The University of Waterloo has welcomed longtime Laurier staffer Roly Webster as the new director of athletics and recreation.
The position, which had been vacant for over a year, oversees a department with over 600 student athletes, 80 coaches, 32 varsity teams, and 200 recreational programs that bring 30,000 students to Waterloo’s facilities each term, according to a UW Athletics press release.
Webster comes from a post-secondary background, having worked at Wilfrid Laurier University for over 19 years, including as co-ordinator of facilities, events and sponsorship; media relations officer; and associate director of alumni relations. Most recently, Webster held the position of executive director and chief operating officer of WLU’s student union.
Webster said his experiences in higher education have given him a unique perspective to bring to the position at UW.
“I’ve been a student athlete, I’ve been a coach, I’ve been an administrator, and I spent my entire career in higher ed,” Webster said. “That well-rounded perspective and understanding of higher ed and ultimately the life-cycle of a student from the time they arrive on our campus to when they graduate and how to keep them engaged as an alumnus — I’ve worked in various roles that have given me that perspective.”
Webster added that he is “thrilled” to join the team at UW.
“To join an institution such as the University of Waterloo, that has an international reputation, to lead an athletic and recreation department that has a strong history and is well-respected,” Webster said. “I’m thrilled and honoured to have the opportunity to help lead the Warriors.”
Webster said it’s a little early to have a set vision for the department, but he has certainly put some thought into how he will develop his vision as director of athletics and recreation, including spending some time to gain an understanding of the department’s sports structure, the school’s strategic plan and vision, and meeting with Feds to see how the two parties can work together.
“I really need to absorb all of that and get the perspective of the stakeholders and what they think,” Webster said. “Having worked with the student government at Laurier, I understand the value and impact that Feds have at Waterloo and in my interview I had the pleasure of meeting Ben (Balfour) and Danielle (Burt) and others, and I think I really want to get their perspective of how we can work together to come up with that vision of the impact athletics and recreation have on the student experience at Waterloo.”
Chris Read, associate provost, students, said in a UW Athletics press release, “Welcoming Roly to Waterloo is exciting for our students, staff, and beyond as he brings a wealth of experience and knowledge working in a university atmosphere. Roly shares our passion and commitment to providing our students with outstanding athletic and recreational opportunities.”
According to the release, Webster has a degree in kinesiology from Laurier and a master of arts in leadership from the University of Guelph. He will assume his new role Sept. 8.