Blues pick up four 2022-23 OUA Honour Awards


U of T's executive director of athletics & physical activity, Beth Ali, was named the OUA Woman of Distinction at the annual Ontario University Athletics (OUA) awards gala wrapped up on Wednesday, May 17 at Hockley Valley Resort. 

Varsity Blues swimming Olympian Gabe Mastromatteo was named the OUA's men's athlete of the year, while long-time Blues field hockey head coach John DeSouza won the John McManus award, presented to a retired coach, who exemplifies the highest ideals and qualities of sportsmanship & service while engaged in coaching in university sport.

Jada Roach, who claimed U of T's prestigious Dr. Clara Benson Honour Award last month, was named the winner of the OUA equity, diversity, & inclusion award of excellence. 

In recognition of outstanding leadership and celebrating the exceptional contributions of the many prominent women across the OUA, Toronto's Beth Ali is the recipient of the 2022-23 OUA Woman of Distinction Award.

Being at the helm of U of T's athletic department for the past 13 seasons, Ali has tirelessly contributed to the OUA community in many ways and has continuously pushed and fought for equal focus and athletic support for her student-athletes.

On the field of play, the Varsity Blues have captured numerous conference titles and individual awards, notably earning an impressive seven provincial championships and one national title this season. Under her guidance, the program has also opened two new state-of-the-art facilities that have hosted provincial and national championships, as well as established blossoming partnerships with NBA Canada, Basketball Canada, BioSteel and OVO Bounce.

Through both her personal and professional experience, Ali is a dedicated supporter of OUA sport development and the benefits of sport in the development of the whole person, especially the positive impact it has on a student-athlete's university experience.

Gabe Mastromatteo made a splash with every race he swam for the Varsity Blues this past season, earning an impressive collection of hardware along the way for the Toronto men's swimming team.

He began with a dominant showing at the 2023 OUA Swimming Championships that saw him reel in six medals across the three days of competition. His four golden outings therein came via the 100m breaststroke, 200m freestyle relay, 400m medley relay and the 50m breaststroke. His performance in the latter was good enough to set a new conference record, and after adding on a silver (200m breaststroke) and bronze (50m butterfly), Mastromatteo was named OUA swimmer of the year and a conference all-star.

The commerce major from Kenora, Ont. would then proceed to the national stage, and while the setting was different, the success was similar. The first-team all-Canadian captured a pair of U SPORTS records at the championship event, earning top spot and pace-breaking performances in the 50m and 100m breaststroke, respectively. He would add silver medals in the 200m breaststroke and 400m medley relay.

The 2020 Olympian was an integral part of the Blues capturing their 19th consecutive OUA banner and a fourth-place finish at the U SPORTS Championships, and his 2022-23 season will undoubtedly go down as one of the most memorable for the decorated program thus far.

The John McManus Award is presented to a retired OUA coach that exemplifies the highest ideals and qualities of sportsmanship and service, while engaged in coaching in university sport, and this year's recipient is John De Souza.

Involved with the Toronto Varsity Blues field hockey program for 26 years, De Souza officially took over as head coach in 2007 after a 16-year stint as an assistant. In that year, he led the team to their first national title in over a decade. During his run, he and the team captured seven OUA championships and a pair of U SPORTS titles, while De Souza himself earned coach of the year honours at the conference and national levels in both 2011 and 2014.

While coaching at the University of Toronto, De Souza was also an assistant coach on the 2007 gold medal winning Pan-American Games men's field hockey team that also represented Canada at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing. The decorated coach has also served as a board member for both Field Hockey Ontario and Field Hockey Canada, giving back to the game whenever he can.

A new award this season, the Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Award of Excellence is presented to an individual within the OUA as a mark of distinction for their work in equity, diversity and inclusion initiatives.

Jada Roach has made her mark in more ways than one as a track and field student-athlete with the Toronto Varsity Blues. The team captain was named the 2022-23 recipient of U of T's Clara Benson Honour Award, which is given to an undergraduate women's student-athlete who has contributed most to university athletics from the standpoint of academics, athletics, leadership and community service.

Serving as a member of the Varsity Board's athlete engagement subcommittee as well as the head of communications for the BIPOC Varsity Association, Roach helped lead a subcommittee of volunteers to develop multiple initiatives that improve and promote diversity and inclusion with Varsity Blues athletics.

In addition, the Saskatoon, Sask. local served as the director of diversity and inclusion for UofT Women in Sport, where she recommended changes to improve those areas in club membership and executive decisions. Her focus lies in increasing membership and creating initiatives centered around BIPOC and LGBTQ2S+ inclusion.

As a member of the Faculty of Kinesiology and Physical Education (KPE) Equity Committee, the third-year kinesiology major has helped plan and has led various events, including the KPE Diversity and Equity in Motion Conference and the KPE Black History Month film showing. Along with her role on the Equity Committee, she is a student panelist with the Summer Mentorship Program (KPE Day) and U of T's Black and Indigenous Student Hangout.

The complete list of 2022-23 OUA Honour Awards recipients is as follows:
Athletes of the Year – Sarah Gates, McMaster; Gabe Mastromatteo, Toronto
Teams of the Year – Carleton Women's Basketball; McMaster Men's Cross Country
Coaches of the Year – Paula Schnurr, McMaster; Marty Calder, Brock
J.P. Loosemore Award – Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Wilfrid Laurier
John McManus Award – John De Souza, Toronto
Media Member of Distinction – Ben Steiner, 49 Sports
Equity, Diversity, & Inclusion Award of Excellence – Jada Roach, Toronto
OUA Woman of Distinction – Beth Ali, Toronto