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  • IPSE Society of Alberta

Dino’s Men’s Basketball Team Recognized for Effort off the Court

Team presented with 2018 Inclusion Award.

As the 2018 U SPORT national champions, the Dinos men’s basketball team are no strangers to winning. On June 20, the team was honoured with different kind of award at the Integrated Post-Secondary Education Society of Alberta’s Annual General Meeting.

The society’s annual Inclusion Award for 2018 was presented to Dan Vanhooren and the Dinos men’s basketball team, for their dedication to creating an inclusive campus community. For almost two decades, the Dinos have established space for longtime contributor Bill Hurley, to add to the work and culture of the team. Dan Pearson, assistant head coach, and two Dinos players accepted the award on behalf of Vanhooren and the team.

Bill Hurley celebrates at the 2016 Canada West championship game. Photos by David Moll, for the University of Calgary

A History of Inclusion

For the past 18 years, Dan Vanhooren has been head coach of the Dinos men’s basketball team. A former player in the Canada West Conference at the University of Alberta, Vanhooren graduated with a Bachelor of Physical Education. He went on to obtain his master’s degree in human kinetics from the University of British Columbia. During this time, he worked with the NBA’s Vancouver Grizzlies, and as an NBA statistical analyst in their inaugural 1995-96 season.

Over the years, the Dinos have established themselves as a force in men’s university basketball, and with them at every home game has been their equipment manager, Bill Hurley. Hurley could always get a crowd going as he kicked off the second half of every game by leading the “YMCA” for the audience in centre court.

Hurley’s journey with the Dinos team began 18 years ago, when he began volunteering with the team. The relationship between Hurley and the players quickly took off from there. In addition to helping with equipment, Hurley soon carved his own role as “Wild Bill” — the team’s home court influencer and hype-man. Hurley brings something different to the Dinos culture than any other member of the team, says Dan Pearson, assistant coach.

“He is unique in his personality, his needs, his joys and what he offers the community.” Pearson says. “The days that Bill is at practice are different. There is a lightness to our environment because of the joy he brings, even when that simply means that our water bottles are a bit more filled or a hug is sprung upon a player during a short break. There is a perspective his presence offers that modifies the mood of our sessions that is deeply needed when a game begins to feel like a job.”

Longtime contributor Bill Hurley adds to the work and culture of the Dinos men’s basketball team.

Creating a Stronger Campus

Head coach Dan Vanhooren believes inclusion is valuable to education: “It provides an opportunity for our athletes to experience, learn and respect the challenges and gifts of others while performing a service for another. Leadership is based on a service mentality and inclusion is necessary to the growth of this mindset.”

Pearson feels inclusion is a gift that builds relationships between people with different life realities: “Both parties mutually grow towards a more whole and compassionate experience. This is integral to what we hope for our guys and for anyone who is part of our community.”

The Integrated Post-Secondary Education Society Alberta established the Inclusion Award in 2017, honoring the non-profit’s founder, Murdeen Vavra. They provide campus services at both UCalgary and St. Mary’s University, focusing on both Inclusive Post-Secondary Education (IPSE), and Inclusive Employment for graduates of IPSE. IPSE provides an opportunity for adults with disabilities to have an authentic university experience, from both an academic and a social perspective.

Published online on July 28, 2018 at:

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