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UCC’s first Varsity Day wins battle with the elements

Upper Canada College’s inaugural Varsity Day may have been dampened by wet and cool weather, but the home teams came out ahead in all of the league matches that were played.

“Varsity Day replaces May Day, which was held annually on a Saturday,” says Lisa Assaf, the co-president of the Blues Booster Club (BBC) along with Carita Sheehy.

“Varsity Day has been in the works for two years and was the idea of the boys to celebrate the spring athletic teams at UCC and provide a social event for the boys, especially those graduating.”

Varsity Day lacrosse

UCC’s varsity lacrosse team lost its exhibition game.

The varsity badminton, rugby and tennis teams won their Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association matches, while the varsity lacrosse team lost an exhibition game against Detroit Catholic Central High School. Exhibition games for the varsity baseball and cricket teams were unfortunately cancelled due to the inclement weather.

Mascot Ice the Husky was in attendance to raise spirits, but the planned activities organized by new Blue Army Generals Calvin Jeffrey and Max Pentland were iced because of the poor weather conditions.

The BBC set up a spirit wear table to sell UCC apparel and almost sold out of its new visors. A Meltdown Cheesery food truck, making its first appearance on campus, drew steady lineups of fans for its gourmet grilled cheese sandwiches and macaroni and cheese.

“Despite the weather, we had some hardcore fans come out,” says Assaf. “Next year we hope to have better weather that will significantly increase fan attendance.”

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Cameron White ‘15 will play NCAA D1 hockey

Former Upper Canada College student Cameron White ‘15 has announced his commitment to attend National Collegiate Athletic Association Division One school St. Lawrence University and play hockey for its team the Saints in 2018.

The former assistant captain of the varsity hockey team has played in the Central Canadian Hockey League for the Ottawa Junior A Senators for the past two seasons, helping lead the team to two successive Bogart Cup final appearances.

White, the son of UCC Prep athletic director Nigel White, is a defenceman who scored five goals and had 16 assists in 134 games with the Junior Senators. He’ll remain with the team for one more year to complete his junior hockey career before moving on to St. Lawrence.

Junior Senators head coach Martin Dagenais calls White “one of the top defensive defencemen in the CCHL” and “a great young man who also leads by example off the ice.”

White played for UCC’s varsity football, hockey and lacrosse teams and earned the Logie Medal in his graduating year. He credits much of his success to his many UCC coaches and has strong words of support for both varsity hockey head coach Carl Beaudoin and former assistant coach Mike Clarke, who he says taught him to be the kind of player that he is today.

White says his time playing varsity hockey at UCC was his most enjoyable experience and invaluable to his development as a player.

“The varsity program allowed me to learn, develop and play against stronger and older players in Prep school programs all over the States. The CISAA league is an incredibly strong league, with many players working to earn a spot on NCAA teams. There is no question in my mind that it is the best place for a UCC student to play if they are looking to play beyond high school.”

White will join former UCC varsity hockey teammates Will Reilly and Matt Baker in playing hockey for Division One universities. Reilly plays for Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute while Baker is at Dartmouth College.

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UCC wins third straight CISAA varsity squash title

Upper Canada College’s varsity squash team was the underdog going in but persevered to win its third straight Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletics Association (CISAA) championship on March 1.

The Blues were seeded second at the beginning of the season-ending tournament at Toronto’s Mayfair Lakeshore club and advanced to the final against Crescent School after victories over Ridley College and St. Andrew’s College.

“The stage was set for the CISAA championships, with UCC as defending champions very much in a dark horse role, having lost all three encounters with Crescent this season,” says coach Peter Frost.

UCC’s third and fifth-seeded players won their matches against Crescent while the second, sixth, seventh and eighth-seeded players were defeated. The Blues were down four matches to two and needed to sweep the final three, which were played simultaneously, to retain the championship.

Ninth-seeded Todd Joy and fourth-seeded Griffin Manley came through with victories for UCC, leaving the championship riding on the shoulders of the top seeds from the two schools. UCC’s James Flynn won the first game and was ahead in the second when his opponent, Alex Collins, hurt his ribs in a collision with Flynn while attempting to retrieve a ball.

“Despite attention by the Mayfair Lakeshore physiotherapist, Alex clearly could not continue and, although he gamely attempted to carry on, he was forced to concede the match to James,” says Frost.

It wasn’t the way that Flynn wanted to win the match, but it gave UCC its fifth victory and a narrow 5-4 decision to claim the CISAA title.

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Rowing team acquires barge to help with training

Upper Canada College has had a powerhouse rowing program for years, sending boys on to competitive rowing universities and even Olympic medals.

Now UCC rowers have another weapon in their arsenal to help with their training: a still water teaching barge named “Admiral” John Ashbee in honour of the school’s freshman rowing coach. It’s believed that UCC is the first high school in Canada to have this equipment, which was acquired through generous contributions from past and present members of the College’s rowing community.

Barge walkway

The teaching walkway of the barge.

The dual-hulled barge has multiple seats to accommodate several boys. It provides a stable platform for training and will be especially useful for new rowers, including coxes. It will also enable head coach Grant Boyd to walk up and down the plank so he can examine each rower and better focus on helping them with their form.

“This will help us to develop and encourage our new athletes with a safe and stable platform to work from in developing technique and learning the rowing stroke,” says Boyd.

Boyd added that UCC will also institute “learn to row programs” that previously weren’t possible before acquiring the barge.

In addition to the support of the donors, Boyd also acknowledged Ashbee for being instrumental in making the barge acquisition happen.

UCC rowers had their first race of the 2017 season on Feb. 5 at the Canadian Indoor Rowing Championships at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga, Ont. Raphael Berz placed first in the Junior B Lightweight category and Mathieu Hansen was first in the Junior Novice category. Many other rowers achieved personal bests and placed in the top 10 of their groups.

The outdoor rowing season will begin with the Hoover Regatta in Westerville, Ohio on April 22. More events will follow in May and the season will culminate with the Canadian Secondary Schools Rowing Association national championships at the Royal Canadian Henley Regatta Course in St. Catharines, Ont. on June 2.

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UCC finishes third overall in OFSAA swimming

OFSAA Swimming

UCC’s junior swimmers show off the banner they received for winning the OFSAA championship.

Upper Canada College swimmers finished tied for third overall among all 297 schools that took part in the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships in Windsor this week.

UCC, which won three Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association titles on Feb. 22, performed very well in the much larger competition held in Windsor on March 7 and 8.

UCC’s junior boys team finished first among 88 schools with 307 points. In the open boys category, UCC tied for second place with Pierre Elliott Trudeau High School from Markham with 213 points. The senior boys team was third among 106 schools with 215 points.

UCC’s combined total of 735 points put it in a third place tie with Sir Frederick Banting Secondary School from London. What makes this last accomplishment even more impressive for the approximately 20-member UCC team and head coach Vlad Roytberg is that many of the schools competing had both male and female swimmers taking part and adding to their point totals, while the Blues obviously didn’t have any entrants in the women’s races.

Watch the junior 4 x 50-metre freestyle swimming team win the gold medal below:

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Korean boarding student to play lacrosse for national team

While many Upper Canada College boys may head south to lay on a beach or north to hit the ski slopes during March Break, Grade 12 student Kyung Phil Ko will return to his Korean homeland to play for the nation’s U17 lacrosse team in games against Japan.

“Lacrosse in Korea is still a growing sport,” says Ko. “It lacks a lot of resources and the level of talent is thin compared to Canada.

“However, there has been an increasing number of Korean students learning to play lacrosse in their high school clubs. Also, there have been stronger pushes to grow the sport domestically by setting up more camps and bigger leagues.”

Ko first encountered lacrosse in Korea when he was in Grade 5 and started playing it informally when he moved to Canada to attend UCC in 2013. He joined the varsity team as a goaltender the next year and has worked hard to sharpen his skills since then.

With his parents’ support, Ko flew to Florida during last year’s March break to attend Bill Pilat’s The Goalie School. He took part in a showcase event in Maryland last fall and also played for the Toronto Beaches U19 club team.

“He has worked tirelessly at his game and he has steadily improved,” says varsity lacrosse coach Max Perren. “He was the varsity team’s starting goalie last year. He will be a captain of the team this year.”

While Ko has developed as a lacrosse goalie, he says being a boarding student at UCC has also helped him “gain independence and a world view.” The Seaton’s House member has built camaraderie with other students and become a prefect.

“The intimate feeling is what I think makes it different from other boarding schools,” Ko says of his UCC experience. “Forty-four brothers living with you, and 88 sharing the same backyard.”

Ko has also played soccer and hockey at UCC. He’s the clarinet section leader and soloist of the wind ensemble. He’s also on the executive team of the Environmental Club and is a member of the Science Club.

“Kyung Phil bleeds blue and can always be counted on to support his housemates when necessary,” says Gareth Evans, a health and physical education teacher and Seaton’s senior house adviser.

“Whether it be as a vital member of our house sports teams, providing younger students with extra help in their subjects, or providing entertainment during our family-style meals, Kyung Phil consistently demonstrates a selfless attitude and a sincere love for his housemates. Kyung Phil is passionate about the entire boarding community and, as a member of the student leadership team in boarding, has dedicated many hours to making student life on campus more comfortable for everyone.”

Ko hopes that playing for the Korean U17 team in the games against Japan later this month will be a stepping stone for him to join the senior national team in the summer. The Asian championships will be held in his hometown on Jeju Island, and it would be a thrill to represent his country there.

Ko still isn’t sure of his post-UCC plans, but they could include taking a gap year to both work and further hone his lacrosse skills. He eventually plans to pursue an interdisciplinary education at a university in Canada or the United States.

Perren believes that Ko is good enough to play goal for lacrosse teams in the Canadian University Field Lacrosse Association or at an American school in the National Collegiate Athletic Association after he graduates from UCC.

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UCC captures three varsity swimming championships

SWIMVars_CISAA_SAS4686_033Upper Canada College’s varsity swim team has dominated the Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association (CISAA) throughout this decade, and that continued with three more titles on Feb. 22 at the University of Toronto Athletic Centre.

It was “another absolutely brilliant and phenomenal day” in the pool for the UCC boys, according to coach Vlad Roytberg.

UCC won the overall CISAA boys championship for the seventh consecutive year, the open boys championship for the sixth time in seven years and the U16 championship for the sixth time in 10 years. The senior boys finished second. When combining overall points, from male and female swimmers, the Blues still finished third among all schools despite the absence of any female competitors.

All six UCC relay teams qualified for the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations championships in Windsor on March 7 and 8. The College will be represented at that event by about 20 swimmers.

Here are the top individual results by UCC swimmers:

  • Jonathan Chu, first in senior 100-metre breaststroke
  • Jonathan Chu, first in senior 100-metre individual medley
  • Toby Henderson, first in open 50-metre freestyle
  • Toby Henderson, first in open 100-metre backstroke
  • Matthew Hwang, first in senior 50-metre backstroke
  • Nathan Lee, first in senior 50-metre breaststroke
  • James Kingsmill, first in U16 100-metre individual medley
  • Joseph Samuel, second in open 100-metre freestyle
  • Matthew Hwang, second in senior 100-metre backstroke
  • James Kingsmill, second in U16 50-metre backstroke
  • Aaron Leung, second in U16 50-metre breaststroke
  • Justin Anderson, second in U16 100-metre freestyle
  • Marko Sarenac, third in open 100-metre breaststroke
  • Marko Sarenac, third in open 100-metre individual medley
  • Joseph Samuel, third in open 50-metre freestyle
  • Jimmy Li, third in senior 200-metre freestyle
  • Nathan Lee, third in senior 50-metre butterfly
  • Joshua Ngan, third in open 200-metre individual medley
  • John Babits, third in U16 100-metre freestyle
  • John Babits, third in U16 50-metre freestyle
  • Benjamin Sun, third in U16 50-metre breaststroke
  • Skylar Kim, third in U16 100-metre individual medley
  • Hayden Canavan, third in U16 50-metre backstroke

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U13A basketball team earns silver at national tournament

Upper Canada College’s U13A basketball team’s strong play earned it a silver medal at the Canadian Accredited Independent Schools National U13 Basketball Tournament at Hillfield Strathallan College in Hamilton, Ont.

The Blues’ first game on Feb. 2 was against Strathcona Tweedsmuir School from just outside Calgary. The team played excellent defence and overpowered their undersized opponents on the way to a 34-6 victory. Next up was a strong team from Vancouver’s Southridge School. The game was tight all the way through, but the Blues came out on top by a score of 46-36.

There was a more familiar opponent, fellow Conference of Independent Schools of Ontario Athletic Association team Sterling Hall School, in the third and final game of day one. While both teams showed their fatigue, the game was well-contested and the Blues won 46-25.

Those three wins put UCC in the top eight draw for day two, where the 12 team members faced Montreal’s Lower Canada College, Toronto’s Crescent School and Ottawa’s Ashbury College. The team racked up three more victories, which earned it a spot in a semi-final game and rematch against Southridge School.

The Blues picked up another win and advanced to the final against the host team and defending champion. The Blues played well and the game was tied 38-38 with less than a minute remaining. An undefeated tournament wasn’t in the cards for UCC, however, and Hillfield Strathallan won by a final score of 46-40.

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More than 86 per cent of parents very satisfied or satisfied with UCC

Parents are becoming more pleased with Upper Canada College, according to an online survey conducted last June with support from the United States-based National Association of Independent Schools.

There were 362 responses (evenly split from the Prep and Upper Schools) to the survey, and parents’ overall satisfaction with the College rose to 4.4 out of five, compared to 4.2 out of five in a similar 2011 survey. More than 86 per cent of respondents were either very satisfied or satisfied, and just two per cent were dissatisfied.

“It was very helpful to have access to these results early in my tenure,” says principal Sam McKinney, who also counts himself as a member of the UCC parent community.

“Overall we are very pleased with the results of this survey, but there are always areas for improvement and we are continuously striving to be better,” says vice-principal of advancement and strategy Jim Garner. “The results of this survey, along with those from our student, employee and Old Boy surveys, provide important feedback as we work towards setting UCC’s future strategic directions over the coming months.”

Parents were also asked to rate on a 10-point scale to what degree they would be inclined to recommend UCC. The average response was an encouraging 8.8, with 71 per cent of answers in the two highest categories.

Quality of teachers, a challenging curriculum in core academic subjects, small class size, technology/computer skill development, library and research resources, and learning spaces are among the academic and non-academic factors that parents have identified as important to them, and UCC received high satisfaction ratings in all of those categories.

When asked how well UCC was preparing their sons in 25 different academic areas, responses levelled out to an average score of 4.01 out of five. The school performed similarly well on several similar questions related to student preparation in such areas as using technology, working collaboratively on a team and being open-minded.

UCC received an average 4.08 out of five satisfaction score for the way it delivers: athletic programs; co-curricular arts programs; other co-curricular clubs and activities; individual psychological or social counseling; school safety; and academic support services.

Parents of boarding students were asked to rate their satisfaction in nine categories — including facilities, meals and weekend activities and programs — and the average score was 4.28 out of five.

Another interesting finding from the survey was that 36 languages were identified as spoken or heard at home: Arabic, Bengali, Burushaski, Cantonese, Dutch, Estonian, French, German, Greek, Gujerati, Hebrew, Hindi, Italian, Japanese, Katchi, Korean, Mandarin, Persian, Polish, Portuguese, Romanian, Russian, Serbian,  Shanghainese, Shina, Slovak, Spanish, Swahili, Tagalog, Tamil, Thai, Turkish, Ukrainian, Urdu, Vietnamese and Yoruba.

UCC aims to conduct comprehensive stakeholder surveys with employees, Old Boys, parents and students every four to five years, with periodic shorter “pulse” surveys being issued from time to time in between. The last major parent survey was undertaken in 2011.

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