Sunshine floods through a series of skylights hidden in an oddly shaped ceiling.

President Gertler honours Varsity Blues student athletes at 15th annual President’s Reception

Varsity Athletes Luncheon 2023

(photo credit: Aru Das)

The University of Toronto honoured 20 Varsity Blues student-athletes with their Silver T awards at the 15th annual President’s Reception on Wednesday, March 29, 2023 at Goldring Centre for High Performance Sport.

U of T President Meric Gertler has carried on the annual event that his predecessor, David Naylor, started in 2006, and this was the first in-person luncheon since 2019, before the COVID-19 pandemic. The event recognizes the very best in athletic excellence at U of T, as well as acknowledges the hard work and dedication of staff, students and volunteers who make the Varsity Blues intercollegiate program possible.

The prestigious Silver T is awarded primarily to Bronze T holders in their graduating year for outstanding athletic performance.

President Gertler, as well as Professor Gretchen Kerr, Dean of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education, Beth Ali, Executive Director of Athletics & Physical Activity and Mary Beth Challoner, Director of Intercollegiate Athletics & High Performance Sport were all on hand to make the presentations.

2022-23 Silver T Recipients

Kashish Arya – Rugby
Kashish Arya was a member of the Varsity Blues women’s rugby team for four seasons from 2018-22. Arya was named an OUA all-star team in her rookie season with the Blues. The fourth-year centre would go on to be named to the all-star team in the following two seasons.

Brendan Bornstein – Hockey
Brendan Bornstein ended his Varsity Blues career with 28 points in 51 games. Bornstein earned OUA West first-team all-star honours, as well as a spot on the OUA’s all-rookie team in 2019-20. The Boston, Mass., native registered six goals and 14 assists that season, good enough for sixth in points among OUA defencemen. The following season, 2021-22, Bornstein finished the season with seven points in 18 games.

Lauren Dundee – Water Polo
Lauren Dundee has been an integral component to the Varsity Blues women’s water polo team over her three seasons with the Blues. During that time, she has won three straight NCWP championships from 2019-22, where the team would go undefeated in all three seasons. She was named to the all-star team on all three occasions. In 2019, her rookie season, Dundee was named the most outstanding player of the championship after scoring 11 goals over three games.

Evan Falardeau – Volleyball
Evan Falardeau has been a standout student-athlete over the past four seasons with the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team. In 2019, his rookie season, the Stratford, Ont., native was named a member of the OUA and U SPORTS all-rookie team. The left side hitter went onto earn OUA East first team all-star laurels on three occasions (2020, 2022, 2023), and in 2023 was named a U SPORTS all-Canadian. In 2023, he led the OUA in points and kills. The political science major finished his time with the Blues with two silver medals (2020, 2022) and a bronze medal (2023). Falardeau guided the Blues to the U SPORTS championship in three of his four seasons.

Esther Isadora Falkson – Fencing
Esther Isadora Falkson is a three-time OUA champion and two time all-star. In 2020, Falkson was named to the OUA sabre all-star team after guiding the Blues sabre team to a gold medal. The Kingston, Ont., native followed that performance up with two more gold medals at the 2022 and 2023 OUA championships. She would be named to the OUA sabre all-star team in 2023.

Sam Gaskin – Lacrosse
Sam Gaskin finished his four seasons with the Varsity Blues as a three-time CUFLA all-Canadian. In 2019, Gaskin helped the Blues to a third-place finish in the CUFLA West division. The following season, the Oakville, Ont., native added a goal and two assists, while helping the Blues in allowing the second-fewest goals in the central division. In his final season, in 2022, Gaskin was an integral part of the Blues defence, while also adding three goals and three assists.

Onome Gbinije – Track & Field
Onome Gbinije has been a contributing member to the Varsity Blues track and field team since 2019. Gbinije has medaled twice individually at the OUA championships, earning silver in the 60-metre dash in 2022 and 2023. The Mississauga, Ont., native claimed her first national podium finish in 2023 with a silver medal in the 60m at the U SPORTS championships.

Bernard Godolphin – Swimming
Bernard Godolphin has been a member of three OUA championship teams. In his rookie season, Godolphin was named the 2019-20 OUA men’s rookie of the year and U of T’s men’s rookie of the year across all sports. The Montreal, Que., native amassed six individual podium finishes over three championships. He is a three-time OUA champion in the 200 freestyle event (2020, 2022, 2023). Nationally, Godolphin placed first in the 200 freestyle at the 2022 national championship. Godolphin has reached the podium individually three times at national championships.

Aleksa Gold – Swimming
Aleksa Gold finishes her time with the Varsity Blues on a high note, winning the OUA women’s swimmer of the year in 2022-23. Gold is a four-time OUA champion and two-time national champion. In 2023, Gold swept her events at the OUA championship, where she placed first in the 50, 100 and 200 backstroke and 200 freestyle. Gold won the 200 freestyle and 400 individual medley at the 2022 OUA championship. She would go on to win the Dr. Jeno Tihanyi IM excellence award. She would place on the podium 15 times over her four provincial championships. At the national level, Gold has amassed 13 individual podium finishes over four championships, including gold medals in the 200 backstroke (2020, 2023) and 400 individual medley (2022).

Aidan Guld – Lacrosse
Aidan Guld wrapped up his Varsity Blues career in spectacular fashion being named to the 2022 CUFLA all-Canadian team. Guld finished second in CUFLA in points (30) and fifth in assists (12) in 2022. The Burnaby, B.C., native was also drafted in the sixth round by the Albany Firewolves in the National Lacrosse League (NLL). The finance and economics major was also an all-Canadian honourable mention in 2019 and 2021.

Claire Howard – Swimming
In her three seasons with the Varsity Blues, Claire Howard has been a part of three OUA championship (2020, 2022, 2023) and two U SPORTS championship (2022, 2023) teams. Provincially, over three seasons, Howard has placed on the individual podium eight times, including back-to-back gold medals in the 400 freestyle (2022, 2023) and a gold medal in the 800 freestyle (2020). She is also a two-time silver medalist in the 800 freestyle (2022, 2023). On the national stage, Howard earned a bronze medal in the 400 freestyle in 2023.

Pia Jhattu – Tennis
Pia Jhattu joined the Blues in 2019 and made an immediate impact on the tennis court. In her first season, Jhattu was named OUA female rookie of the year after going 4-0 to lead the Blues to their first OUA championship title since 2013. She followed that up, in 2021, with leading the Blues to a second straight OUA championship, while taking a spot on the all-star team and being named OUA MVP. In 2022, her final season, the Oakville, Ont., native helped the Blues to an OUA silver medal and a second-place finish at the Tennis Canada university championships. Jhattu was also named an OUA all-star in 2022.

Jasmine Lew – Track & Field
Jasmine Lew has been a member of the Varsity Blues track and field team since 2018. In her rookie season, Lew was named OUA rookie of the year after winning gold in the long jump at the 2019 OUA championships. She followed that up by claiming the bronze medal in long jump later that year at the U SPORTS championship. The Coquitlam, B.C., native finished her time with the Blues in style, winning gold in the long jump and 60 dash at the 2023 OUA championships. Lew went onto earn all-Canadian honours after a second-place finish in the long jump at the 2023 U SPORTS championships.

Bruno Marunica – Water Polo
Bruno Marunica joined the Blues in 2019 and made an immediate impact. During his three seasons with the University of Toronto, the men’s water polo team won three straight OUA championships, helping set a new program record of six straight OUA championships from 2017-22. In his first season, Marunica led the Blues with five goals in their 12-9 championship win over the Carleton Ravens. In 2021, the Regina, Sask., native was named co-most valuable player after a three-goal performance.

Sam McCrory – Field Hockey
Sam McCrory finished her career with the Varsity Blues with 25 goals and 38 assists in 25 games. McCrory was named OUA MVP in 2022, while leading the OUA in goals scored with 11 in 2021 and 20 in 2022. In 2021, McCrory led the Blues to an OUA final victory against the Guelph Gryphons, where she scored the opening goal. The Blues would face off against the University of Victoria in the U SPORTS championship where she would finish with one goal and two assists in three games. In 2022, McCrory helped the Blues to an undefeated regular season, winning nine of their 10 games. The Kitchener, Ont., native was also named to the U SPORTS all-Canadian team in 2022.

Kristyan Puyol-Genossar – Baseball
Kristyan Puyol-Genossar finishes his four-year career with the Varsity Blues as an OUA champion and two-time all-star. In 2021, Puyol-Genossar was named to the OUA all-star team at catcher and helped guide the Blues to a perfect 10-0 regular season where they went on to win the OUA championship. The following season, the Toronto native was named designated hitter on the all-star team with Toronto falling just short of the OUA championship, dropping the final to the Queen’s Gaels.

Ella Tetrault – Rugby
Ella Tetrault was an integral part of the Varsity Blues women’s rugby team from 2019-22. Tetrault was named to the OUA all-star team in 2021 and also earned the OUA and U SPORTS student-athlete community service awards. The Montreal native followed that up with her second appearance on the OUA all-star-team the following year.

Daniel Tudor – Volleyball
Daniel Tudor has been a member of the Varsity Blues men’s volleyball team since 2017. The fifth-year Libero was named an OUA East second-team all-star in 2022 and followed that up with being named to the first team all-star the following season. In 2023, Tudor led the OUA in digs and digs per set. Tudor medaled in three of his five season with the Blues, claiming silver twice and bronze once. The computer engineering major made three appearances at the U SPORTS championship.

Rassam Yazdi – Tennis
Rassam Yazdi has been a member of the Varsity Blues men’s tennis team since 2019. In his three seasons, he helped the team achieve silver medals each year. Yazdi was named an OUA all-star in 2021 and 2022. In his final season was named OUA men’s player of the year, after helping Toronto go 8-2 during the OUA season.

Jonathan Zimmerman – Fencing
Jonathan Zimmerman finishes his four years with the Blues as a four-time OUA champion. In 2019, Zimmerman helped the epee team to a gold medal finish at the OUA championships. In the following two years (2020, 2021), the Okotoks, Alta., native guided the epee team to two gold-medal finishes and was placed on the OUA epee all-star team. Zimmerman picked up his fourth gold medal with the epee team at the 2022 OUA men’s fencing championship.

Courtesy of the Faculty of Kinesiology & Physical Education