Q-and-A with Prep Athletic Director Victoria Altomare

The former Team Canada member has been at UCC for five years, recently stepping into the athletic director role.
Tell us about your athletic background.

I played for Team Canada in beach volleyball for seven years. It was a great opportunity; I travelled to Europe, Asia and the U.S. to compete and made some incredible friendships, too. While I was a player, I also coached for the Pakmen Volleyball Club in Mississauga and earned my bachelor’s degree part-time at York University.

What was the highlight of your competitive career?

My partner and I placed second at the U-21 world championships, the first time that female Team Canada beach volleyball players had been on the podium. My partner has since competed in the 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo.

Why did you decide to switch gears?
 
I knew that I wouldn’t have a chance at the 2016 Olympic team and I decided I wanted to excel at something else. As a coach, I fell in love with working with kids and saw a clear connection to teaching. I started volunteering in schools to see if I enjoyed the classroom experience and then enrolled in the University of Toronto’s master’s program in child study and education. I realized that teaching would allow me to meld the two worlds; I could work in the classroom and on the field.
 
What’s it been like to serve as athletic director?
 
Nigel White left an incredible legacy here when he recently retired and developed such an incredible program. My goal is to continue to uphold such high standards in our athletic program. Of course, we’ve had to be creative during COVID-19; there’s no playbook telling us how to meet the needs of the students, but faculty and staff here are so flexible and passionate and our leadership is so forward-thinking about what we can offer that we’ve made it work well. 

In addition to being athletic director, I still coach; it’s important to be right in the thick of things so I have my finger on the pulse of what’s working and how I can support my colleagues.

How have the students coped with pandemic-impacted programming?
 
It has been an opportunity for them to try something new, such as badminton or martial arts. It’s also allowed us to rethink the experiences of boys who don’t usually make the traditional teams: Can we still offer them other experiences when things return to normal?
 
Our Year 7 students are back to competition, although CISSA hasn’t had playoffs. However, our Year 7 volleyball and soccer teams were first in the league and our cross-country team was second, with the fastest runner among U-13 boys.

What do you love about sports?
 
Sports are a vehicle to develop life skills. They build character, teach us to commit to something and to manage our time. They allow you to meet people you wouldn’t meet in class and to develop leadership skills. Sports also show you that sometimes you have to make sacrifices to follow your dreams. The most influential people in my life have been coaches and I’ve learned the biggest life lessons through sports.
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