By Jensen, Randy on October 24, 2020.
It is one thing to recognize a student/colleague/organization in need. It takes a special person to jump in and try to meet that need – a person like Mary Dyck.
Dyck, a retired kinesiology instructor, has been the lifeline for numerous people in need over the years and is now being recognized as the 2020 University of Lethbridge Volunteer Award recipient.
Lauded as an excellent educator, Dyck’s teaching spoke to issues of inclusivity and the power of sport for well-being. The lessons she taught in class mirrored the example she set as a coach and volunteer. Always willing to take on a challenge, Dyck was instrumental as a volleyball and soccer coach at both the high school and post-secondary levels. And while her work with typical athletes was exceptional, she took particular interest in athletes with disabilities.
In class, she would educate her students about diverse needs’ populations in sport. She then involved herself in creating and maintaining sports initiatives so her students could embrace and learn from such populations’ experiences. Her teaching led to an understanding of the challenges and a deep respect and meaningful appreciation for how sport contributes to the well-being of everyone.
Away from the classroom, Dyck, working with Adapted Physical Activity Consultants (APAC), took the lead as head instructor and program co-ordinator as she designed, implemented and taught a six-session soccer program for children (aged 3 to 14) with disabilities and their friends – a program that ran from 2013-19.
A champion for wheelchair basketball, Dyck became involved as a volunteer simply because she recognized a population in need of a program and was willing to share her expertise in a selfless manner.
She was also willing to reach out and assist her colleagues, who would often seek her help mentoring students. She regularly assisted members of the Pronghorns men’s hockey team, taking the time to fully understand the assignments and workload of the students and then assisting them with learning strategies and time management ideas so they could find success as student-athletes. All the while, she maintained a high expectation level that helped them find their footing as confident learners.
Dyck fostered a culture of caring and selflessness that continues to permeate throughout the university, putting the needs of her students in the forefront. It’s a lesson that is sure to live on as these students graduate from the university and look to make their own impact on the communities in which they live.