2014 Excellence in Sports Award – Dr. Ivan Joseph


Dr. Ivan Joseph

A chess player and a man who often begins his day before 5am, Ivan Joseph continues to lead individuals, teams and organizations to success with his “can do” attitude.

While serving as a professor and soccer coach at Graceland University (a century-old liberal arts university in southern Iowa), he developed the soccer program from the ground up, leading both the men’s and women’s teams to a Number One national ranking and the men’s team to a National Championship – in just 5 years.

An educator and motivator who has brought about cultural transformation, Joseph is a sought-after speaker on developing personal and organizational leadership. He talks about self-confidence, the “grit” to persevere in spite of setbacks, and leading teams to success.

Dynamic and inspiring, the stories and lessons he shares apply to business and to life.

In his role as Director of Athletics at Ryerson University in Toronto, Dr. Joseph is guiding the transformation of the Ryerson Rams athletic department, improving team performance, while at the same time, raising the academic average of athletes.

He is responsible for strategy, leadership and management of the Department of Athletics and Recreation, which serves the entire university with 11 varsity teams, over 20 multi-tiered intramural leagues, several sports clubs and other extensive offerings.

Joseph made an immediate impact at Ryerson, leading a successful referendum in the spring of 2009. Ryerson students voted 3 to 1 in favour of supporting a new athletics facility.

That vote led to the eventual acquisition of Maple Leaf Gardens, which will add nearly 150,000 square feet of athletics and recreation space for Ryerson. The $100 million renovation of the historic Maple Leaf Gardens was recently completed.

This optimistic man, concerned with student wellbeing, also led Athletics and Recreation through an exhaustive self-assessment that has resulted in the creation of a five-year strategic plan that will guide the annual work of staff, coaches, administrators and stakeholders in support of the vision of becoming one of the top athletic and recreation programs in the country.

Before joining Ryerson, Joseph was Director of Soccer Operations, Head Men’s Soccer Coach and Assistant Professor, Health and Physical Education at Graceland University.

Born in Guyana, he grew up in Toronto where he was a nationally ranked high-school track and field athlete.  He was recruited to Graceland as a student-athlete in 1993.

The 2006 NAIA (National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics) National Coach of the Year and three-time Coach of the Year in the Heart of America Athletic Conference, Joseph led the men’s soccer team to three conference championships, and its first NAIA Men’s Soccer National Championship.

His men’s and women’s soccer programs were consistently ranked among the top in the NAIA polls.

In addition to coaching and teaching, Joseph spearheaded the creation of a premier multi-field soccer complex at Graceland.  He raised significant private and public funds to build the facility, endow scholarships, enhance programs and organize international matches for his teams in Brazil, Canada, and Europe.

He has also traveled domestically and internationally to recruit student athletes.

Joseph holds a BA in Physical Education and Health from Graceland, a MS in Higher Education Administration from Drake University, and a PhD in Sports Psychology from Capella University.