Macari to work with Ugandan Olympic team

Wrestling head coach to assist Uganda Olympic Committee with talent identification, coaching and training camp development and Commonwealth Games preparation

Jamie Macari will be living in Uganda and will not return as the wrestling team’s head coach next season.
Jamie Macari will be living in Uganda and will not return as the wrestling team’s head coach next season.
Journal File Photo

Wrestling head coach Jamie Macari was one of six Canadians selected earlier this month to participate as an intern in Commonwealth Games Canada’s Capacity Support Program. The program allows interns to travel to fellow Commonwealth countries and aid in the organization and preparation for the upcoming 2010 Games in Delhi, India.

Macari left earlier this month and has already begun his 12-month work term in Uganda. During that time he will aid the Ugandan Olympic Committee in administrating and establishing coaching camps and talent identification.

At the 2006 Commonwealth Games in Melbourne, Uganda tied for 15th overall with two gold medals, both in long-distance running, and a bronze in flyweight boxing. The Ugandan contingent to the Games was made up of 51 athletes and officials.

With the selection, Macari won’t return to his post as head coach of the Queen’s wrestling team next season.

Wrestler Matt Di Staulo, whom Macari coached to a seventh-place finish at this year’s CIS championships in Calgary, said he was pleased to hear about the appointment and believes Macari will do an excellent job in Uganda.

“I think he’s probably one of the best people to do it,” Di Staulo said. “He’s a really charismatic, outgoing person who can really help them. I don’t think there are many people who would do a better job than he would.”

Macari is a three-time senior Canadian champion, the only wrestler to ever win five straight OUA titles and is one of only two wrestlers to ever win five straight CIS titles. In the five years he spent wrestling as a Brock University Badger, he went a perfect 35-0. Arthritis forced him to reduce his training and eventually led him to coaching.

Di Staulo said Macari has the ability to make real change in the developing country’s sporting culture.

“I think that sport, especially for me, has been a big impact on being able to include everyone and get people together with a common goal,” he said. “Even if they’re going to be competing against each other, it’s not just the people on your team that you get to know. It’s a great way to help a country like that and he’s a good person to do it.”

The wrestling team’s assistant coach Dave Rowins said Macari’s work at Queen’s has been instrumental in improving the wrestling program.

“He’s a former national champion and he’s had a lot of international experience,” Rowins said. “He came to Queen’s and helped us for the last two years and we’re grateful and happy to see that he’s gotten an appointment that he’s really dreamed about and wanted.”

With Macari’s departure, the wrestling team is currently in transition and looking for someone to fill the vacant head coach position.

“The tradition of Queen’s wrestling goes back over 100 years on the men’s side and the women’s team goes back to the late 1990s,” Rowins said. “There have been a lot of contributions over the years by many coaches. We’ve already got a tremendous regional representation with the Kingston Wrestling Club. They’ve also got their eyes on us hoping that we’ll find a great fit.”

With the opening of the Queen’s Centre in December, the wrestling program has been given a chance to expand and continue to train elite athletes. Queen’s now has two combatives rooms that can be used both to train and to host competitions.

“This building was built for us and given to the Queen’s students with a lot of belief in the core of wrestling and how we can move forward,” Rowins said. “At Queen’s, because of its high admissions standards, perhaps wrestling hasn’t always been the predominant focus as other schools in the OUA.”

Following the adage, “If you build it, they will come”, Rowins said the wrestling coaches are looking at new recruitment strategies moving forward.

“One of the things we’ve just recently developed is an internal communications strategy mainly targeted for recruitment and for developing alumni relations. It takes a whole number of people to move a program to a whole other level, so that’s where we’re going now.”

Along with Macari, the wrestling program will also be losing the services of former athlete and current assistant coach Justin Irwin as he moves on to McGill University to continue his studies next year.

Queen’s Athletics and Recreation Athletics Director Leslie Dal Cin said the program is looking for a coach who can make a long-term commitment to the job.

“Coaching is so important and the longer that we can have a coach working with our program the better. It lets them figure out the vision and the program’s requirements and how we operate, then we can build upon successes year in and year out,” she said.

“We will proceed to move ahead with a new coach. I’m uncertain as to Jamie’s plans for when he gets back—he may stay in Africa, he may look towards a course of career in Canada. We want to make sure we have stable leadership moving forward so we’ll continue with our search.”

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