When Bev MacKenzie arrived at Etobicoke Collegiate over 20 years ago, her coaching career took off running.
Already an established high school teacher and coach, MacKenzie had no reservations about taking over the school’s cross-country, and track and field programs.
“When I first arrived, Richview Collegiate was always beating us,” she said. “So I put together a five year program, got the ball rolling and the program grew and grew and grew.
“We eventually started beating Richview and continued to do so until I left over a year ago,” MacKenzie added. “Track and cross-country took on a life of itself and was something people wanted to be part of.”
In her 20-year coaching stint at Etobicoke, MacKenzie also led the midget girls volleyball team and even coached archery for a year. But track and cross-country were always her favourites.
“I was fortunate because I never had to cut anyone and I made sure the team had room for everyone to join,” MacKenzie said. “There was room for the novice who had little experience and for those who were serious OFSAA contenders.”
MacKenzie said she never saw coaching as extra-curricular, but rather co-curricular. She enjoyed giving students the opportunity to experience sport at a different level than they would in the classroom.
And while it was her job to teach, MacKenzie said she learned just as much as the students.
“The kids always surprised me with their capabilities,” she said. “There were always those kids that people gave up on … that actually had the self-discipline to carry through with their goals.
“Athletics is a wonderful media for character building,” added MacKenzie, who is now an instructional leader in physical and health education for the TDSB. “I was always delighted with what I uncovered.”
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