Athletic Trajectory: Where are Trent Athletics Alumni Now?

Photo by Mathias Herheim on Unsplash.

Trent University has produced many athletes who have gone on to have tremendous careers in sport. Currently, Trent is known for rowing, and many high caliber rowers competing in national and international competitions are Trent alumni.

Robert Marland is one of the many rowers to graduate from Trent University. In 1985, Marland was part of the Trent men’s eight team that took 1st place at the Ontario University Championships. Marland went on to compete in the 1988 and 1992 Olympics and has won numerous medals in competitions around the world. He left rowing on a high after Canada’s coxed eight men’s team won gold at the 1992 Olympics in Barcelona. Marland was inducted into the Canadian Olympic Hall of Fame in 1994, and the Mississauga Hall of Fame in 1997.

While Trent may be known for its rowing program now, in the 70s and 80s Trent produced high quality Squash players. Peter Robson graduated from Trent University in 1981, with a BA in economics. Robson helped to create the squash program at Trent, and was consistently ranked in the top 20 squash players during his university career. Robson has gone on to spend his career coaching squash. For the last 31 years he has coached the men’s team at Amherst College (United States), and is now also in his 8th season coaching the women’s team.

Geoff Mitchell grew up in Peterborough. While at Trent he played volleyball and squash. Mitchell was able to play squash on the Canadian Pro Circuit while taking computer science and philosophy classes. Since his time at Trent, Mitchell has had a career as both a player and a coach. In 2010 he was ranked #1 in the United States for his age bracket (over 45). He has been the head coach at the Chatham Club in New Jersey for 26 years. Mitchell’s coaching has helped to develop national champions. In 2016, Mitchell was named National Coach of the Year by the United States Olympic committee.

Tara Sharpe-Lester received her BA from Trent University in 1993. She was on the Canadian junior and senior development national squash teams. Sharpe-Lester won gold at the Canadian Commonwealth games and was part of Team Ontario in 1991 when they took 1st place in the Canada winter games. Sharpe-Lester now teaches grade 8. In 2012 Sharpe-Lester returned to squash after 15 years away, to win the Canadian Squash Championships women’s division A. There are many other Trent alumni who have continued in their respective sports, some even reaching the Olympics.

Richard Clarke graduated from Trent in 1993 with his BA in geography. During his time at Trent, Clarke was able to compete in sailing on an international level, where he has been ever since. Clarke competed in the Finn class (a one-person dinghy) in the 1992, 1996, 2000, and 2004 Olympics. During the 2012 Olympics in London Clarke competed with Tyler Bjorn in the star class and came in 12th. Clarke has numerous team and solo international wins. Additionally, Clarke has won many sailor and athlete of the year awards.

In 2016, Trent Rugby celebrated 50 years. Alumni Caleb Smith, who graduated from Trent in 1993, was chair of the event. Smith is a teacher in Niagara Falls, but has kept involved in rugby as a player, coach, and by sitting on committees and Board of Director positions for various rugby organizations. Smith coached the women’s rugby team at Brock University for a number of years, and was a coach for the Niagara Rugby Union.

Ainsley Switzer was a gold medalist in fencing at Trent. She uses the epee. While at Trent, Switzer won the Golden Chicken MVP award and the University Athletic Award. Switzer was a part of the Canadian National Women’s Epee team. She won gold at the Commonwealth games, and in 2011 she took silver at the Pan Am games. Switzer has also been coaching since 2006, at Ajax fencing.

David Howe completed his BSc in anthropology at Trent in 1984. He is a Paralympian, who specialized in the 5000m run. Howe competed in the 1988, 1992, 1996, and 2000 Paralympics, winning a silver and bronze. Now retired from running, Howe is a researcher and coach at Loughborough University (United Kingdom).

John Epping grew up in Peterborough. Epping was instrumental in developing the curling program at Trent. During the 2005-2006 season Epping was part of the Trent curling team that placed 4th at the OUA championships. Additionally, outside of the university in 2005 Epping was a part of the team that placed 1st at the Canadian mixed curling championships. For his dedication to curling during his time at Trent, Epping won many awards, including the University Athletic Award. Epping is currently ranked 6th in the world. His current team consists of Mat Camm, Patrick Janssen, and Time March. Epping is the skip.

Jessica Wolff has a BSc in psychology from Trent. She was the first figure skater at Trent, but within a year Trent had a full team. Wolff founded both the Trent Figure Skating Club, and the varsity figure skating team. She won the University Athletic Award. Wolff has won medals in multiple provincial championships, and took gold in the 2009 Skate Canada master category. She also won gold in the Adult Women’s World Championships. Wolff is now a school teacher who runs skating teams at her school.

Although not all athletes at Trent University will continue in sports, their time playing sports at Trent is often unforgettable. This is seen in one of Trent University’s longest traditions, the annual reunion of Team Trend. Team Trend was part of an intramural hockey league that was formed in the early 1970s. In the 1976-1977 school year, Team Trend won the Intramural hockey championship, and the reunion was started. While Trent University no longer has a hockey team for the alumni to play against, the alumni still get together every year. The event is organized by John Kennedy ’85, Bill Fields ’71, and David Wright ’74. In 2016, for the 40th anniversary of the Team Trend reunion, these three organizers earned the Spirit of Trent award.

Trent varsity would not be the same without the founding Director of Athletics, Paul Wilson. Wilson was the director form 1966 until 2002 when he retired. Wilson was an athlete himself, and a sports leader. He was heavily involved in squash and rugby. During his 36 year career at Trent, Wilson established varsity sports and also served on several athletic associations throughout Canada. In 2002, Wilson was inducted into the Peterborough Hall of Fame.