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After four decades, Humber’s man behind-the-scenes calls it a career

After four decades, Humber’s man behind-the-scenes calls it a career

Brian Lepp
Humber Athletics Sports Information

ETOBICOKE – Jim Bialek will retire this summer, closing the book on a remarkable career at Humber College.

Bialek, 60, will retire in August after 40 years at the school. He is Humber's first full-time sports information director and the longest actively tenured employee in the athletics department. He has been the one constant around Humber Athletics as the program went from an afterthought on the Toronto sports scene to a national darling.

Soon, he'll be leaving – with plans to enjoy his cottage more, travel more with wife Evelyn and spend more time with his grandchildren. Humber officials honoured him in November, inducting him into the Hall of Fame in front of friends and family, where he received numerous standing ovations.

Few at Humber have garnered as much respect and fondness from colleagues, friends and associates as the respected veteran whose professionalism, understated humour and devotion to his job made him a foundation at the school.

For those who know Bialek, know that he really is a rare bird. Many say they do not like the limelight, but revel in it when it's shined upon them. Not Bialek, he truly hates it.

"These last few months have been a little hard on him," said Evelyn Bialek, Jim's wife for 36 years. "He's flattered with all the attention he's gotten, but he would much rather prefer to be on the other end."

Every morning you can find Bialek in his office, blaring classic rock and typing away at his computer. He's known for using various sayings, or what most around the department refers to as 'Jimmy-isms.' Bialek is always quick to remind you that "manners don't take a holiday" or that "if's and but's were candy and nuts, we'd all have a Merry Christmas."

Bialek grew up a sports fan in Windsor, Ontario, developing a love for baseball by crossing the border to watch the Tigers play. He excelled at baseball and hockey and found noteworthy individual success on the wrestling team in high school.

Upon graduation in 1979, he left Windsor to attend Humber College where he joined the athletics staff as a student employee. That's when he met Evelyn, and the two got married a few years later in 1983.

He wore a few hats around the department before eventually becoming Manager of Athletics/Sports Information Director, expanding his role into the digital age by adding the website, multiple social media channels and the ever-growing Hawks Sports Network. His vision made Humber the most visible athletic department in the country, boasting the most extensive live stream playlist in the CCAA.

For over three decades he served the OCAA in numerous roles as well, including sitting on the OCAA Executive for the past ten years and becoming the first non-athletic director to be named OCAA President in 2013.

"The impact Jim has had on the OCAA and Humber Athletics is second-to-none," said Humber athletic director Ray Chateau. "He has worked tirelessly to get post-secondary athletics across the province to where it is now, and I know everyone league-wide is thankful for his contributions."

Bialek has witnessed Humber student-athletes capture a national-best 52 CCAA titles and 551 of Humber's provincial-best 590 conference medals. No other person in Canada comes close.

An OCAA event is never complete without his presence, as some refer to Bialek as 'the Mayor'. He can spend hours greeting athletes, coaches, parents, and fans – all while telling a story or revealing an interesting fact. However, when Humber is playing in a championship game, you'll be hard-pressed to find him anywhere near the crowd. Call it nerves or superstition, but more often than not, you can find Bialek pacing back-and-forth, or sitting alone observing from afar.

Despite helping Humber become the most successful athletic program in the country, it's the relationships he has developed over the years that genuinely describe Bialek's character. From long-time Blue Jays play-by-play announcer Jerry Howarth to in-arena Raptors game announcer Herbie Kuhn, Bialek's office is occupied continuously with friends he has made during his career. Humber alumni regularly stop by to check-in, reminiscing about the glory days and the journey for which life has taken them. He's widely considered one of the most selfless people you could ever meet, going above and beyond to help anyone in need. The impact he has had on colleagues and student-athletes can only be measured in smiles, and the outpouring of love and appreciation he has received as his career gracefully comes to an end.

As the summer winds down, Bialek will enter the next stage of his life, leaving Humber with one last 'Jimmy-ism': "Stick a fork in me, I'm done like dinner."