Wilson Boyle and Josh Olin, who just graduated from UCC in May, co-founded the club. Boyle had previously launched a fantasy hockey league where the winners received cash, but he thought the prize money could be put to better use in supporting those who were underserved in the UCC community.
After discussions with Deirdre Timusk — the College’s assistant head of the Upper School, operations and strategic projects, who at the time was director of community service — it was decided in 2016 to personalize the project to benefit the Farastakis.
Upper School math teacher Andrew MacDougall came on board as the club adviser, and a marketing plan and trade guidelines for the leagues were established.
“One of our first hurdles was how to retain original league members when the monetary payout was going to charity rather than the winning league member,” says Boyle. “To address this, I secured a corporate sponsor to donate three commemorative jerseys for the winners of each of the three leagues.”
The club’s major sponsors are Mackenzie Investments, CI Investments and Industrial Alliance Insurance. In addition to helping provide the jerseys, they also contribute funds for pizza lunches at club meetings.
There were more than 50 members in the Fantasy Sports for Syria Club during this last school year. Members signed up for one or more fantasy sports leagues for hockey, football and basketball, and each winner received a jersey of his choice.
“This year, we established and ran five leagues, each with at least 10 members,” says Boyle. “Participating members paid an entry fee for each league they joined, and these funds were used to support UCC’s sponsored Syrian refugee family, the Farastakis, as they transitioned to their new lives in Canada.”
Mohamed Farastaki, the patriarch of the family, joined club members for lunch at the College on May 29.
Boyle and Olin will both attend Western University in September, where they hope to launch an even more ambitious chapter of the club for students who wish to support the Syrian refugee cause.
Fantasy Sports for Syria Club will continue at UCC in the upcoming school year under the leadership of Boyle’s younger brother Lachlan and Dima Kulakov, who are respectively in Years 8 and 9 now.