WINNING WITH MIND GAMES

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By Grant McDonald

With 13 Olympic medals to his name, the most accomplished man at Ryerson’s Sports and Recreation department has never graced the field, court or ice.

Dr. Peter Guy, the high performance coach at Ryerson University and the founder and president of Optimax Human Performance Inc., uses an online psychological test he developed to help student athletes on and off the court. The test analyses the students’ personal lives to help them reach their athletic and academic potential.

“Performing in a sports arena, first you have to perform in life,” Guy said. “You cannot isolate your personal life, your hobbies, your friends, your family.”

The focus of the test is to help athletes determine what programs interest them and ultimately, their career paths. Guy said that when Ryerson coaches recruit athletes, many don’t know what they want to do after graduating. He believes that if students become interested in their programs, it will show in their grades.

He notes that graduation rates among athletes are low, and believes that students need to be excited about their programs in order to do well.

Guy’s help goes beyond test results. He has organized seminars with athletes to help develop a long-term life plan.

Women’s volleyball rookie and journalism student Kasandra Bracken develops her skills by writing concert reviews for Guy. He says he might publish them on the Internet, building her portfolio and helping her find a job. Men’s basketball rookie Ozren Opacic contemplated switching programs after taking Guy’s test. The business management student got a chance to tour the aerospace engineering department and even visited MDA Robotics with Guy and Rams hockey player Chris Sutton, an aerospace engineering student, who was hoping to be connected with a job.

“When you make this decision (to switch programs), you save your life,” he said.

The counselling is also a strong selling point for potential athletes, Guy said. He believes that the system can make a difference for students debating which school to play for. Ryerson, to his knowledge, is the only school to use the system in North America.

Guy’s successful clientele adds credibility to his work. South African swimmer Penny Heyns, who won two gold medals at the 1996 Atlanta Olympic Games, is an advocate of the tests. In a testimonial she said that with Guy’s help, she was able to manage her training and life outside of sports, dealing with stress and external pressure.

In the future, Guy would like to develop a job bank for athletes, where they’ll be able to get in contact with Rams alumni. The belief is that the athletes will want to contribute to a system that helped them out when they were students.

But, Guy sees the future of his program not just restricted to athletics. He is currently pitching the test to other faculties such as the information and technology management (ITM) department, which is said to be showing interest. Ideally, Guy would like every Ryerson student to take the test since they can be processed online.

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