Professor Ira Jacobs and Debbie Low with students (from left to right) Lindsay Musalem, Tharmegan Tharmaratnam and Lydia Schultz at the signing ceremony June 27 (photo by Reina Shishikura)

Boosting research, learning opportunities in sport science

U of T inks partnership with Canadian Sport Centre Ontario

It’s a partnership aimed at supporting Ontario’s top athletes and enhancing learning and research opportunities for U of T students, faculty and staff across a broad range of sport science projects.

“We believe it’s the merging of a world-class sport institute with a world-class academic institute,” says Debbie Low, chief executive officer of Canadian Sport Centre Ontario (CSCO). “This will open up doors to endless opportunities for athletes, coaches and sport scientists.”

The University of Toronto’s Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education (KPE) entered a formal five-year partnership with CSCO June 27 which solidifies a long-standing history of working together to offer high performance athletes the best resources in testing, training and evaluation, and access to new knowledge. 

Professor Ira Jacobs, dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education, sees the partnership as a natural extension of U of T’s commitment to generating and disseminating knowledge across the entire physical activity spectrum, including high performance sport. 

“We are helping train the next generation of scientists while bringing our unique perspectives, experiences and research skills to bear on the challenge of helping the region’s best athletes succeed on the international stage.” 

One aspect of the partnership is the sport science assistant program, already in its second year. The CSCO employs undergraduate kinesiology students from U of T as summer science assistants, giving them hands-on experience and a window into the world of applied sport science.

Working alongside leading scientists and researchers, students perform tests ranging from biomechanical analysis with underwater cameras to aerobic endurance tests on top athletes such as hockey standout Hayley Wickenheiser and swimmer Tobias Oriwol, who will compete in London this summer.

“This is a great experiential learning piece for the students,” says Dr. Jason Vescovi, lead of CSCO’s applied sport science research program. “The program really highlights the support and dedication that the Centre has for research and high performance sport, especially with a partner like U of T.”

The CSCO is part of a national network of sport centres that provide personal and professional services to high performance athletes and coaches, including access to experts in a variety of areas, from trainers and physiologists to chiropractors and sport psychologists.

Signalling its commitment to high performance sport, the University of Toronto last year approved the construction of the Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport, a hub for sport science research, sport medicine, training and competition that will be the ideal space to further collaborations with partners such as the CSCO.  The facility, a feather in the cap of the $98 million Varsity Centre complex, is set to open in January 2015.

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