17 6 / 2014


You’ve seen the construction. You’ve read the news. The Pan American Games are coming to Toronto, and they’re bigger than before.

But for all the talk surrounding the Games, what do we know about the athletes who hope to qualify for the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games?

To learn who they are and what drives them, we’ve teamed up with three accomplished U of T athletes. We will watch them train. We will ask them about their fears and hopes. We will find out what keeps them awake at night. And through it all, we will offer you tips on how to use the athletes’ techniques to overcome your own daily challenges.

Meet the Athletes


An economics and political science major from Oakville, Zack Chetrat has been a member of the Canadian National Team in the 200-metre butterfly numerous times. Zack was named U of T’s male athlete of the year in 2011, 2013 and 2014, thus becoming the only male to ever win this award three times. Zack has begun preparation for the Pan Am Games with one surprising strategy: taking the summer off and creating a new business that aims to empower other athletes.


Besides graduating from U of T with a master’s degree in architecture, two-time Canadian champ Donna Vakalis has also found time to enroll in a PhD program and compete at the Olympic Games in London (where she finished in the top 30 in the women’s modern pentathlon event). Follow Donna on Twitter or visit her website to read chronicles of her competitions and her musings on travelling with a laser gun.


Heralded as the next big star in Canadian university field hockey, Waterloo native Amanda Woodcroft is a Physical Education and Health major at U of T. She was named field hockey’s rookie of the year in 2011 by the Ontario University Athletics conference and was a member of the Canadian team that competed at the 2013 Women’s Junior World Cup in Mönchengladbach, Germany. Follow Amanda on Twitter.

Stay Tuned

As you join these athletes on their voyage, you will not only learn from them, you will also be inspired by them. We know we are. To make sure you don’t miss out on our #TO2015UofT posts, subscribe to our blog or follow us on Twitter or Facebook..

To learn more about U of T’s and Hart House’s involvement with the Pan Am/Parapan Am Games, please visit our website

Photo of Zack via Jing Ling Kao.