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University Advancement | December 2017

New Kavanagh Awards push hockey players toward goals

Ryerson Rams hockey players Ailish Forfar and Taylor Dupuis

Ryerson Rams hockey players Ailish Forfar (left) and Taylor Dupuis (right). Photo credit: Alex D’Addese / Ryerson Rams Athletics

A $1 million gift from Al and Brigitte Kavanagh is transforming hockey at Ryerson.

The support enables the men’s and women’s teams to take advantage of unparalleled travel and training opportunities, and has introduced a series of student awards that provide vital financial support to outstanding athletes.

“There’s terrific opportunity to build new connections for the hockey program, and attract new talent and fans,” says Al Kavanagh, retired founder and former president and director of GolfNorth Properties.

“We’ve been watching Ryerson,” adds Brigitte Kavanagh, “and this is a moment of great momentum for the university. We are excited to see the promise here in both the students and the teams.”

Inaugural recipients of the award were announced in the fall. Among the nine players awarded were women’s captain, Ailish Forfar, and men’s goalie, Taylor Dupuis.

“This is my second degree,” says Forfar, who played Division I hockey in the NCAA and completed a double major at Dartmouth College prior to coming to Ryerson. “I really wanted to decrease the financial burden for me and my parents. The Kavanaghs made that possible. Their generosity motivates me that much more to give back and lead our team to a championship.”    

Forfar is in her second year of the Sport Media program in the RTA School of Media and is focussed on gaining experience in as many areas of the field as possible. Having already completed an internship at TSN, a career in broadcast is definitely a consideration for Forfar, but she’s keeping her options open: “Sport broadcaster? Producer? CWHL player? Coach? We’ll see what the future holds.”

Dupuis is also in the Sport Media program and committed to giving his best in the classroom and on the ice. Last season, Dupuis posted an 8-2 record and a .906 save percentage. Prior to becoming a goaltender for the Ryerson Rams, he played three years in the OHL. His abilities won him an invitation to the New York Rangers rookie camp in 2015. He had the opportunity to meet the Kavanaghs when the team was invited to their home to pick up hockey memorabilia which they also donated to Ryerson. 

“It’s hard to put into words what Al and Brigitte have done for the team, and for me personally,” says Dupuis. “Coming from a small town, living in a big city and going to university is expensive. Between practice, games and class, I don’t have time for a part-time job during the school year. I work the entire summer. Receiving this award lifts a lot of pressure, and lets me focus on my education and my game.”

As with Forfar, receiving the award has heightened his sense of responsibility: “I want to make sure I’ve earned it. That means hitting the books that much harder and giving 110 percent on the ice.”