by John Austen
It didn't take long for Kevin Figsby to get his feet wet. Just two days after being named interim coach of the Concordia men's hockey team, the former CEGEP and midget AAA mentor was taking his new charges on a bus trip to Kingston earlier this month for a pair of games against Queen's and Royal Military College.
The Stingers won both those games and have only lost one of six games since Figsby took over.
After a 6-3 win over Queen's, and a 6-2 decision over RMC, Concordia returned home to play the University of Toronto and Guelph. Once again, the Stingers had little trouble with the opposition, winning both games. That gave them a 9-5-2 record heading into action last weekend. Concordia slipped somewhat, tying Ottawa 4-4 last Friday at home before losing to McGill 6-3 last Saturday. Still, four wins and a tie in his first six games as a university coach isn't too shabby.
"I'm very pleased with the results," said Figsby, after the Kingston trip. "My first day was spent learning everyone's first name. That was the tough part."
Figsby replaces Yves Beaucage, who had run the hockey program at Concordia since 1990. During his 10 years behind the bench, Beaucage had a record of 156-162-22. While Beaucage officially left the team for "personal reasons," there were rumours of growing rifts between the coaching staff and certain players.
"I don't want to comment on that," Figsby said. "My job is to see how far these players want to go and then give them the opportunity to accomplish their goals. That's what I told them at our first meeting."
Figsby received a call from Harry Zarins, Concordia's Director of Recreation and Athletics, at 4 p.m. on January 5. "By 4:03, I'd made my decision," Figsby said. "This is a great opportunity for me. My wife, Debbie, noticed that I wasn't the same person when I wasn't coaching," he continued. "I was itching to get back behind the bench if the right offer came along, and it has. It's great to have my family supporting me."
Figsby is a successful motivator, with more than 15 years of coaching experience at the provincial, national and international levels. He is best known for his work with the Lac St. Louis midget AAA Lions. He was also head coach of the Quebec under-17 team that won a bronze medal at the world championship in 1995 and was a guest coach with the Canadian national senior team at evaluation camps in 1995 and 1997. In addition, he was co-coach of the John Abbott College Islanders with Peter Bender from 1985 to 1992.
"We're thrilled to have Kevin join the staff at Concordia," Zarins said. "In the short time we've spent together, I've been very impressed with his energy, enthusiasm and with his deep concern for the well-being of his athletes. Of course, his reputation as a knowledgeable coach, leader and communicator precedes him."
As per university policy, the job of head hockey coach will be posted shortly. After the current season is completed, a hiring committee will be formed and applications will be reviewed.
"If things fall into place, then I'll apply to be the full-time coach," Figsby said. Kevin and Debbie live in Baie d'Urfˇ with their two girls, Shannon, 13, and Keileigh, 10.