York to the Power of 50: Taking action to support York hockey

In Ontario, universities now have a greater capacity to provide needs-based grants, athletic awards and academic scholarships to student-athletes eligible for financial support. 

Joining this effort, a growing group of individuals stands united in their passion for hockey and the development of future sport champions and leaders in Canada. They are taking action to raise awareness and increase private support for York’s hockey athletes, with ambitious long-term goals to turn the current landscape of interuniversity hockey at York, and in Canada, upside down.

Bob Hedley (right) coached the York men’s interuniversity hockey team from 1981 to 1983 and laid the foundation for his career by coaching hockey in varying capacities at the junior, university and national team levels throughout Canada. Alongside his passion for hockey, Hedley is committed to the pursuit of lifelong learning. He completed his doctorate in higher, adult & lifelong education (HALE) at Michigan State University. He then held administrative positions in community colleges throughout Ontario, including a role as dean of business at Georgian College in Barrie. Now vice-president of leadership at Maple Leaf Foods Inc., he spends his days championing leadership development both in and out of the company.

A certified master coach, Hedley devoted years to volunteering and coaching within the hockey community, serving as development coach in the elite Development Program for Hockey Canada, chairing numerous hockey committees and boards, and working as an organizational effectiveness consultant for his company, Hedley & Associates Inc. His passion for volunteerism did not go unnoticed – in 1993, he received the Queen’s Medal for Volunteer Service to Canada, an honour he is proud of, though he feels he has only just begun his service to the community.

Hedley wanted to take a leadership position in demonstrating support for the development of York’s hockey program. To this end, he has established the Bob Hedley Hockey Bursary through a $32,000 gift to the York University Foundation. Beginning this fall, the endowed award will help student-athletes in financial need, in perpetuity, along with matching funds from the Ontario Trust for Student Support program.

Dan Church (right) wasn’t always immersed in the world of hockey coaching. In fact, he spent the better part of a decade earning a living as a professional golfer in the CPGA. Though successful on the golf course, he made a decision to pursue his true passion – coaching women’s hockey at the university and national team levels. This fall, after several years successfully coaching women’s hockey, Church goes into his fourth year as York’s first full-time head coach of the women’s hockey team, a role created in conjunction with his secondary position as academic service coordinator.

In this dual role, Church is challenged to nurture the York women’s hockey program to develop a high performance team, alongside supporting the academic endeavours of student-athletes at the University through mentoring. He believes that students who are academically successful should be supported financially, and he is passionate about fostering academic all-Canadians in the women’s hockey program over the next five years.

“In addition to coaching the women’s hockey team, I’m acting as a bridging mechanism between our student-athletes and existing academic services on campus that all York students can access,” says Church. “The aim is to help them, not just to be champions on the field of play, but to be champions in the classroom as well.”

When recently named head coach of Canada’s national women’s under-22 team for 2007-2008, Church donated the honorarium he received for the position towards the creation of a scholarship at York, with hopes to set a positive example for his team and the York community about supporting academic achievement in student athletes. Starting in September 2007, through a $10,000 commitment to the York University Foundation, the Daniel Church Hockey Excellence Scholarship will be awarded annually to benefit York student-athletes in need who demonstrate academic excellence.

“Many student-athletes have difficulty working part-time due to training, practice, competition and travel commitments,” says Patricia Murray, director of sport & recreation at York. “The generosity of Bob and Dan will ensure that students who excel academically are supported as they pursue their degree and high performance sport at York.”

For members of the York community, Hedley believes that taking action is as simple as going out to watch York hockey games and getting engaged in the interuniversity hockey community. He says that Canada is far behind the United States in terms of spectatorship for interuniversity sports and he notes that American interuniversity sport teams are ingrained as part of the community. In addition to giving spectators a sense of pride and belonging, Hedley says increased crowds at university games will highlight the need to support our sport teams, and ultimately, interuniversity sports in Canada.

“It’s not the amount of money that people give, it’s about taking the action to do something,” says Hedley. “If you can’t give money, give your time. This is how we can make things better.”

Both donations support York to the Power of 50, the largest fundraising campaign in York’s history.

For information about supporting York’s hockey program, contact Susan Rae, chief development officer, Division of Students, at 416-650-8157, or visit the York University Foundation Web site.

Submitted to YFile by Earleen Dover, communications officer, York University Foundation.