After 41 years of loyalty, the new Casa Loma gym may be named in DaSilva’s honour
If you think your heart is big, wait until you meet Albert DaSilva.
At George Brown College (GBC) Casa Loma campus, the gymnasium is under construction and will be until the fall of 2015. Students are advocating for the gym to be named the Albert DaSilva Athletic Centre, already nicknamed the DaSilva Den.
Albert DaSilva’s official title is the intramural co-ordinator at GBC but that doesn’t cover half of his involvement for students and athletes.
He has been a part of the Huskies ever since Alex Barbier, the late athletic manager, recruited him from Central Commerce High School in the 1970s to play and attend George Brown.
When Barbier retired, his legacy went on not only through the renaming of the St. James campus gym, but also through the hearts of students and staff like DaSilva.
“George Brown is home away from home. It’s too bad that Barbier is gone because he meant a lot not just to me but to the students of George Brown,” said DaSilva emotionally. “From the first day that I met him I could see I was in good hands, and I could see how he operated with the student population. It doesn’t matter who it was, small groups or large groups, they were always first. I took a liking to that.”
DaSilva is a whole-hearted man who sweats passion for GBC through his coaching and by acting as a confidant for many students.
This year is his 32nd year as full-time staff member for George Brown and he has watched as the Casa Loma gym was built and now as it is renovated.
DaSilva has been involved with the athletics department since 1973 while also being a student at GBC. Although he has had the opportunity to retire for about 10 years now, he can’t seem to pry himself away.
Ricardo Brown, a basketball point guard for the Huskies, has had the opportunity to know DaSilva since he was 19 years old. Now 27, Brown knows Dasilva’s effect on people.
“He has put his trust in a lot of people and pretty much treated all of the varsity athletes as his family. He will give you food, bus fare if you need it, advice and will talk to people and try to get them jobs,” said Brown. “He would always be willing to reach his hand out to help anybody.”
Leanne Prade, a first year student in the sport and events marketing program, and a setter on the women’s varsity volleyball team, feels that DaSilva deserves to have the gym renamed after him.
“It’s a good reflection as to how the school looks, (and) he’s been a big part of the school with how he gives back and his relationship with the students; not even just with the athletes but the school as a whole,” said Prade. “(With) every student he meets, he has a positive outlook on everything and he talks to everybody. He’s able to be around to celebrate this instead of a lot of times when people have things named after them and they’re not here.”
Akai Nettey, a fifth year business-finance student and a point and shooting guard for the men’s basketball team agrees saying, “he always looks after everyone else before he looks after himself, and he’s always giving back so the idea of the (gym) renaming would be a great idea and he deserves it.”
DaSilva also gives back to the community. He has volunteered for 10 years for the Toronto Triple Threat basketball, coaching boys and girls 10-18 years old. He also organizes basketball tournaments for junior and senior boys, as well as the varsity men’s basketball tournaments.
He also wants to be a part of the negative and positive parts of the students’ lives.
“When a student is not happy or when they are happy, I want to be part of that enjoyment,” said DaSilva. “It’s not always when its negative, you have to be involved when it’s a positive thing and reinforce it.”
One word to sum up Dasilva’s influence on GBC would be “amigo,” which is also DaSilva’s catch phrase, and something he calls many of the students.
The petition to rename the gym can be found in the athletic department. According to Ed Marks, manager of athletics, “something like this has never happened before, and it could take as little as 10 signatures or as many as 100.”
Ultimately it is up to senior management to make the change, and Marks says, “if there’s a significant amount of people wanting this, then I think it makes the college compelled to really look it.”
It is uncertain if there is a policy of renaming a building after someone who is still present at the school, but with enough enthusiasm from students the currently nameless Casa Loma gym may be called the DaSilva Den after all.