Former Varsity Blues wrestler Teresa (Piotrowski) Fox has joined such well-known athletes as former CFL football player Tim Reid and champion rower Fiona Milne as a member of U of T’s Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony, at Hart House Theatre on June 24, honoured eight athletes, two coaches and two teams from years past.
Fox (BSc PT 1999), who wrestled with the Blues from 1996 to 1999, remembers how U of T coach Kimin Kim prepared her for a 1998 match against Tonya Verbeek, the future Olympic medallist. With so few female wrestlers at U of T, Fox had no counterpart to prepare her for the challenge, so Kim trained with Fox himself. Fox won the showdown between her and Verbeek, calling it “one of the best matches” she’s ever had.
A 10-time provincial and national medallist, and two-time World Cup and World Team member, Fox now focuses on her roles as physiotherapist and mother of two girls. But her wrestling stature remains intact. “Other coaches would say, ‘Watch out for her arm throw,’ or ‘Watch out for her shoulder throw.’ I was known as a thrower.”
Inductee and former coach Orest Stanko (MA 1976) might have had a career in a courtroom rather than on the volleyball court. Between graduation and his first year of coaching, he “floated,” says Stanko. “I was entertaining thoughts of doing my PhD, having been invited by U of T, or entering law school.”
Stanko honed in on an athletic interest, and did communications work with a U.S.-based volleyball team for six months. Peter Stefaniuk, head coach of the Varsity Blues Men’s Volleyball team, then announced he was stepping down. He recommended Stanko, a former teammate, for the job. Stanko’s first season was 1981; he would remain coach for 23 years, retiring in 2004. He led his teams to 13 provincial championships and was named Ontario University Athletics East Coach of the Year seven times.
Other 2009 inductees in the Athletes category are: Eugene Buccigrossi (BPHE 1994) for football; Justine (Ellison) Sharp (BPHE 1996, BEd 1998 OISE) for basketball; Paul Henderson (BASc 1957) for sailing; Helen Murphy (BA 1981 UTSC, BEd 1982 OISE) for hockey; Yoko Ode (BSc Phm 1975) for fencing; Peter Urban (BA 1965 St. Mike’s) for fencing and Paul Williams (BPHE 1985) for track and field. Former football coach Ronald Murphy (MEd 1981 OISE) was honoured in the Builder category. The inducted teams are: 1953-54 Men’s Track and Field Team (League Champions) and 1920-21 Women’s Basketball Team (Intercollegiate Champions).