Four major outcomes from Sportball and U of T’s occupational therapy student placement

This past summer, Sportball partnered with the University of Toronto’s Department of Occupational Science and Occupational Therapy to create an 8-week placement for two students to join our Coaches on the field to observe, evaluate and make recommendations for our programming.

Working together was a perfect fit. Occupational Therapy takes a holistic approach to healthcare (physical, cognitive and psychosocial) and focuses on providing people with skills to help them function in their everyday lives, whether it’s for self-care, leisure or work. At Sportball, we also take a holistic approach in our Coaching methodology by placing equal importance on building gross motor, sport and social skills in our programs.

As a result, this exciting opportunity led to four major developments:

1. We’re gathering data.

Measuring success

Our occupational therapy students Sean Fleming and Melanie Kasner created detailed charts that outlined children’s developmental milestones in the areas of gross motor, fine motor, cognitive, psychosocial and sensory development specific for each Sportball age group.

We’ve always believed that introducing children to sports and games earlier in life makes them more likely to grow into healthy, active adults. Now, we are taking steps to measure how this works.


2. We’re coaching with an even greater sense of purpose.

Sportball Coaching with Purpose

Our philosophy in all our Sportball classes is to “Coach with Purpose.” This means there is a reason and a “purpose” behind every skills, game and activity in every program we offer.

By tracking the impact of Sportball programs, we get to validate our impact on our lesson plans and activities as well as gross motor, sport and social skill development. We’ll also be able to better communicate the benefits of physical literacy to our families so everybody wins, especially our kids!


3. We’re more inclusive.

Sportball Adapted Kit

Our Coaches’ Adapted Kit provides resources to integrate children of all ability levels, such as picture cards that are used to as visual cues to help children understand the sequence of activities for their class.

Thanks to the recommendations of our occupational therapy students, Sean Fleming and Melanie Kasner, we’ve further expanded our reach and inclusiveness to children of all abilities. We built an Adapted Kit for our Coaches that will support kids with additional needs in our adapted programming as well as including more children with functional impairments in traditional Sportball programs


4. We’re expanding our network.

Jason describes the impact of the student fieldwork placement at Sportball. Almost 100 faculty and status faculty members in attendance at U of T’s Hart House for yesterday’s assembly.


(From left to right): Sportball co-founder Mark Gelgor, Business Development Manager Brandon Smith and Training Director Jason D’Rocha are all smiles before the big presentation.

This past Wednesday, Dec. 4, we had the honour of joining U of T’s Department of OS&OT’s Annual Faculty Assembly to share our success to a packed room of academic peers. The team presentation was led by Sean, followed by occupational therapist supervisors Sara Noble and Andrea Duncan, and closing with our Training Director Jason D’Rocha. From the keynote speaker to session attendees, we were pleasantly surprised by how many times we were approached by colleagues who were also Sportball parents or fans of our program.

After completing their placement, Sean and Melanie have maintained a relationship with our Sportball team and are consulting with us to implement the resources they created. Sportball and U of T’s Department of OS&OT also have plans to continue collaborating with future student occupational therapists on new projects.


At Sportball, we’ve always tried our best follow our mission to make a difference in the lives of children. We’re very eager to see what the future holds in store for Sportball programs and the families we reach.

What do you think of the new changes ahead for Sportball? Are you an educator or academic who is also a Sportball parent? Comment below and share your thoughts!

6 December 2013 by