These Leaside dads got grit!

GRIT Athletics. Photo by Coldice Creative.
GRIT Athletics. Photo by Coldice Creative.

Have you got GRIT? Do you have what it takes?

Luckily for Leasiders, you can develop your true grit.

“GRIT Athletics is a sport and performance training centre committed to developing athletic, physical and personal excellence,” says the website of a business founded by three Leaside dads. Jeff, Neal and Shady were lamenting over a refreshment a few years back, “We and many other Leaside parents are driving way too far too often to get our kids to indoor winter training. Wouldn’t it be great to have a facility right here in Leaside?” Then they made it happen!

These three dads are grit personified. Jeff Wolburgh is a venture capitalist, Neal Prabhu an architect and design professor, and Shady Ashamalla a surgical oncologist and head of general surgery at Sunnybrook. Their fledging business opened on Laird Dr. as planned, in early March 2020, just as a certain virus entered our lives.

Undaunted, they seized that setback as an opportunity to upgrade the facilities modeling the grit formula articulated by Angela Duckworth in her 2016 book, Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Duckworth’s research for the book answered the question: who is successful in classrooms and workplaces, and why? What GRIT Athletics adds to the formula is coaching expertise for skill development, opportunity to practise and refine skills, and a supportive community. Shady Ashamalla affirmed, “our goal is to build passion, fun and perseverance all contributing to character development.”

The owners cherish their involvement with GRIT. “It’s a very rewarding experience. Although our catchment area is broad stretching beyond Leaside, many participants ride their bikes and even walk here,” said Ashamalla. Jeff Wolburgh added, “we’re really connected to the community so we have the flexibility to respond quickly to requests for things like school PA or snow day camps and to community requests for specific sport training.”

“We have an ear to the ground, and our own kids and their friends influence decisions on switching from one sport to cross train in another,” said Neal Prabhu. “Plus, our synthetic ice surface under the carpet can be pressed into service quickly for coaches or teams looking to focus on hockey skills.”

The facility also boasts access to a large space outside which can be covered with faux turf or synthetic ice so multiple activities can be offered at the same time.

Asked how they juggle their busy lives, Prabhu volunteered, “GRIT is always at the top of our list. We have weekly calls, connect regularly and generally like each other.”

“We have two regularly scheduled anchor groups, Leaside Baseball Association and Leaside Wildcats girls’ hockey, which lightens the scheduling load and keeps the lights on,” Ashamalla added.

GRIT’s owners, who also coach their sons’ teams, get high praise and much appreciation from Trevor Lawson for providing a local training facility where his sons and their baseball teams can refine their baseball and team building skills without driving outside Leaside. In addition to training at GRIT, Lawson’s elder teen son gives back by coaching younger athletes.

For those slightly older Leasiders looking to add some grit, GRIT might in future include adult programming during school hours.

About Suzanne Park 40 Articles
Suzanne Park is a leadership and conversation coach and writer who enjoys bringing to the pages of Leaside Life the unique experiences and community contributions of her Leaside neighbours. Her daughter Zhen, a student at Leaside High School, is also a contributor to Leaside Life with a fresh perspective on her community.