Helen Gurney was a legendary basketball coach and a founding member of the Ontario Federation of Schools Athletic Association (OFSAA). She officiated women’s basketball at the international level.
Gurney was born in Whitby, Ontario on October 16, 1918.
In a remarkable coaching career that spanned from 1944 to ’58, Gurney’s Forster Spartans won eight WSSA Girls Basketball Championships and six runner-up medals. Gurney’s teams also won eight Girls Volleyball titles (two Senior and six Junior), seven Overall Track and Field Championships, and 16 Divisional track titles.
As an official, Gurney participated in women’s basketball for 22 years. She refereed international-level games between 1943 and ’65 and edited the Women’s Basketball Rule Book from ’62 to ’67.
Gurney was also heavily involved with the administrative side of sport. She was a founding member of OFSAA in 1951 and continued to belong to the organization until ’77. She was a board member of the Canadian Federation of Provincial School Athletic Associations. In ’80, Gurney became the first woman to receive the Honour Award from that organization.
From 1945 to ’53, Gurney served as President of the Ontario Physical Education Section of the Ontario Education Association.
Gurney was the Canadian representative to the American Physical Education Association. Her publications concerning the history of girls’ sports in Ontario and the history of the Canadian Association of Health, Physical Education, and Recreation were well received.
Amongst Gurney’s many honours and awards, a 1977 Queen Elizabeth Silver Jubilee Medal stands out.