Ontario Federation of School Athletic Associations

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Education Through School Sport
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Globe story on physical literacy

Wednesday, September, 3, 2014

OFSAA's motto "Education Through School Sport" is all about the connection between physical literacy and success in the classroom. The skills learned on the field and the life lessons learned off of it through sport are an invaluable and inseparable part of secondary school education.

A study completed last year by Rob Williamson of the University of Ottawa concluded that student-athletes scored higher in specific developmental areas than those students who do not participate in athletics.

As schools reopen their doors to students for the 2014-15 school year, the Globe and Mail's Erin Anderssen wrote an article titled, "How physical exercise helps to get students intellectually fit," which has been exerpted below. Click here for the full story.

"To prep for high-school life, incoming Grade 9 students paid an early visit to Midland Secondary on Thursday. They found where their lockers will be, were given their timetables and memorized their wireless passwords.

They also received a short session on the importance of exercise. But intellectual – not physical – fitness was the theme. They learned that classes at this 100-year-old school in Georgian Bay’s cottage country don’t just mean sitting at desk. Here, studying everything from history to calculus also includes soccer in the hallway, ultimate Frisbee in the yard, even “swimming” across the floor – some of the brief workouts known as Spark breaks.

Classes last 75 minutes, but “I really find it hard to sit for 10 minutes, to be honest,” admits Walker Hunter, a Grade 10 student who was helping to demonstrate floor swimming and other activities at the orientation. During a fitness break, he says, “you get refreshed, but you’re still in work mode, and you can start up again. It gives me time to get out and refocus.”

Getting students to focus is a perennial preoccupation, but it seems especially pressing at the moment, with grade-obsessed parents, politicians and school trustees wringing their hands over Canada’s recent slide in international math standings.

With that worry back in the news this week when Ontario’s elementary math scores took a dip, neuroscience offers this subversive solution: Cut math class to dance – or walk, skip, play catch … the theory being that whatever gets the heart pumping will get the brain humming as well.

“If you want to raise test scores, we have documented evidence – big-time evidence – that that the key is to include fitness-based activity in the day,” insists John Ratey, a psychiatrist at Harvard Medical School and a lead researcher in the area. “There’s no question about it.”

Welcome back teacher-coaches and student-athletes!

Follow @OFSAAGRAM!

Monday, August, 18, 2014

OFSAA is now on Instagram! Follow us at @OFSAAGRAM

We will be following and interacting with proud student-athletes and teacher-coaches posting and hashtagging their accomplishments. So many photos with #OFSAA and #OFSAAbound tags end up with #OFSAAchamps or #OFSAAgold!

Share your experiences with us and we'll keep you posted on OFSAA news, throwbacks, and Championship/ Festival pics!

Coaches Teaching New Coaches

Monday, August, 18, 2014

The Coaches Association of Ontario has developed a program based on Fundamental Movement Skills for teacher-coaches to pass along their knowledge to a new generation of coaches-in-training.

With the Fundamental Movement Skills - High School Kit Program, certified PHE teachers can transfer knowledge of FMS to high school students, many of whom are summer camp leaders, community centre recreation workers, and after school programs leaders, who then can pass along these essential skills to future student-athletes.

In Ontario to date 150+ schools have joined the program and over 1500 students have been trained in teaching Fundamental Movement Skills. As a result 1000s of children have received better instruction, gained improved physical literacy, and hopefully, greater athletic confidence. 

                                                                               

The program is affordable, sustainable, designed to fit into existing high school course structure, and provides students with a nationally recognized NCCP credit. Coaches are encouraged to use these lessons to develop future teacher-coaches and transfer these skills to the next generation of student-athletes.

For more information visit the Coaches Association of Ontario website, or click the links above for more on FMS and the Kit Program.

Brian Maxwell Memorial Scholarship

Tuesday, August, 12, 2014

OFSAA and the Brian Maxwell Memorial Scholarship Fund are pleased to announce the student-athletes awarded the 2014 scholarships and Ontario Awards for Excellence.

(download full Media Release)

The scholarship fund is in memory of Brian Maxwell, a successful distance runner and entrepreneur, and co-founder of PowerBar, who later suffered a heart attack that claimed his life. Brian competed in Track & Field and Cross Country and achieved success as an OFSAA champion, Canadian junior, juvenile and senior champion, numerous international marathons, and as a member of the 1980 Canadian Olympic Marathon team.

The Brian Maxwell Memorial Scholarship is awarded each year to two student athletes that will be continuing their post secondary education at a Canadian College or University, and display qualities of honesty, integrity, compassion and an unwavering quest to accomplish the best he could academically and athletically while supporting his fellow team members.

One male and one female are awarded separate scholarships in the amounts of $5,000 each. The 2014 recipients are Mark Schmidt of Stratford, and Maggie Scheunert of Ottawa.

Mark Schmidt recently graduated from Stratford Northwestern Secondary School with a 90% average. As a distance runner, Mark finished 20th in OFSAA cross country in grade 12 and 10th in grade 10 as the three-time MVP of both his track and cross country team. Mark is also an award-winning youth hockey coach and has fundraised for Alzheimer Society, Muscular Dystrophy, and St. Martin of Tours Church. Mark will be studying engineering at Queen’s University this fall.

Maggie Scheunert is a graduate of Ecole secondaire catholique Garneau and finished with an average of 85%. She competed in OFSAA cross country grades 10,11, and 12, and won gold in 1500 steeple chase at 2014 OFSAA Track & Field. She helped coach school teams, set up Nordic skiing and volleyball teams, finished third in an Ottawa business competition, first in the Waterloo mathematics competition, and participated in a humanitarian trip to Jamaica. Maggie will also be studying engineering at Queen’s University and plans to pursue a career in research and development of prosthetics. 

The Brian Maxwell Memorial Scholarship Fund also organizes the Ontario Award for Excellence that presents a $1000 scholarship to student-athletes continuing to Canadian University or College. This year, the Fund elected to recognize a record four student-athletes with this award. The 2014 recipients are Paige NockCailie McGuireBrandon Thomas, and Nicholas Vukelic.

Paige Nock recently graduated from Courtice Secondary School (Courtice) with a 90% average, overcoming a learning disability and reading disorder. Paige qualified for OFSAA cross country every year, and this year at Track & Field placed fourth at 800m and fifth at 1500m, and will compete in the World Junior Championships at the 800m. Paige organized cross country events in elementary schools and will be studying psychology at Simon Fraser University to pursue a career helping children with learning disabilities.

Cailie McGuire graduated from Loyola Catholic Secondary School (Mississauga) with a 91% average. In the field Cailie qualified for OFSAA cross country every year since grade nine and achieved success on the track culminating with OFSAA silver in steeple chase this year. She was instrumental organizing intramurals and fitness clubs at school, and organized workshops to teach skating to new Canadians. Cailie will study physical education at the University of New Brunswick.

Brandon Thomas wrapped up his high school career at Paris District High School (Paris) with a 92% average, and finished in the top-15 at OFSAA Cross Country every year including bronze in grade 10. Brandon prepared a video called “The Myth of Lactic Acid”, coordinated fundraising events for the Canadian Cancer Society, and tutored and coordinated programs for the younger grades. Brandon will study science at Queen’s University with plans to pursue a career in medicine.

Nicholas Vukelic graduated from St. Aloysius Gonzaga Secondary School (Mississauga) with a 97% average. Nicholas qualified for OFSAA cross country his final two years of high school and placed tenth in steeple chase this year. He was valedictorian of his class, traveled to Dominican Republic on an outreach mission, served as head prefect of his school’s leadership organization and won the Edward King Memorial Award for leadership and academics. Nicholas will study a combined engineering and business degree at the University of Western Ontario Richard Ivey School of Business.

“I am very proud and impressed by each and every one of the Brian Maxwell Scholarship recipients,” said Jennifer Maxwell, wife of Brian and co-founder of PowerBar Corporation. “I’m so glad that running and academics have been such an important part of all your lives. I wish you much continued success as you go on to college and beyond.”

Congratulations to all scholarship recipients and we wish you the best of luck in continuing your educations and athletic careers at the post-secondary level!

CLICK HERE for more information on the award, past recipients, and how to apply

School sports promotes mental health

Sunday, August, 10, 2014

A new Canadian study published in the Journal of Adolescent Health has found that adolescents who play team sports in grades 8 through 12 have less stress and better mental health as young adults.

Almost 850 students from 10 Canadian schools were surveyed in each grade during the five years of secondary school about their participation in school sports, such as basketball, soccer, track and field, wrestling, and gymnastics. Three years after graduation, participants were asked about how often they experienced depressive symptoms, the amount of stress in their lives, and how they rated their mental health on a scale of 1 (poor) to 5 (excellent).

The results found that those who were involved in school sports had better scores on all three mental health assessments compared with those who did not play sports at all. Playing school sports during adolescent years was significantly linked to lower depression symptoms, lower perceived stress, and higher self-rated mental health in young adulthood.

"It is important that school administrators recognize the importance of sport participation and physical activity," said lead author Catherine M. Sabiston, Ph.D., of the University of Toronto. "The associations we have found show a long term impact. School sport from ages 12 to 17 protects those youth from poor mental health four years later."

23 to 40 percent of youth report feelings of depression and high stress, the researchers noted. Their research investigated whether school sport participation could offer some protection against this trend.

"There is surprisingly little known about school sport, so we can only speculate as to the unique effects, but we suspect it might be due to school sport providing adolescents with opportunities to bond with other students, feel connected to their school, interact with their peers and coaches, thus, really providing a social and active environment," she explained.

Original article published in Journal of Adolescent Health


OFSAA Alumni Scholarship Recipients 2014

Thursday, July, 31, 2014

Students in EOSSAA, ROPSSAA, and SOSSA schools applied for the Alumni scholarships this year. It is encouraging to know there are so many student-athletes in our high schools who are also involved in other aspects of school life, are active members of the community, and still maintain an excellent academic standing. Thanks to all the applicants, and all the best as you move on to a Canadian university in the fall - the decisions were difficult. The winners, pictured left to right, are Patrick Desjardins, Cassie Conboy, and Curtis Richards.

Patrick Desjardins
Throughout his years at ES Catholique Jean-Vanier in Welland, Patrick demonstrated that he was an excellent student and an exceptional athlete. He participated in almost every sport offered at the school - volleyball, basketball golf, hockey, badminton, tennis and soccer. He also directed his energy to serve on the student council, the athletic council (serving 2 years as president), and several charitable fundraisers.. Patrick assisted with the coaching of junior teams, and officiated feeder school tournaments. He felt that there was no greater sense of satisfaction than representing and competing for your school. School sport enabled him to connect with his peers, teachers, competitors and other members of the community on a whole different level. For Patrick, high school would not be complete without sports. All the best as you enter an exercise science program at university.

Cassie Conboy
Cassie, a student at Ernestown SS in Odessa, stayed active throughout high school taking part in volleyball, soccer, field hockey, badminton and softball. She contributed positively to other aspects of the school culture working with the fall leadership camp and the Grade 9 orientation program. Cassie’s eagerness, organizational skills, and easy way with peers ensured that anyone with whom she interacted was comfortable. In the community she volunteered at a pediatrician’s office, and refereed and scored for an adult volleyball league. School sport taught Cassie time management, teamwork, appreciation towards others, and gratitude for opportunities she would not have had if not for others such as coaches, officials and organizers. Cassie exemplifies OFSAA’s values of leadership, commitment, respect and equity, and we are sure she will have continued success as she studies medical science at university.

Curtis Richards
Curtis attended St. Aloysius Gonzaga SS in Mississauga. During his 4 years, he participated in football, volleyball, hockey, and track and field. As team captain he showed tremendous leadership in terms of his work ethic, responsibility, and ability, and earned the respect of his peers and coaches. Curtis was also involved in other areas of school life including several fundraisers, the house system, and the athletics club. In the community he volunteered as a boys’ soccer coach and at a hockey camp. He applied the skills he learned through sport to his academic studies also, and was on the honour roll throughout high school. To quote his coach, “ Curtis represents the ‘true ideals’ of a student-athlete”. We wish him well as he pursues a kinesiology program at university.

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In 2014-15 applications for the OFSAA Alumni Scholarships will be accepted from students in schools in TDSSAA, LOSSA, and WOSSAA. The form and the criteria can be found on the OFSAA website and must be submitted by mail or courier, and received at the OFSAA office by April 1, 2015.

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OFSAA Alumni Association
The Alumni Association is composed of retired teacher-coaches and former student-athletes, and provides them with an opportunity to stay in touch with their peers. The main goal is to provide scholarships annually for students from around the province that wish to pursue a post-secondary education in a Canadian institution. Members receive copies of the Bulletin and newsletters. An alumni golf tournament and BBQ are scheduled for Monday, September 22, 2014 in Toronto, so retirees are encouraged to join in the fun. An application can be found on the OFSAA website. Donations towards the Alumni Scholarships are welcomed from current and former teachers, and student graduates.

CFL and Nissan team up to support high school football

Thursday, July, 17, 2014

High school football teams are getting a boost onto the field next season with support from a new partnership called “Back in the Game” by the Canadian Football League and Nissan Canada.

The program will support school football teams with funding, equipment, playing field improvements, training materials, and support to 21 teams across Canada including eight in Ontario that have been identified as programs in need.

Ontario high schools selected are;

Clarkson Secondary School in Mississauga

Downsview Secondary School in Toronto

Newtonbrook Secondary School in Toronto

Bowmanville High School in Bowmanville

Birchmount Park Collegiate Institute in Scarborough

St. Catherine’s Collegiate in St. Catherine’s

Sir John A. Macdonald Secondary School in Hamilton

And one more school TBA from Ottawa

Select teams will be featured in webisodes tracking the progress of the student-athletes throughout their campaign, that will lead up to a 30-minute documentary at the end of the season.

“Getting kids off the couch and playing sports is important for all Canadians. The lessons and social skills learned through sport and specifically football are invaluable to children and teenagers,” said Mark Cohon, Commissioner, Canadian Football League. “We can help revitalize football programs across the country where needed, and give those students the opportunity to get on the field, be a part of a team and have fun playing our great game.”

Additional funding for high school sports will help schools field a team that had struggled in the past, and provide opportunities for more students to participate if they had been restricted by cost before. Kudos to the “Back in the Game” program for providing this opportunity to student-athletes!

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