Standing on the new home court for varsity basketball at U of T in the recently unveiled Goldring Center for High Performance Sport, makes you feel a bit of what people felt when they first laid eyes on the Titanic, or the CN tower, or any other feat of structural engineering, a mixture of awe and pride. The court is sunken several stories into the ground, its polished floor shines under the fluorescent lights above, and the usually towering basketball players who are shooting the ball around seem dwarfed by their surroundings. The sight makes you feel a little bit struck at the quality of the school’s new gym. It’s a feeling that stays with you throughout a tour of the new center in fact. The caliber of this facility is exuded in every detail of its design. It can be seen from the street outside in the aquamarine tint of the windows which overlook Devonshire place. It’s made clear at the entrance by the enormous University of Toronto logo overlooking the turnstiles. Even the layout of the workout facility, which spreads the equipment over three levels, each set up at different elevations, to mimic the feeling of being in the stands at varsity stadium makes its elite nature hard to ignore.
This is a facility that was designed so that an Olympic athlete could train there and find nothing lacking. It’s hard to imagine, given the presence of warm-up and cool-down wading pools, on site physiotherapy, and any kind of workout equipment you can think of, that anyone could want anything more from a training venue.
None of this is supposed to make the center seem elitist or exclusive in any way. The fitness facility is T card accessible from 7 in the morning to 11 at night, seven days a week and it has been retrofit to accommodate athletes of all abilities (it is completely wheelchair accessible) and identities (non-gender specific change-rooms allow students of any gender identification to work out in comfort). This marriage between elite fitness and community accessibility was one of the founding principles behind the center. As Judy Goldring, a member of the Goldring family whose generous donation to the school allowed the venue to be built and COO at AGF management explained “[The idea for the centre] came from my father (C.Warren Goldring). He thought that a bright mind, healthy body, and an active regime were the key to a balanced lifestyle.” From this principle came the belief that U of T needed a sports facility that would be available and useful to all the students of U of T regardless of their athletic ability was.
It’s another aspect of the center that really excites Judy however. When asked how she hopes the community will view the Goldring center, she speaks about the wholistic value of the facility. “For me, it’s the combination of athletic facility and research facility that really excites me,” and it’s hard not to feel the same. The upper floors of the building are packed with expensive and sophisticated equipment, which looms out of offices that you can pass by. In one lab it’s a reinforced concrete floor surrounded by sensors and monitors, which is used in biomechanics research, sometimes it’s a contraption that resembles a UFO which is an instrument used to measure the Body Mass Index of athletes. All of these is meant to make the Goldring center an international leader in sports medicine research, just one more aspect of the exciting contribution that the building will make to U of T.
The Goldring center represents an incredible development for all students of the University of Toronto, the opportunity to work on their own fitness and healthy lifestyle alongside the athletes that will represent this country at the Olympics, the researchers that will pioneer new techniques in sports medicine, and the students and coaches that will bring this school national titles. As for Judy Goldring, her vision for the center is simple and powerful:
“I just want this center to be used to the level for which it has designed,” she says, and it’s hard to imagine, given the quality of this center, any other fate befalling it.