Miklas missed by all

Queen's University lost one of its most dedicated and passionate teachers and coaches earlier this month when Professor W.E. (Bill) Miklas passed away.

Miklas, former associate dean of the School of Business and longest-serving coach in the history of Queen's athletics, died after a courageous struggle with cancer. He was 60. A recipient of this year's Queen's Distinguished Service Award, Miklas' dedication to teaching young people, emphasis on fundamentals and witty sense of humour combined to make him a vital force in the lives of numerous commerce and MBA students, as well as Queen's football players.

He was indispensable to both the School of Business and the Golden Gaels football program for over 30 years, coaching the offensive line under four different head coaches, under Frank Tindall in the mid-1960s through to Doug Hargreaves, Bob Howes and current coach Pat Sheahan.

"He was an outstanding academician, a great administrator, and he understood the role of athletics within the university," said Hargreaves. "He was a very precise teacher and believed strongly in the fundamentals and more importantly, in the young people who played for him.

He was a tremendous guiding force in football at Queen's, in how it was conducted and how it was perceived. "

Miklas, an Oshawa native ,earned a BA in mathematics from Queen's in 1963 and an MBA in 1965. Playing guard for the Gaels, he was twice a league all-star selection and an integral member of teams that went undefeated two straight seasons. After he was inducted into the Queen's Football Hall of Fame Miklas' competitive nature soon became part of Tricolour lore. "He really was Jekyll and Hyde," recalls Daub. "He was mild-mannered and felicitous in all other facets of life, and during games no one could be around him, because there were all kinds of rage... Once while editing the game film to show to the alumni, Frank Tindall caught Miklas throwing three right hooks on three successive plays." After beginning his coaching tenure under Tindall and pursuing doctoral studies at the University of Michigan, Miklas joined the School of Business in 1970. Three years later, at age 32, he became the executive director of Queen's MBA program. He later became associate dean for a total of 14 years, twice sitting as the acting dean. "The School of Business has progressed considerably over the past twenty-odd years, a lot of it because of him," said colleague Richard Jackson. "There's no doubt he effectively ran the School internally for fifteen years." The students in Miklas' introductory statistics class also held him in high esteem.

"He was very approachable, very funny, took the subject seriously and worked very hard to get it across, which his kids really appreciated him for," said Jackson.

"At the end of the winter term [this year], when it was known he was retiring, both the first-year and senior classes honoured him, a measure of the regard they had for him." As the Gaels' offensive line coach, Miklas' players were consistently proficient and exceeded the sum of their parts. His crucial role in the Gaels' renaissance that began in the late '70s and climaxed with the 1992 Vanier Cup run was recognized in '94 when he received the CIAU's Gino Fracas Award, given annually to an outstanding volunteer assistant football coach

"Every training camp, the offensive linemen would begin with relearning their stances, and progress forward through the whole range of skills required to be a blocker," said Ken Kirkwood, a starting lineman on the '92 national champion Gaels who later coached with Miklas.

"He was the best teacher of the game I have ever seen and was also very patient with kids who needed time to develop. Someone else might not have had success developing players with confidence problems, but Mik's gentle way in teaching allowed him to create very good players where very few other coaches could. " Gentle, however, did not describe the relationship Coach Mik had with referees; the sight of striped shirts caused him to spew invective.

"He was an unbelievably calm, collected, polite person in every other phase of his life, but the stripes of the officials changed him," says Hargreaves, who often assigned Miklas to the spotter's booth to avoid incurring penalties. "At various stages, we even tried have his kids on the sideline to try and calm him down. He would always apologize and start the new season trying to reform."

That one vice notwithstanding , Miklas left a lasting legacy to the university. "I think he was a good person and brought that with him to the practice field and stadium. He coached his players as young men and not just as athletes," says Gaels slotback James MacLean. "He is a terrific role model; his credentials and accomplishments are something we can all aspire to... he was the epitome of what Queen's means and what being a Queen's student-athlete means."

A memorial service for Miklas in Grant Hall drew an estimated 700 people, including some 200 past and present Gaels. He is survived by his wife Susan, son Bill, daughter Sharon, and daughter and son-in-law Judy and Steve Sakell.

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