amazing forehand shot, putting Havergal up 1-0 to start the match off.
In the second period, BSS tied the game 1-1, but HC Captain Sarah Forestell came right back and scored her first goal of the game with one second remaining in the period. After regrouping in the locker rooms, the Gators came back hot in the third period. Sarah scored once again to start off the third period making the score 3-1 for Havergal. But she wasn’t done yet. Sarah came back for a third goal. Yes, you read that correctly. A third goal. As the commentators so eloquently put it: “It’s a hatrick goal for the Captain! Tic-tac-toe, that’s three in a row!”
BSS came back to score one more goal. However, shortly after, Piper Nixon scored a beautiful goal to end the game 5-2 for Havergal. These were only some of the many highlights and incredible plays of the game. With that being said, if you haven’t already, you can check out the full livestream of Hockey Day 2022 here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5XNfaL77xJs.
Well Havergal, we are the champions. It was truly amazing to see the community come together to watch such a talented and hardworking group of Havergalians on the ice. Once again, a huge thanks goes out to Ms. D, the Prefects and everyone who helped make Hockey Day happen this year. To our Grads on the team—Meghan, Brooke, Kennedy, Sarah, Abby and Amy—you will be missed so much. We hope to see you next year! All that’s left to say is: “Welcome home, Hewie!”
Get Back Up!
Havergal students are back at it again! Another amazing season has passed and it’s certainly one to remember! As a new girl at Havergal, there have been and continue to be so many opportunities to try new things and put yourself out there. Walking into the first week of tryouts, I was feeling extremely nervous. I was never really a “sports person.” I ended up trying out for two sports and getting cut from one team.
Tryouts are scary. I was typically never good at sports, but I enjoyed playing them. I remember walking out of tryouts feeling proud of what I accomplished. I stepped up to a new challenge and put myself out there. I knew that my chances of being selected for the team may have been slight, but I was able to learn so many new things. Being at tryouts is almost like training with a team. The coaches are extremely supportive and encouraging. They are always suggesting new tips to improve skills and encouraging students to take more risks. The students were also very encouraging and were always cheering each other on, spreading positivity around.
The first feeling I had when I was cut from the team was that I felt that I didn’t do well enough in the tryouts. I started to think that sports were not made for me. Then I decided to look at it from another view. This was an opportunity to learn. Being cut doesn’t mean you can’t do sports, it just means there’s something else out there that will be waiting for you. Personally, I felt upset that my friends were doing the thing they love, but I didn’t have the chance to. However, I took this opportunity to improve. I focused on the areas that could be improved and set new goals for myself. To this day, I’m continuously practising these skills to prepare myself for next year.
There is always next time. The most important thing to remember is to never give up. No matter how many times you get knocked down, just keep believing in yourself. I was given the opportunity to join another team and it was an extraordinary experience. I was able to meet amazing teammates and awesome coaches. Maybe, when I got cut, it was just a sign that something else was waiting for me. Though there will always be losses, there will always be wins. You just have to push through and believe in yourself to see those wins come to life.
“You win some, you lose some.” That’s what they all say and that’s what I’ve been told my entire life. So why does it feel like when I lose, I lose everything? When you consistently win your whole life, you feel like you are on top of the world. So, when you inevitably fall, it can be hard to get back up. Although they may tell you: “Better luck next year,” or “There’s always another season,” it still hurts to come back. It can be scary to try and do something you failed so horribly at. However, what really proves your strength is getting up and trying again.
From personal experience of being cut from a team, I can tell you that it hurts to not see your name on the team list. In Grade 6, there were basketball tryouts. The one thing I wanted most at the time was to make the team. However, I had no basketball experience and I was cut.
It hurts to see other people doing the one thing you wanted, but most of all it hurts to try again. I realize that the coaches have a responsibility to cut people. The harsh reality is that not everyone can make a team. What everyone can do is try again and do their best to improve. Their best may look different from everyone else’s best, and there’s a certain beauty in that.
When I got cut, I didn’t think of it as losing, I thought of it as a new challenge, a way to improve, a skill to tackle and a lesson to learn. So, that year, I practised basketball with my friends outside their house for months. When the next season came around, I made the team. I am even more proud to say that I was awarded as the Most Improved Player!
It’s easier said than done and you might even get cut a second time, but it’s okay because that team isn’t the only one out there. Getting cut may turn out to be a blessing in disguise. You may learn that one sport may not be for you and that can open up more opportunities. No matter how many times you get cut or rejected, or you feel like you may never make a team again, you have to keep going. After pushing through my own adversity, I have come to understand that anything can be done with a little bit of practice and a lot of hope. So yes, you will win some and you definitely will lose some. And yes, your losses are going to hurt, but that’s just part of life. Just know that even your smallest achievements will always be worth more than your biggest losses.
Student Highlight: Selena Li
Selena Li, a Grade 10 student-athlete, has been heavily involved with athletics at Havergal. During the fall season, Selena joined the Swim Team where she faced Branksome Hall in a tight race. Swimming is an outlet for her to release her energy and feel free, and while the season ended short, she really valued her season with the team. In the winter, she was eager to get involved with a new sport that she hadn’t tried before: rowing. Before she tried out to be officially a part of the team, she went to the “Learn to Row” sessions to get an understanding of how to hold an oar and row.
Eventually, Selena made the team and participated in the early-morning rowing practice from 5:30 to 7 am, Monday to Thursday. During these practices, teammates would do fitness activities and, sometimes, use the water tank rowing machines as a substitute for the lake. This way they could get a feel for the water and get an idea of how fast they would be able to row.
To put what they learned in practice to the test, the Rowing Team went on a seven-day trip to Victoria, British Columbia, over the March Break for training camp where they got a sense of how to row on an actual lake. Selena, alongside the team, had an overall great time in Victoria practising and bonding together.
Selena’s favourite part about being on the Rowing Team is the sense of belonging and community that is felt with 52 girls competing together. On another note, when it comes to rowing, there is no shortage of abundance of amazing nature and animals to see, another reason behind her passion for the sport.
Selena and the Rowing Team are now preparing to officially compete at three regattas in May, as well as the CSSRA (Canadian Secondary School Rowing Association) regatta in June. We wish them the best of luck in the coming season!
Staff Highlight: Mr. Frost
Who is our staff highlight? You may see him in the Guidance Office or on the field—it’s Mr. Frost! New to Havergal, Mr. Frost works in the Guidance Department as the Administrative Assistant. His role is to assist students with university applications, organize the graduation ceremony and complete other administrative tasks. He is in charge of all Ontario student files and transcripts at the Upper School and he coaches the U20 Track & Field Team (and other teams including soccer and volleyball in the future).
Mr. Frost has been passionate about education for his entire life. Before coming to Havergal, he worked at an international boarding school as a Guidance Counsellor and Athletic Director. He has also worked at the University of Waterloo and University of Toronto in various student services departments. Mr. Frost has a Masters of Education in Developmental Psychology from OISE, a Bachelor of Kinesiology & Physical Education from University of Toronto, a Bachelor of Education from OISE and he is a Guidance & Careers Education Specialist.
Both in and out of school, Mr. Frost is a huge sports fan. Aside from coaching at Havergal, he enjoys bicycling on his Peloton and cheering on the Toronto Maple Leafs, Toronto Raptors and other Canadian soccer teams. He previously worked in Namibia with an non-government organization where he helped send athletes to the 2012 London Olympics. Mr. Frost was awarded the Rick Hanson Difference Medal award for equity and leadership development work at the University of Toronto. He truly is an incredible person with quite the backstory.
If you see Mr. Frost around the school, make sure to say “hello” to him!
Health & Wellness
The Impact of Changing Restrictions Upon Winter Havergal Athletics
After two years of COVID-19 restrictions, many Gators assumed that Havergal Athletics would have resumed to what we remember pre-pandemic. Unfortunately, hopes of life pre-pandemic were interrupted in December when Ontario’s COVID-19 cases reached an all-time high case count of more than 18,000. With these spikes in cases, many extracurricular activities (including Havergal Athletics) had to adapt to maintain the health and safety of the community.
With the increase of cases, Havergal endured a return to remote learning from the weeks of December 13 to January 17, along with a few extra days off with extreme snowfall. This time off meant that students could not practise and compete with their respective athletic teams. Many sports teams found ways to come together over Zoom to maintain their camaraderie and stay connected. Athletes found new ways to stay active during their time off. These included doing home workouts, going for walks or playing in the abundance of snow Toronto’s winter was providing. Time off from organized sports showed many Gators the importance of school athletics to them. For each athlete, it means something different: a way to be active, meet new friends or reduce stress. For all, it reminded HC athletes of the sense of community athletics brings.
When returning to athletics, coaches helped students understand the importance of making responsible decisions regarding COVID-19. This included athletes holding themselves accountable for proper distancing, mask-wearing, sanitizing and truthful screening. With these initiatives, many sports teams were able to have successful seasons with a new sense and gratitude for Havergal Athletics. However, with the virality of the new Omicron variant, many athletes had to isolate themselves during the season, posing challenges to line-ups and rosters.
Havergal’s athletes and coaches showed resilience and flexibility, overcoming challenges that changed the path to success. Overall, it was a successful winter season thanks to Havergal’s perseverance, responsibility and sense of community.