Sound mind, sound body

By Emily Leighton, MA'13

Dr. Bill Terzis, DDS’95, was only 11 years old when he was first introduced to one of the toughest sports in the world. It was the beginning of a special, long-lasting bond – one that has connected him to his alma mater for more than 20 years.

Water polo – a fast-paced game involving as much strategy as it does skill and strength – is his sport of choice.

“Quite simply it’s the most fun I’ve had playing sports,” Dr. Terzis explained. “It requires physical fitness and an ability to think under pressure, in addition to the fundamental skills.”

Despite the enthusiasm, it was a rocky start for this athletic relationship.

As a young and frequent summer patron of Southcrest Pool in London, Ontario, an uninitiated Dr. Terzis remembers being asked to play last minute when the pool’s water polo team was short players for a game.

“I could barely make it to the other side of the pool to pick up the ball,” he said with a laugh. “But watching the older players, the 16-year-olds, race down the pool and throw to the other side, that just lit a fire in me. From that day on, I was hooked.”

This youthful passion for water polo developed into a competitive edge during high school and throughout his university education.In Grade 10, while attending Westminster Secondary School, Dr. Terzis began training with the Western University varsity team. He became a full-fledged member of the team in his first year of undergraduate study, continuing as a Mustang for another six years.

A testament to his achievements out of the water, he entered Schulich Dentistry after only two years of undergraduate study.

Following graduation with distinction from the School, he completed a one-year, general practice residency at Jewish General Hospital in Montreal, Quebec. Returning to his hometown in 1996, Dr. Terzis set up a general family dentistry practice. He works with two associates, focusing on restoring patients’ smiles, dental health and function, dental implants and cosmetic work.

“I think of myself as more of a mouth doctor, as opposed to tooth technician,” he said with a boyish grin. “Restoring someone’s ability to chew or smile, it’s incredible. It keeps me going.” While managing a thriving dental practice, Dr. Terzis hasn’t forgotten his aquatic passion – water polo remains a big part of his life.

He is currently the head coach for Western’s varsity team, a position he will hold for the foreseeable future.

It is a significant time commitment to make in addition to his role as a father to two young children. The water polo season stretches from September to late November, with 10 hours of weekly practice time and frequent travel to games and tournaments.

But despite these responsibilities, it’s a fulfilling experience for the former varsity athlete. “My satisfaction as a coach comes from getting in the water and playing, showing, teaching,” he said. “And I love helping the student athletes as they develop from freshmen into confident adults and leaders during their years on the team. They really motivate and inspire me.”

It seems inspiration comes in many forms for Dr. Terzis. Part of a large Greek family, Dr. Terzis grew up appreciating ancient philosophies on life. He points to one particular Greek philosophy that has helped shape him as an athlete, a coach and a professional: ‘pan metron ariston,’ which roughly translates to ‘all things in good measure.’

Dr. Terzis’ interpretation is one of balance and harmony. “You need to consider your whole person and develop many aspects to yourself,” he explained. “And recognize that a sound mind and a sound body are one.”