A builder is not only one who constructs but is a designer. One who constructs with vision.
Mary Nichol came to Burlington in 1972 to teach at Lord Elgin High School - one of two designated province of Ontario Innovative Secondary Schools. A graduate of the University of Western Ontario, Mary taught physical and health education. Her creativity in and out of the classroom – as well as her commitment to kids – earned this trail-blazing educator the prestigious Ontario Physical and Health Education Association Innovative Award in 1976.
Gymnastics is Mary’s passion. In 1980 she joined the Burlington Gymnastics Club where she served as a judge, administrator and board member in various capacities. For Canada, Mary was a judge at the Canada Winter Games in 1979 and 1983, the 1994 Commonwealth Games, and the 1995 American Cup, as well as National Championships for 20 years. As a highly respected BREVET judge Mary was invited to adjudicate competitions around the world from 1985-97.
Mary is still actively involved with the Burlington Gym Club – one of the largest gymnastics clubs in Canada. Her impact on the BGC has been profound. Among Mary’s creative contributions: the Annual Burlington Spring Cup Invitational Gymnastics Competition – initiated in 1988. Mary continued her commitment to the event by convening for another ten years.
In 2002 – with her tireless work ethic – Mary created and convened an international Spring Cup involving ten countries from around the world. The competition spanned two weekends of international competition. The Spring Cup is now the largest invitational Artistic gymnastic competition in Canada with over 2000 athletes competing in all levels of difficulty in both Artistic and Rhythmic Gymnastics.
Mary’s involvement and influence in Burlington gymnastics is only part of her story. For three years, 1978-81, she served as a member of the Board of Directors, following her 6 years chairing the Rec Ed Committee for the Ontario Gymnastics Federation (OGF); and the National Judging Committee for the Canadian Gymnastics Federation (CGF) from 1987-96.
In 2002 Mary became an original board member of the Burlington Sport Alliance. She served as chair from 2010-2015. In 2004 the first Burlington Sport Recognition and Awards Dinner was created to honour athletes, coaches, officials and builders. Mary chaired the dinner for seven years.
Arguably, Mary’s greatest contribution to sport in Burlington was her vision for a Burlington Sports Hall of Fame. Through her initiative Mary arranged with city officials to endorse a proposal for a Burlington Sports Hall of Fame. In 2007 work began in earnest. And – in 2008 the Burlington Sports Hall of Fame was launched. Initially the inductees were honoured in concert with the annual BSA Recognition evening. In recent years the induction has been hosted at the Burlington Golf & Country Club.
Like the “Energizer Bunny” Mary just “keeps going.” She is committed to community – and – especially to kids. Concerned about the well-being of disadvantaged children in Burlington who could not participate in sport due to formidable fees and equipment costs Mary gathered a group of “like-minded” individuals and created “Have a Heart for Burlington.” Its’ mandate: to provide sport and recreational activities for these children. HAHB, now well established is a partnership with the Burlington Sport Alliance, Halton Housing, Boys and Girls Clubs of Hamilton-Halton, Art House, Our Kids Network, Halton Public Health and the Halton Police Services, serving youth in our community.
It is fair to say that Mary’s commitment to the sporting community in Burlington may be unparalleled.