Last year, when I joined the UTSC girls hockey team, I constantly heard this name around campus. I had no idea who this "Danko" was, nor what he did or why he was well known. All I knew, if I had any questions about UTSC hockey - talk to Danko.
It wasn't until I introduced myself to him at a practice last year, I found out he's the SCHPA (Scarborough Campus Hockey Players Association) president. As a recent Geography and City Studies graduate, he not only played Tri-Campus hockey for 5 years, but also contributed an immense amount to UTSC and SCHPA - organizing events, recruiting players, fundraising, and probably conquering the world on his free time.
As the assistant coach to the girls hockey team, I sat down with Danko (who's known mostly by his last name) after our practice and talked with him about his past accomplishments and what he's up to since graduation.
How did you get started in UTSC athletics?
I've played hockey since I was eight. I played single A from the age of ten 'till my last year of high school. But, I didn't start playing for my high school team until grade eleven. I thought, man, I should have started playing in grade nine. That was a real eye opener. After high school I thought, I should continue playing hockey. So, when I came to [UTSC], the first week of class I looked on the website how I can try-out for the teams and, first week of school I was at hockey tryouts.
How did get involved the SCHPA?
My very first year of hockey at UTSC there was a guy on the Tri-Campus team, his name was Ryan Parker. He was in his fourth or fifth year. Him and a few other players started the SCHPA as a way to have community between the [boys and girls hockey] teams. Besides practice, you didn’t really see teams that much, and the initial goal of the club was to do pub nights in the attic, fitness classes, and fundraising together.
A year went by and Trevor Robson became president and I became the publicity rep. In my third year, after [Robson] left, there was no one else to take over. I got stuck being president in my fourth year and it went from there.
Last year was my fifth year. I had a lot of time for extra curricular and thought there was an opportunity to do more. As it turns out, I’m studying this at Durham College [at the moment], stuff I literally did for the past two years. I’m studying Sports Business Management. I went from City Studies, to more athletics. I’ve never had an office job - everything I’ve done is sports related. I wanted to see what this was like [as a career].
You've won plenty athletic awards from UTSC, which mean the most to you?
The past two years, I was awarded the Athletic Leadership Award for hockey. I was also inducted into the UTSC Hockey Hall of Fame this past April. I received the Letter Award from the Department of Student Life. That one was big because only 4 graduating students got it that year - it outlines the outstanding contribution and significance into forwarding student involvement on campus.
What has been your biggest accomplishment at UTSC?
Awards were sort of a symbol of the accomplishments. I think bringing [SCHPA] together and seeing new leaders take shape on other teams was the biggest accomplishment. It dawned on me one night. I’m a role model. It took a little bit of process. I didn’t see myself as that. I was just a guy who was bored and wanted to do these things for SCHPA. People really looked up to me and took an interest in what I was doing. Not even that, they are interested in carrying it on.
What advice do you have for students who want to join hockey on campus?
Get involved early. When I started coaching the boys B team, there was a whole group of them that came together, and within 2 years the whole team had graduated. A lot of them didn’t play first year ‘cause they didn't know hockey existed on campus. A lot of these guys regretted it. I say, from the start, get interested. I was active at frosh, recruiting, handing out flyers, wearing jerseys, grabbing players - because that’s how I was recruited. Ryan Parker, the guy who started SCHPA, wasn’t supposed to be [at my frosh], but he stole a table amongst all the clubs. Someone approached me asking if I played sports. When I said yes, they told me to go talk to the guy at the patio:
Parker: Come to hockey tryouts next Tuesday.
Parker: What position do you play?
Parker: Good. We need goalies.
That's how I got recruited. I want to continue doing that.
I always see you with a UTSC shirt, hat, or track-pant - how many pieces of UTSC clothing do you own?
Upwards, in the neighbourhood of 40 articles of athletic clothing from UTSC. They include tournament T-shirts, interhouse stuff, or SCHPA/SCAA events.
What can you tell us about the upcoming Duck Hunt event?
It's a fun event. Everyone comes out has a great time. DJ MK will be there, he's a UTSC DJ, spinning at the Athletic Banquet and Boat cruise. Tri-Campus boys are a good team this year, they won their first game 8-1. I’m going to bring an Argo horn, some signs, and cowbells. Plus, if you come - you get a free t-shirt!
Another one to add to your collection?
Cheer on the Men's UTSC Tri-Campus team in their game against UTM (admission price: FREE!).
- Bus leaves from UTSC Athletics Centre at 7:30 p.m. Friday Oct. 28.
- You receive a free duck hunt T-shirt, beverage and popcorn
- Game starts at 9 p.m.
- Music and give-aways during the game, plus a 50/50 draw.
- More info on Duck Hunt, click here.