Passings: Mary Lyons, former women’s interuniversity athletics coordinator

Mary Lyons
Mary Lyons
Mary Lyons

York University Sport & Recreation announced Monday the death of former women’s interuniversity athletics coordinator Mary Lyons on Saturday.

Ms. Lyons came to York in 1967 after 12 years teaching high-school physical education, and spent 26 years at the University. She was instrumental in initiating and developing the women’s athletic program, recruiting a strong coaching staff and establishing an active and effective student-governed Women’s Athletic Council (WAC).

Through her exceptional efforts, York built a reputation of high achievement in women’s athletics. Under her guidance, the Yeowomen (as the Lions were then known) won a tremendous 57 provincial banners and eight national championships in 12 different women’s sports.

A graduate of Queen’s University and the State University of New York, Ms. Lyons served as president of the Ontario-Quebec Women’s Conference Intercollegiate Association (OQWCIA) and the Ontario Women’s Intercollegiate Athletic Association (OWIAA), and as a director of the Canadian Women’s Interuniversity Athletic Union (CWIAU) and the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (CIAU).

She also coached the York women’s volleyball team for seven years and was a member of the board of directors of the Ontario Volleyball Association. She convened many Ontario interuniversity sports, served on numerous University committees and coordinated the physical education curriculum in York’s Faculty of Education.

She was inducted into York’s Sport Hall of Fame in 1982, becoming the first female builder to receive the distinction. In addition, the CIS women’s volleyball player of the year award is named in her honour.

“Mary leaves behind a tremendous legacy of contributions to women’s athletics at York, as well as across Ontario and Canada,” said Jennifer Myers, York’s director of Sport & Recreation. “Her work has formed the basis of the sport system we have in place today. She will always be an integral part of the fabric of sport at York and we will miss her dearly.”

“Mary made a significant difference in the lives of thousands of women,” said Sheila Forshaw, former executive officer in the School of Kinesiology & Health Science. “She was a leader, an inspiration and a friend who believed in the importance of providing high quality opportunities for women in sport. There are thousands of young women who have been mentored by Mary, and we will all miss her guidance and friendship.”

Ms. Lyon’s family has requested donations to the Canadian Federation of University Women Mississauga Scholarship Fund. As well, Ms. Lyons has established an excellence bursary at York University for volleyball and basketball student-athletes. Visit for more information.

  • Visitation – Tuesday, Oct. 7, 4pm to 8pm
    Turner and Porter: Neweduk-Erin Mills Chapel
    1981 Dundas St. West
    Mississauga, ON   L5K 1R2
  • Service – Wednesday, Oct. 8, 11:30am with reception to follow
    St. Ignatius Loyola Roman Catholic Parish
    2300 Burnhamthorpe Rd. West
    Mississauga, ON   L5L 3T6