This past weekend the 1993 Queen’s Men’s Soccer team reunited in Kingston to celebrate the 30th anniversary of our OUAA championship season.
Players from the ’93 team travelled from as far as England and California in a testament to the lasting bonds forged that winning season. While all living teammates attended the reunion, team member Chris Turner passed away in 2004. A courageous and creative left-footed midfielder, Turner played five seasons and won two OUAA championships. He is sorely missed.
After an evening of socializing, on Saturday, we played an intersquad scrimmage at Richardson Stadium followed by a left-footed penalty kick competition in honour of Turner. Former goalkeeper Liam Stevenson made dazzling saves, reminiscent of his ’93 rookie season while foreshadowing a spectacular shut-out performance from current Gaels goalkeeper Connor Adams, ArtSci ’25, hours later between the same set of goal posts.
After rehydrating on a downtown patio, we returned to the stadium to witness the Gaels women’s and men’s teams thump Toronto Metropolitan University (TMU) 5-0 and 3-0, respectively. Adams’ inspiring performance for the men’s team included stopping nine shots and two penalty kicks—a performance which named Adams OUA athlete of the week.
The ’93 team was honoured before the game, and according to Men’s Soccer Head Coach Christian Hoefler—who was an instrumental figure in organizing the reunion—the alumni’s presence and support gave the current team a discernible lift. In the evening, the old and young boys mingled downtown, continuing a tradition of camaraderie that’s defined the program for decades.
Dr. John Walker—or Doc to us—the head coach in 1993, blessed his former team with an appearance at the reunion. He watched the scrimmage and entertained with the same dry humour that punctuated grueling training sessions years ago. Doc’s philosophy emphasized fitness and discipline, with slogans like “money in the bank” and “no mistakes at the back” being critical ingredients in the 1993 and 1995 championship seasons.
“Thirty years may have passed,” Walker said, “but it’s always a pleasure to meet up with the Queen’s Soccer old boys, and this group of champions in particular.”
During the 1993 and 1995 banner seasons, Queen’s wasn’t the most skilled or highly ranked team in the OUAA.
Former captain Marc Labrom reflected on the unexpected success of ’93 season.
“It was one of those times you occasionally see in sport where a host of factors combine against the odds to produce a really special run—inspirational coaching, a group blessed with talent, but especially great heart and togetherness,” Labrom told The Journal. “We perhaps benefited from the belief that sometimes comes with the confidence—and even ignorance—of youth. We didn’t know we probably shouldn’t be winning and that freed us to rise to the occasion and surprise everyone.”
About half the players on the ’93 team were rookies. Though a rarity at the time, this added to the team’s sense of cohesion. The team hung out off the field and had fun together, which was something we had no difficulty replicating this past weekend.
“We had big group of rookies who didn’t know any better than to work their tails off for each other and expect success,” former defender Rich Price, a rookie in ’93, reflected. “The coaches and veterans guided and pushed the rookies, resulting in a team that was scrappy and close-knit.”
In team sports, chemistry matters, and it’s the confluence of physiological, social, and emotional forces that elevates a team’s performance. Though it isn’t easily manufactured, the ’93 team possessed a chemistry that gave us an edge. With us, the whole became far greater than the sum of the parts.
“It was a special year with twenty players focused on one thing. We all brought different pieces to complete the puzzle. Most importantly, we knew how to get along as team,” former striker Dan Cheney said.
The Queen’s Soccer program—like the university itself—has evolved over 30 years and the signs of progress were palpable to the ’93 team this weekend. Richardson Stadium received a major facelift that extended beyond the field and into stands and dressing rooms.
The players are more skilled and prepared, and play year-round in better facilities. Most players today focus solely on soccer, whereas in the ’80s and ’90s some athletes played multiple sports on a seasonal basis. Nutrition, strength training, flexibility, injury prevention, mental fitness, visualization, and the concept of good habits—a motivational slogan in the men’s dressing room—are more ingrained in the program today.
After the weekend, Walker reflected on the ’93 reunion and program which he directed for decades.
“These ‘boys’ and their enthusiasm are proof enough of what we have always known over the years—that our soccer team is something special, more like a family,” Walker said. “We have our memories, our stories […] long may it continue. I look forward to our 40th anniversary.
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