WOLFVILLE, NS: It may come as a surprise for you to learn that of the five fall sports teams at Acadia University, four of the head coaches are only employed on a part-time basis. This is especially shocking with the successful track record of the fall teams.
“As of last week, of our eleven varsity teams, eight of them at one time or another at sometime this fall have been ranked in the top 10 in the country. It’s incredible, and it’s happening because of the people that I’m associated with, including these people,” says Kevin Dickie, executive director of Athletics and Community Events at Acadia.
All four of these coaches dedicate time to the varsity programs they run, while also working full-time and committing to their own families. Ralph Williams, Matthew Durant, Amit Batra and Findlay MacRae put extensive hours into their programs.
Dickie works closely with all coaches, and recognizes their dedication to success.
“You take a look at our cross-country program, it went from being non-high performing in terms of results to being a top Atlantic program. To me, the clear-cut lynch pin in the whole thing is Ralph Williams. It’s Ralph’s burning desire to have our girls on the podium that has, quite frankly, driven our team to get there.”
Ellen Taggart, a fourth year runner for the women’s cross-country team, looks up to Williams not only as a coach, but also as a mentor.
“Ralph has dedicated an immense amount of time into developing our program into an AUS contender. As an avid runner himself, his positive influence and vision has encouraged a culture change that has been integral in our team’s success. Ralph’s guidance and continuing support does not go unnoticed by his runners and we’re extremely grateful to have him as our coach and mentor.”
Durant, Batra and MacRae have all recently accepted coach of the year recognitions.
“I am just overwhelmingly inspired by what they accomplish with families and full-time jobs. We’re talking about three recent coaches of the year, national top 10 programs, to me the whole thing is incredible,” said Dickie.
The student athletes recognize their dedication as coaches as well. As Sarah Charnock, a third-year keeper for the Axewomen soccer team explains, “(Batra) is incredibly dedicated to the team, so much so that he temporarily leaves his family to stay in Wolfville during the vast majority of the season. We appreciate all that he does and the numerous sacrifices he makes to be a great coach.”
All three show a dedication to their programs, Dickie said.
“I am excited that next year, Matt is going to realize his ultimate goal of hosting a national championship,” Dickie said.
“Findlay is at a crossroads right now in terms of the sustainability of doing both and, fortunately, Amit has just completed year one of a three-year commitment to us, and we’re excited about him wanting to be here. All four coaches are in similar situations, and yet so completely different.”
With the upcoming 2018 fall season already the focus for the rugby Axewomen, the excitement to host the national championships is only building. After her second year as a member of the women’s rugby team, center Tasha Johnson recognizes how fortunate she is to compete with the Acadia program.
“My past two years at Acadia, we have competed at the national championships, I realize that it is thanks to Matt that we are already training for nationals next year when we will host,” she said.
Zachary Visser, a third-year biology student and soccer Axemen, said the team has grown under MacRae’s tutelage.