Hall of Famer
MAURY VAN VLIET
Inducted in 1997
Dean, Faculty of Physical Education, University of Alberta
President, XI Commonwealth Games Canada (1978) Foundation
Named an Officer of the Order of Canada
Athletic success and a love for sport and recreation often begin in the physical education classroom. Canada's physical educators today learn their pedagogical skills in advanced university programs that owe much to dedicated builders such as Maury Van Vliet. Born in Washington state, Van Vliet attended the University of Oregon on an athletic scholarship where he lettered in football, baseball, and track, and was all-conference athlete in both baseball and football. In 1936, he turned down an offer to play for one of the New York Yankees' farm teams to come to the University of British Columbia. As "director," he was the one-man physical education staff at UBC. He supervised physical education, organized intramural competitions, and coached the university's teams in seven different sports. His UBC teams won the Dominion basketball championship in 1937 and 1941, the Western intercollegiate football championship and the Hardy Cup in 1938 and 1939, the Tisdall Cup in rugby in 1943, and Pacific Coast cross country championship in both 1943 and 1944. Van Vliet's successful programs attracted the attention of the University of Alberta and in 1945 he was lured to Edmonton where he was given tenure as a full professor. Over the next 33 years, Van Vliet oversaw the University of Alberta's physical education programs both as a coach, educator, and administrator. He was the director of the School of Physical Education before becoming dean of the newly-created Faculty of Physical Education. He also assumed the football and basketball coaching duties. His promotion of intercollegiate sport led him to support the founding of the CIAU, Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union (now the CIS, Canadian Interuniversity Sport), and the Vanier Cup, the national championship in men's intercollegiate football. He was also responsible for creating the university's doctoral program in physical education, the first program of its kind in Canada. Van Vliet's influence extended beyond the university campus. He was prominent in the promotion of physical activity and recreation for all Canadians, from young students to elite athletes. He wrote numerous instructional books in physical education, helping to train physical educators at both the primary and secondary levels. He served as the president of a variety of sport and recreation organizations in British Columbia and Alberta and was also a founding member of CAPHER, the Canadian Association of Physical Health, Education, and Recreation. His career culminated with four years as the president and CEO of the organizing committee for the 1978 Commonwealth Games in Edmonton. Following the Games, Van Vliet and his wife retired to Victoria, where they remained active in the community. After returning to Edmonton in 2000 to be closer to family, Van Vliet passed away in 2001. Throughout his career numerous awards and honourary degrees were bestowed upon him and, in 1979, he was invested as an officer in the Order of Canada. Today, the University of Alberta's physical education centre is named in his honour.