Concordia's Thursday Report

Vol. 29, No.5

November 4, 2004


Kevin Figsby tackles
PhD of coaching

By Craig Anderson

Photo of Kevin Figsby

Photo by Andrew Dobrowolskyj

Kevin Figsby blows his whistle to signify the final laps he expects the varsity hockey charges to complete. The players bang their sticks onto the ice, meaning, “We're ready to do more for you, Coach.'

Off the ice, the popular coach is using his 20-plus years of experience and Hockey Canada instruction to achieve a Level 4 certificate.

The Level 4 certificate program culminates in the candidate defending his thesis before a panel that includes a medical doctor, a psychologist and a physiologist, a four-hour process.

Only 40 people around the world have obtained such a level of coaching instruction. If all goes well, this summer Figsby will join two former Concordia athletes in achieving this elite level of coaching: Julie Healy, a past assistant coach of the women’s hockey team, and Tamara Medwidsky, a much-decorated wrestler.

Figsby was invited by Hockey Canada in 2001 to participate in the program. Of the 24 invited, nine were accepted. Of these nine, three remain. Joining Figsby are Graham Wise, of York University, and Mike Coughlin, of UBC; the three men encourage each other.

Other notables who have attained Level 4 are Dave King (a venerable name in Canadian coaching), Tom Renney (NY Rangers head coach), and Mike Babcock (who coaches the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim).

Figsby came to coaching by accident. He was 20, and playing for the Bishop’s Gaiters. As he was also the Zamboni driver, he often came in early.

While trying to catch a catnap before his shift, Figsby heard a knock at the door from a young atom player. The atom coach was nowhere to be found. The kid asked if he would run the practice, and Figsby obliged. The next week the coach knocked at the door, asking for his assistance.

Since that humble beginning, he took the Junior 'A' Montreal West Knights to three championships, coached at the highest midget level in the country (Lac St. Louis Lions), won a bronze metal with Team Canada at the world under-17 championships, and was guest coach for the Montreal Canadiens in 2003.

Although one of his high school yearbook goals was making the NHL, he never said it would be as a player. His first long-term goal was to play hockey “until I died.” He believes hockey kept him on the academic track, and led to developing interests outside of hockey.

He also obtained his real estate license, a stock broker license, and was the director of marketing and sales for Citibank Canada. Figsby claims he has felt torn at times as to which career direction to take, but if he were Minister of Sport, he would provide more federal funding for children, because team sports prepare them for their adult lives.
Attaining the certificate, he said, implies a responsibility to pass on the knowledge learned. “I would do a level 5 certificate if they offered one.”