The 2021 MBA Games took place online for the first time ever last month, and it was recently announced that Team Schulich claimed first prize — the coveted Queen’s Cup. This accolade was the second time Schulich has won in the last four years, adding to an impressive history of placing 18 times in the last 19 years.
“I’m extremely proud of Team Schulich’s first-place finish at the 2021 MBA Games,” says Provost and Vice-President Academic Lisa Philipps. “York is committed to 21st Century Learning as part of its University Academic Plan. It’s exciting to see this principle shared by the members of York’s winning team, who demonstrated cutting-edge virtual collaboration and teamwork to triumph.”
The win differs from past achievements due to the fact that the team managed to prepare, compete, and claim the trophy without ever meeting in person.
“Winning any competition is always exciting, especially the MBA Games. But this year it felt particularly rewarding, since it was the first-ever virtual MBA Games,” says Professor Joe Fayt, who coached the 18-person team. “It was a great feeling of accomplishment — to work together as a team without being able to meet in person and then win.”
The competition is known as the largest gathering of MBA students in Canada, where participants work for weeks to prepare for academic-, athletic-, and spirit-related competitions. With the competition being shifted online, hundreds of students had to adapt to a very new style of competition.
“Literally everything about it was moved online. The whole process was virtual this year — recruiting, selecting, and training the top students,” adds Fayt. “We have been accustomed in prior years to weekly practices in the gym, and countless in-person meetings to plan and execute all of the activities. But, this year we had to adapt to a completely new format for all categories of the event.”
This year’s theme was “The Future of Work”, and Team Schulich chose to incorporate the new realities of work during COVID-19 into their submissions.
This new reality also played a major role in the presentations themselves. Students were faced with the formidable task of balancing MBA schedules and intense preparation, as well as the unique ways in which competitions were adapted for an online format.
“The athletic team worked literally every day, for eight consecutive weeks, to win the running challenge,” says Fayt. “And our spirit team was challenged to somehow virtually create a dance video to reflect the program theme.”
The team’s video dance submission involves complicated choreography and fancy footwork in the styles of different regions around the world. The coordinated dancing is made all the more impressive by the fact that none of the dancers are in the same place, rather, they dance separately yet simultaneously in what looks like Zoom breakout rooms.
“It was so inspiring to see the team captain, Kunal Taneja, embrace the virtual challenge, and get all 18 team members working together so effectively throughout the whole competition. In spite of the constraints, they were able to develop such a strong team bond, and consistently deliver strong results,” says Fayt.
Following this crowning glory, Schulich has the opportunity to take things to the next level when York hosts the 2022 tournament.
“We’re thrilled to have the opportunity to host next year’s event here at York and showcase our talented Schulich students and faculty to the rest of the country,” says Philipps.