A man who changed lives …
Every one of us who goes to school or who participates in sports experiences a number of teachers and coaches along the way. Sometimes, if we’re lucky, one of these people will have a profound impact on us and maybe even set us on a new path.
Jamie Shaw was such a person.
In the years that he was the athletic director and, eventually, the vice-principal at F.H. Collins, Jamie was someone who connected with students and made a difference in their lives. He passed away from cancer in 2018 when he was just 44 years old. On May 16, Jamie will be inducted into the Yukon Sports Hall of Fame. The induction ceremony will be open to the public and held at F.H. Collins Secondary School in Whitehorse. Doors open at 6pm, with the ceremony itself starting at 6:30pm.
According to his brother, Jordan, Jamie had an early affinity for teaching and athletics.
“My grandmother was a teacher. My mom was a teacher in the Yukon, as well,” Jordan said. “He [Jamie] always had a love for sports. Growing up in the Yukon, we had lots of opportunity to participate in sports. He’d gone to the Arctic Winter Games for basketball, and he participated in hockey, growing up, [and in] martial arts. He was always, you know … our family was always into physical fitness—jogging, weight training—since I can remember. So he came by it naturally.
“When he went to university, he got his first degree in physical education, and from there he got his education degree and went to the U.S. for a bit, to teach. He was in Maryland, teaching at a private school there in physical education, and really developed a passion for it.”
As well as his background in physical education, Jamie possessed personal qualities that helped him relate to others on an emotional level, as well.
“Jamie didn’t have things come naturally for him as an athlete: he had to work hard, he had to plan and he had to work with what he had and use those attributes to become a better athlete,” Jordan explained. “He learned to be really empathetic and understanding of others, and I believe that’s why he really seemed to be able to connect with the kids. He was able to connect with them each, individually, as the people they were. It’s the natural intuition, I guess, to be able to communicate with people. He had that.
“He was not trying to build better athletes,” Jordan continued. “He was always trying to help people develop the tools to deal with life outside of athletics, and building those systems that help you deal with problems as they come up. You know, athletes get that through sport … and he tried to equate that to real life. And he applied those same systems when dealing with cancer, when he was diagnosed at such a young age.”
Shortly after Jamie passed away, Jordan moved back to the Yukon where a number of people approached him to start a foundation in Jamie’s name.
“They thought that it would be a great way to keep Jamie’s memory alive and help him to continue to help other people in the Yukon, through athletics,” Jordan explained.
“I’ve got a group of friends of Jamie’s, and colleagues of Jamie’s, who are good enough to help me identify people who they feel—and I feel—would best represent what Jamie believed in, whether it’s in terms of athletic potential, financial need, and how they plan to give back to the community. The emphasis that we have, always, is financial need. There’s lots of resources in the Yukon for athletes, and this one, for us, putting the emphasis not necessarily on ability but on the person and the likelihood that they’re going to come back and help others.”
Since returning to the Yukon, Jordan has met many young people whose lives have been changed by Jamie.
“I’ve had some really great conversations, at times really emotional conversations, about how Jamie affected their lives. He really did have a profound effect on many of the young people I’ve come into contact with. They all have different lessons that he had taught them.
“I’m always really proud of the way he would affect these young people. The comments that always really resonate with me are when a young man or young woman tells me that their life wouldn’t have turned out the way it did had it not been for the way my brother—how his belief in them and what he taught them—helped them get through some pretty tough times in their lives.”
Jamie’s family is grateful to Sport Yukon for recognizing Jaimie’s contribution to sports in the territory and for inducting him into the Yukon Hall of Fame. The organization is also a key player in the success of the Jamie Shaw Memorial Fund.
“We’re extremely proud of Jamie. We always have been,” Jordan said. “[The induction is] just a great way for him to be recognized by his community, and the great people at Sport Yukon are not only super supportive of our memorial fund … they actually do a lot of the heavy lifting in terms of advertising it and getting the word out to potential candidates.
“[Sport Yukon executive director] Tracey Bilsky and her team have just been amazing people to work with. They have a lot of respect and admiration for Jamie—the fact that they’re choosing to induct him into the Hall of Fame. It’s always sad not to have someone you love with you, but having their memory live on and having them recognized for the work they’ve put in and the effort they put in … It means a lot to me and to my family.”
People can donate to the Jamie Shaw Memorial Fund through the Jaimie Shaw Memorial Fund Facebook page, or by visiting jaimieshawmemorialfund.com or sportyukon.com. The fund is run by volunteers and 100 per cent of the donations go back into the community.