Huskies greats reflect and look forward ahead of 50-year homecoming
As the athletics department gets set to celebrate 50 years of athletics at the college, some of the greats are coming back to mark the occasion.
One of those greats is Ontario Collegiate Athletics Association (OCAA) and Huskies hall-of-famer Marla Henderson. As a Husky, Henderson won two provincial gold medals in alpine skiing adding to two other golds she took when she was with Confederation College.
Hailing from Thunder Bay, a 1,400 km drive northwest of Toronto, building relationships so far from home was important for Henderson. Being a Husky helped her do that.
“I was able to meet my friends through college not only in class but through the athletics program, so that was super important,” she said. “And (so was) being able to walk into the athletics department and have a family away from home.”
A graduate of the sports and events marketing program, Henderson was a multi-sport athlete competing for women’s volleyball and indoor soccer at the college.
Henderson was George Brown’s female athlete of the year in 2008. She was inducted into the OCAA hall-of-fame in 2011, and George Brown’s athletic hall in 2012.
For Val Pozzan and Albert DaSilva, who were each part of a Huskies basketball dynasty in the 1970s, returning to the college for homecoming is about maintaining the bonds formed through athletics.
Pozzan, who played on George Brown’s only national gold medal-winning team, outside of badminton, said that he still send cards to athletes that he coached.
He said he also remembered a time when the athletics department was just him and former athletics director, Alex Barbier who is the namesake of the Casa Loma campus gym. Pozzan said that while the college is starting to provide more support for athletics, it was lacking in the past.
“If I’m comparing ourselves to other colleges and the way we grew as far as athletics and what we could have been doing, we grew very slow.”
DaSilva has long been an advocate of improving the athletic facilities of the college, and he wants to see the Huskies outdoor athletes play closer to the school.
Other than the Huskies baseball team, which plays some of its home games at Christie Pits near downtown, every outdoor varsity team plays home games in North York or Scarborough this year.
He also noticed that George Brown’s facilities had an impact on recruiting new athletes.
“When they come to see our facility, in some cases their high schools have bigger facilities than us.”
Henderson would like to see alpine skiing come back to the college as a varsity sport, though she knows that it takes more kids putting on the skis.
“When I first quit skiing I coached the year after locally, and there’s lot less kids nowadays for sure.”
The 50 year anniversary weekend is happening Sept. 29-30. The Friday social will feature Olympic gold medalist and sportscaster Tessa Bonhomme as well as Toronto Raptors commentator Jack Armstrong.
On the Saturday afternoon of the weekend, former Huskies will have the chance to play against current varsity athletes in badminton, basketball and more.