By David Grossman
O’Neil Halstead has made the transition from the volleyball court to basketball hardwood look like a slam-dunk.
It’s been a few years since Halstead last played both sports at Upper Canada College. But now, on the road to a career in social work, he’s passing time, after studies at York University, by sticking strictly to the game of hoops.
Basketball isn’t new to Halstead, who played his fair share as a youngster on a variety of community club teams. He even remembers the first time he jammed the ball at UCC – an accomplishment in Grade 9.
A 6-foot-1 point guard – known more and respected for his excellence in stopping opposing team scorers – Halstead looks back at his alma mater with respect and admiration.
“I was one of the very fortunate people to have had an opportunity to go to UCC,” recalls Halstead in regard to the financial assistance he received from the College.
“For me, a kid from the Jane and Weston area, at first I didn’t know much about UCC – or what to expect. But being (at UCC) changed my life for the better. Dealing with people and learning so much from great teachers – it all amounted to a sense of pride.”
It didn’t take long for Halstead to understand he was a solid fit with UCC.
“It was a great situation for me – a superb school. The people, teachers and coaches, always found ways to make sure I fit in with everyone. I got the feeling, that with hard work and a strong commitment to do well, I was in the best place.”
“My highlight in sport at UCC was being associated with a wonderful group of teammates and coaches; it was a special kind of atmosphere,” says Halstead who, not one for personal self gratification, did score 38 points in a junior basketball game, had a few game-winning baskets and was a top scorer on junior and senior teams.
Focusing now on a degree in Sociology, Halstead said he likes helping people.
“I respect people who help others and I enjoy building strong relationships,” he says. “I’m not really sure what I’ll be doing in 10 years, but social work is very appealing. If I can help people the way they have helped me, that suits me just fine.”