Famous coaches cling up their clipboards

The reminders of earlier athletic glories are plastered all over health club walls at Oak Park Large University.

It’s a happy legacy and two adult men — lengthy-time varsity women basketball coach Murray Brown and football mentor Stu Nixon — were chief architects of applications that gained 12 of those championship banners.

On Thursday, on the last working day of the 2021-22 academic yr, equally males were being retiring right after prolonged teaching occupations at the Charleswood spot college.

Tears have been lose and recollections were being recounted. There ended up no regrets.

In the final 4 a long time, the 59-year-outdated Nixon experienced been winding down his participation with the Raiders soccer program by stepping down from the varsity boys crew to information the junior varsity squad. His entire body required a split subsequent two hip replacements and reconstructive knee surgical procedures.

“What clinched it for me was we ended up shedding the semifinal this calendar year to St. Paul’s and we came again and we scored the winning landing at the stop of that video game off a quick kick, which was amazing,” said Nixon, who led the Raiders to the ANAVET Cup title as co-head mentor with Gil Bramwell in 2002 and three additional varsity titles in 2007, 2010 and 2014 as perfectly as a JV crown in 2017.

“The little ones were being heading nuts, the coaches ended up likely nuts — we’re going to the closing once more! — and in my head I’m wondering, ‘Another 7 days of observe.’ That’s when it strike me… The children ought to have much more than that. It’s time for me to test out.”

Longtime Oak Park colleague Darren Klapak stated Nixon’s passion established him apart.

“He set in time second to none,” said Klapak. “Film (study) at lunch each day and the children got a serious working experience of what it would be like to it’s possible be a specialist soccer player. He demanded excellence from them and held them accountable in all aspects of college life — not just on the soccer area but in the classroom and in the halls.”

Nixon explained the Raiders soccer plan, now headed up by Chris Ollson, is in extremely able hands. What’s a lot more, Ollson is now educating at the faculty, which Nixon thinks is a crucial ingredient to ongoing achievements.

In 20 years on the occupation at Oak Park, soon after stints at Sisler and Grant Park, Nixon’s impact can been witnessed at the highest levels of the sport.

“You can see with the alumni that are playing in the CFL ideal now that he surely experienced a massive influence,” claimed Klapak. “But further than that, there are a whole lot of children who just are superior folks due to the fact they experienced Stu Nixon as a football coach, not just the Andrew Harrises and Nick Demskis and Sean Jamiesons, but every single child had benefited from taking part in in the program.”

Meanwhile, Brown’s occupation accomplishments amount with the best in background.

In 34 decades and additional than 1,100 online games as head coach of the varsity women hoops squad, he led Oak Park to seven provincial titles — successful in 1998, ‘99, 2004, ‘13, ‘17, ‘18 and ‘19.

The program also developed a regular stream of expertise for groups at the U Athletics amount.

Brown, who played one particular time of JV hoops as an Oak Park student in the late ’70s, was a neophyte to the coaching recreation when he received his start off at the invitation of varsity boys coach Randy Kusano. He realized all he could from the coaching legend and his assistant Klapak.

“Kids pay out notice to what’s heading on and glance for applications,” said Brown. “It’s a single factor to go to university and play for a group, appropriate? But it’s various when a system is superior and Randy ran an exceptional software and Stu ran an superb software in which kids could come and realize success. And so, you’re usually becoming pushed within just the college, appropriate? They were carrying out that so I (knew) I experienced to get my act alongside one another.”

Kusano retired in 2010 and was changed by Jon Lundgren, who took cost of the varsity boys group and went on to obtain three provincial championships before stepping away from coaching in 2021.

Lundgren mentioned Brown was the continuation of a very large conventional of management.

“He has the right perspective of what significant school sporting activities is,” said Lundgren. “He never really made the ego that some coaches do. He won a good deal of video games, which is terrific but I consider he was more about his groups often enjoying the ideal way, playing tough and accomplishing those people things. One particular of his abilities — just looking at him coach females — was he dealt with them like aggressive athletes. That’s what they were being. They ended up a aggressive team.”

Brown, 61, also experienced hip substitute surgery previous tumble, a growth that factored into his selection to retire.

Hillary Eldridge, a former participant, will be the new Raiders mentor this drop but that doesn’t mean Brown will be fading absent. He’s joining the employees of new College of Winnipeg women’s basketball coach Alyssa Cox, one more previous member of the Raiders, while also performing some substitute instructing.

Brown said as the sport changed through the decades, so did his comprehending of the value of substantial college sports activities.

“The kids you’re coaching want to operate tough for the most element and so you obstacle them to function difficult every day and and after I grasped that, we were equipped to do a lot more,” explained Brown.

Nixon also programs to continue to be energetic. He hopes to land a task as a practicum advisor at the University of Manitoba although also managing for election as a university trustee in the city’s Ward 1 this slide.

“A good deal of (retiring) lecturers just substitute educate but I got a ton out of viewing young children develop as persons and towards outcomes,” said Nixon. “And when you’re a substitute trainer, you’re not seriously witnessing that. So, if I had no other substantial designs, it would be definitely, genuinely a unfortunate working day due to the fact I even now really like operating with the young ones but I’ve received a pair of thrilling prospects that are maintaining all those thoughts at bay.”

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Twitter: @sawa14

Mike Sawatzky

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