Graduate student sports league makes it easy to stay active, build communities

Girl tying shoe sports active woman

More than 40 graduate students and faculty members met on the fields near Tait Mackenzie on Sept. 16 for the inaugural event of the Grad Sports League. Four teams battled for the top spot in a round-robin ultimate Frisbee tournament. This was the first of many matches to come, all housed at York University.  

The Grad Sports League will meet once a month with teams challenging one another in round-robin style tournaments, rotating through different sports. All graduate students, postdoctoral Fellows and faculty are welcome to participate.

The league has been initiated by Professor Heather MacRae, graduate program director in the department of politics, in response to numerous requests for more events and opportunities to socialize. The inaugural tournament was a huge success and was attended by students from the Faculty of Education, Faculty of Health, LA&PS, Osgoode, Schulich, Lassonde and the School of the Arts, Media, Performance & Design.  

Faculty and grad students gather for a group cameo before starting their tournament
Faculty and grad students gather for a group cameo before starting their tournament

“I remember organizing soccer matches for our program when I was a grad student. It was just an excuse to get together, have some fun and then go out for the evening. It really helped to build a community of students and friends,” said MacRae recalling her own experience.  

The Grad Sports League provides a chance to meet new people and get back into the routine of doing physical activity, both key to mental and physical health.

“I was very excited to hear from Prof. McRae about the Graduate Sports League. With the past two years spent connecting over Zoom, it’s refreshing to meet friends, colleagues, and graduate students from other departments in-person,” said Taha Badoui, a graduate student in political science. “I thought this was a great opportunity to get moving and playing in a relaxed atmosphere.”

More than 100 students have signed up for at least one of the events so far. Individual programs can organize themselves, or graduate programs can come together to form teams of eight to 16 people. If students want to participate but can’t pull a team together, they are encouraged to come out and will be placed with other students from similar disciplines.

“With the start of this new school year and a return to in person learning I was really excited that the Grad Sports League was created,” says Christina Amaral, a graduate student in kinesiology. “It’s a great way for us to take a break from being in the lab and to meet new people both within and outside our faculty while engaging in physical activity.”

The tournaments are held on a variety of different days and times to accommodate the busy schedules of grad students and faculty. The league is recreational and open to everyone no matter their skill level. No prior knowledge of the sports is required to participate. 

“Having Frisbee as our first event with more than majority of our team not knowing how to play ultimate Frisbee was a shot that we were willing to take and just run with… we ended up with a huge team building event and just had fun with everyone there showing off our competitive side of Lassonde,” notes Kathursan Loganathan, a graduate student in civil engineering.

For those students who do not feel up for a game just yet are encouraged to come out, socialize and cheer on their classmates and professors.

“The past two years have really made it difficult to create a sense of community among grad students, and between the students and the faculty. Hopefully the sports league will be a way to rebuild and broaden our communities,” says MacRae.

Students can sign up for one or more of the remaining events: soccer, cricket, seated volleyball, wheelchair basketball and dodgeball.  For more info and to RSVP visit