Over 200 people gathered at the Trent Athletics Centre on Saturday, January 26, 2019 to celebrate and honour Paul Wilson, founding athletics director at Trent, for his 80th birthday celebration. Hosted by former alumni director, Tony Storey '71 and alumna Karen Sisson '78, the event recognized the contributions by both Paul and Gillian Wilson to the Trent Athletics community.
The event saw three esteemed alumni come together as part of a panel discussion titled, Ideas that Change the World. The panel was hosted by current director of athletics and recreation, Deborah Bright-Brundle and featured alumni Jennifer Sipos '91, Julianna Stonehouse '09, and Caleb Smith '93 who provided personal illustrations of the importance and enduring value of Mr. Wilson’s leadership and influence.
“An incredibly heartwarming and memorable gathering. Both Gill and I were overwhelmed by the 200 guests in attendance, the speaker’s warm and nostalgic comments, the organization of the program, and the musical contribution. The memories provided by so many alumni were just marvelous and I feel privileged to have known you all,” said Mr. Wilson about the occasion. “Very many thanks to all who made such an occasion possible and for all the cards and messages both from those in attendance and from those of you who were unable to be present. We will always remember my 80th birthday.”
The accomplishments of Mr. Wilson in his 36 years with Trent University, were many. As the longest serving athletics director at any university at the time of his retirement, Mr. Wilson established varsity soccer, hockey, basketball, football, rugby and the squash program. Two years after he took his position as athletics director, 67 percent of students were participating in athletics. There is now a PSB Wilson Fund for athletics and recreation and a PSB Wilson Bursary Endowment Fund, which have both contributed hundreds of thousands of dollars back to the students of Trent University. Not only has he left a lasting legacy at Trent, he has made great contributions to University athletics across the province and to the Peterborough community where he served on City Council and through his continuous volunteer efforts.
Ms. Sisson was recognized with the Tony Storey Alumni Service Award at the event for her longstanding volunteer work at Trent. She has been involved in the Alumni Association and has supported the enrichment of Athletics at Trent for more than thirty years. She has served as the association senate rep, an association councillor on alumni council, and was chair of the athletics advisory committee responsible for the creation of athletic student staff awards which recognize exemplary athletic student staff leadership and performance. Her most significant work has focused on fulfilling Mr. Wilson’s “sport for all” vision. As co-captain of team Wilson, Ms. Sisson organized and led events and fundraising to establish the PSB Wilson Fund for Athletics when Mr. Wilson retired as Director of Athletics, providing critical funding to acquire equipment and improve facilities and programs to maintain and advance Trent’s high standards for athletics.
“One of the most wonderful aspects of the Trent University community is the people who dedicate their energy and love to making this place and the experience for students the best that it can be,” noted Lee Hays ’91, director of Alumni Engagement Services. “Quite often, these individuals are volunteers who like to work quietly behind the scenes, strengthening relationships, securing donations, and moving projects forward. Karen Sisson is one of those unsung, quiet leaders.”