Queen’s looking for full-time success

Queen’s now investing in coaching in rugby and soccer with hopes of sustained improvement

In an attempt to bring more consistent success to their athletic programs, Queen’s announced earlier this summer that they will be investing in full-time coaching positions for men’s and women’s soccer and rugby.

“For us, this is certainly an elevation of our programs,” Leslie Dal Cin, executive director of athletics and recreation, said.

With this move, cross-country remains as the only varsity team without full-time coaching. By doing this, Queen’s is nearly at its goal of having all varsity teams with full-time coaching, which was established in 2010 as a part of their Competitive Sports Model.

For Dal Cin, the investment is seen as a two-pronged advancement for the school’s athletics. Not only will it provide an increasingly stronger commitment to their programs, but it will also allow teams to keep pace with other rivalling school’s similar commitment to building top-tier athletic teams.

“[It is] recognizing the demand of the programs in terms of the need for year-round training, the out of season competition that is becoming a lot bigger part of those two programs and where you really make your biggest gains, which are actually in the off-season,” Dal Cin said.

Just like athletes who train throughout the summer, a coach’s season doesn’t end with the final whistle.

“Recruiting and off-season training is becoming more important, [along with] the alumni, fundraising, community development and having opportunities to professionally develop with provincial and national teams,” Dal Cin explains. “Those pieces are worth more than 20 percent of a person’s time now.”

The real proof lies in results. Two years after taking on a coach full-time, the women’s volleyball team won the Ontario championships in 2011-2012. 

After moving Matt Holmberg to be the full-time coach, women’s hockey has been a perennial top four team in the OUA, winning a provincial championship in 2010-11 and 2012-13. Across athletics, other teams have seen a measurable increase since moving their coach to full-time as well and will only continue to trend upward as more alumni throw their support behind Queen’s varsity teams. 

“In my view, you need four things to have a really great program,” Dal Cin said. “You need a great coach, you need fantastic athletes, you need [a] good facility and you need a very supportive program around [the athletes] academically and athletically.” 

“When you have all four of those and you have the right people leading, great things happen.”

Dal Cin also noted that though investments of this type have generally lead to success, Athletics and Recreation monitor the happenings within teams — particularly their success rates — to ensure positive growth for its programs. 

And Queen’s has begun to act on these promises as of late. 

Veteran women’s soccer coach, Dave McDowell, was recently given a full-time position as the technical director of both the men’s and women’s soccer teams. In rugby, the Gaels will see two new faces, as Dan Valley will take over for Beth Barz as the women’s rugby coach and David Butcher was announced as the new men’s rugby coach. 

By moving to the full-time model, Queen’s has attracted some of Canada’s budding stars in the coaching community. Prior to taking the women’s rugby job, Valley was head coach of the Rugby Canada U18 Women’s 15’ programand is also a Technical Lead for the Canada 7’s NextGen program in Ontario.

With this new leadership, Queen’s now rounds out a large group of varsity programs with coaches that will not only try to help bring Queen’s to OUA glory, but create a long-lasting trend of success for men’s and women’s rugby and soccer.

Queen’s announces new Women’s Volleyball head coach

Following the departure of Michael Ling on May 10, Athletics and Recreation recently announced that Ryan Ratushniak would be stepping in as the new women’s volleyball coach. 
A former assistant coach with both the women’s and men’s national teams, he was most recently an assistant coach for the men’s team at the University of Manitoba.


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