Renaissance Man

By Fred Hume

To say Nestor Korchinsky is unique is an understatement. Virtually everyone will agree he stands out as a creative, innovative and inspiring leader. His motivational techniques are off the charts.  Yet this gentle giant of a man who, as director of Intramurals and Recreation at UBC, orchestrated the acknowledged renaissance of its intramural program, indeed had a previous life. While a student at the University of Alberta he was an outstanding athlete.  He was an All-Star varsity basketball player, an All-Canadian swimmer and as a university football player was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders of the CFL.

But in our province he is known for his career at UBC, as the popular assistant professor, coach and creative mind behind the engaging of both students and the community in the spirit of intramurals. Some of the events designed to motivate and build this spirit, those created by student staff guided by Nestor, include: Storm the Wall, Longboat, Triathlon, “The Point”, the resurrection of the Arts ’20 relay and the acknowledgement of UBC’s history, history being the path to our future, to quote Nestor.

Perhaps more impressive though, is that through Nestor’s cultivating and mentoring he has shaped and influenced the future of countless students. He did this by discovering the students’ potential. “He launched careers,” says former student and key staff member, Joan Webster. The student volunteers ran the programs while receiving recognition along with a vibrant social life as encouraged by Nestor.

Since the early 1970s Dr. Korchinsky’s vision for intramurals was and is for it to be accessible, to provide the university with “personality and soul” and to kindle a sense of community spirit. Broadening the scope of communication, innovation and participation together with the unique Korchinsky style energy and passion, successfully brought these campus visions to life.

During his time on campus Nestor was, and in fact still is, known to virtually everyone and when he spends time with you, you come away feeling like a million bucks. And he is still there for us and the campus today. It is amazing that one person has had such a profound influence on a campus program for now over 40 years, over half the lifetime of that program.

Nestor was honoured in 1982 with the Great Trekker Award, in 1993 with the Blythe Eagles Alumni Achievement Volunteer Award and in 1996 the President’s Service Award for Excellence. In 2008 he was inducted into the UBC Sports Hall of Fame as a Builder.

Someone once asked a UBC student if he had ever heard of a Nestor Korchinsky at UBC. The student replied, “Nestor Korchinsky is a (expletive) legend at UBC !”