Vancouver Island University athletics has high hopes and a new person in place to help realize its ambitions.
VIU announced Monday that Stephanie White has been hired as director of high-performance sport, recreation and physical literacy.
She has been associate athletic director at Ryerson University in Toronto for the last five years and had a lead role in a $100-million project to convert and revitalize the old Maple Leaf Gardens. She has also been an international-level women’s hockey coach with Hockey Canada.
“[She] showed us that she’s the type of leader that the people at VIU and the community will want to get behind to realize the ambitious aims that the university has for the portfolio of high-performance sport, recreation and physical literacy,” said Carrie Chassels, VIU’s executive director of student affairs.
White said she perceives that VIU is working hard to grow its reputation and said there’s great leadership and “huge goals” at the university.
“I was intrigued by the school because I felt there’s a great energy at the school…” White said. “I love a school that really wants to move forward, that wants to be innovative, progressive.”
One of the roles of the incoming athletic director will be to work toward a new gym and wellness facility. White said she asked about where the project stands as a priority, and “I would say the answer I got back was it’s a matter of when, it’s not a matter of if.”
Chassels said White “articulated a strong vision for the new physical literacy, education and activity centre in terms of its role for transforming the university campus, the community and our overall health and well-being as people and as an institution. She believes it can happen and she wants to play a role in making it happen.”
Another longtime goal of VIU athletics is to advance its Mariners teams from the PacWest collegiate level to the top-tier U Sports level.
“I don’t want to project yet how much work needs to be done, because it’s really important for me to get to the school, to sit down with the team, all the stakeholders and understand the full picture,” said White.
Upon her arrival in Nanaimo, the new athletic director will begin meeting with stakeholders, student-athletes, coaches, staff and community leaders and seek to make connections. She will also be examining the available resources and look for ways to optimize those resources and develop new ones.
Other projects include the upcoming PacWest volleyball championships at season’s end and the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association men’s soccer championships next fall.
White’s first day on the job is Nov. 28.
“I’m excited about Island living,” she said. “I’m looking forward to everything Nanaimo has to offer and meeting the community and I think it’s going to be really refreshing.”