‘Talks with Hawks’ returns in 2021 with a new set of interviews. Episode 28 features members of the current coaching staff. We live in an era where civilized discourse seems to have disappeared. One of the many lessons that football can teach young men is respect. ‘Ballers’ are competitors. We all want to win. We want to dominate the man across from us. We want to beat him up physically. But in my opinion, if we are doing it right, then after we knock that man on his ass, we help him up again. Then, we do it again. And after the game, knowing our opponent has had the same goal, we shake hands. With that in mind, today’s column is about respect for the opposition.
For me, as a high school coach in Peel, the individual I respect the most would be Steve Chylinski. When I was first hired as a teacher at STFXSS, Steve was the Head Coach of the junior squad. He saw my work ethic and how much energy and enthusiasm I had. He quickly incorporated many of my ideas and handed over play calling duties on offence which I loved so much. Without ever even saying anything, that action taught me a lesson. Zoom ahead over 20 years and as a Head Coach of the same squad, I started to ‘hire’ many of my former players (Cory Fernandes, Adrian Dutchak , Corey Williams, Dwayne Richards, and Arthur Dodds) as assistant coaches. I saw their work ethic, their enthusiasm, their energy, and their superior knowledge, and I quickly handed over key areas of responsibility to them. As far as opponents go, I would choose David Ropret. I have known Dave for almost 30 years. He has coached at Pocock and St.Marcellinus in Mississauga. I coached against him often, and I certainly lost more times than I won, but I respected how consistently well coached his teams were and his stoic sideline demeanour. I knew that when my team did in fact beat his team, that we really accomplished something special. In Episode 28, we pay respect to some of our past opponents. The current coaching staff was asked: What opponent did you respect the most and why?
Michael Faulds (Head Coach): As a player, there was a guy I competed against in high school and in university that really stands out. While I was at St. Andrew’s College, we played St. Mary’s Pickering in the 2001 Golden Horseshoe Bowl. They had an amazing stud LB/DE. Fast forward to 2005, and I am at Western and I am playing against this same stud LB/DE in the Yates Cup vs Laurier. In 2001, my team was victorious, and in 2005, his team came out on top. That player that I respected the most was WLU LB Yannick Carter. As a coach, there was this one defensive player on another team who on film was certainly not the biggest or the fastest guy, but as much as we game planned to account for him, he was simply unblockable. Whether it was him making every tackle on special teams or what seemed to be every tackle, sack, and pass breakup on defence, Western LB Fraser Sopik had the respect of our whole team and the whole league. (Editor’s Note: That respect was proven when the Calgary Stampeders drafted Sopik in the fourth round of the 2018 draft. The Stamps’ draft coordinator? Former WLU coach Dwayne Cameron! Interesting to note that BOTH of Fauld’s choices ended up playing for the Stampeders. Carter was drafted by Saskatchewan in the 3rd round in 2007 and played for the Roughriders, the Ti-Cats, and the Stampeders. Sopik is still currently with Calgary).
Ron VanMoerkerke (Associate Head Coach/Defensive Coordinator): My submission is not a player, it is a year. In 2009, the Hawks had to defend against all of the following QBs in the OUA: Michael Faulds of Western who went on to break the USports passing record, Danny Brannigan of Queens who went on to win the Vanier Cup that year and was temporarily the all time USports passing leader until Faulds passed him, Brad Sinopoli of Ottawa who went on to become an elite CFL receiver, Kyle Quinlan of McMaster who later went on to lead his team to two consecutive Vanier Cup appearances in 2011 and 2012, and Justin Dunk of Guelph, arguably the best QB that school has ever had. That made for a challenging regular season.
Todd Galloway (Offensive Coordinator): For me, the players that I respected the most back from my playing days were the linebacker crew from McMaster in the early 2000s. That was Ray Mariuz, Jason Pottinger, Manny Furtado, and Tristan Clovis. I was a 3 hole receiver and it was my responsibility to take them on if they were running an edge blitz. They were big and physical and I had to cut them every time just to survive.
Zach Scotto (Offensive Line Coach): Mark Mackie and Mike Kashak from McMaster. The battles we had with Mac over the years were crazy and those two guys always showed up on every snap no matter what the score was. Every rep was a sight worth watching because there was going to be violence and aggression and we had to be ready to match their intensity.
Vince Flamia (Recruiting Coordinator, Defensive Backs Coach): This is going to sound like I am ‘pumping a buddy’s tires’, but it’s warranted. I have a tremendous amount of respect for Mark Surya. I had the good fortune to be on the same coaching staff as him for the 2016 Yates Cup victory over Western. He has a very cerebral approach to the game and his numerous personal packages made it quite tough for the Western defence. During practices, I remember trying to track any cues in his offence as a defensive assistant and it was almost impossible. Then I moved on to Windsor and he went to U of T. He had a very young roster there and they didn’t win many games (Editor’s Note: Those same facts were true for Windsor too), but as a defensive coach I knew how hard it would be to go up against him. He would scheme against our rules on defence and create chances for his players to capitalize
Jackson Yanchus (Running Backs/Tight Ends Coach): I have a tremendous amount of respect for Jean-Gabriel Poulin. He played LB for Western against us in the 2016 and 2017 Yates Cup games. We know he battled through significant injuries and played the position with a consistency and physicality that few others could. He was assignment sound, competitive, and a very savvy defender.
Nick Rockell (Assistant Running Backs Coach): As a coach in the UK, I always respected those teams that played the game with low numbers, sometimes just a squad of 18 to 20 players. It was impressive that they honoured their commitment to the schedule. As a player, when I was a DB I only ever had 2 WRs take me for 100 yards in a game. One was an Ipswich Cardinal WR named Ian Girling who was just as slow as me but had an absolutely killer ability to quickly change directions. We played against each other often and we are still friends to this day. (Editor’s Note: I’m just relieved to know that when I gave this ‘football respect question’ to Nick Rockell, he knew not to mention soccer. After all, he is from the UK).
Chris Keller (Defensive Assistant): I respect Western Head Coach Greg Marshall. In my time with Laurier, I have scouted opponents’ run games and Western is always so impressive in terms of their strategy, approach, and results. Coordinators and other offensive staff have changed but the success has persisted. The only constant has been Greg Marshall and excellence. I conclude he is the driving force in terms of philosophy, dedication, strategy, excellence, and wins.
Jennifer Martins (Head Athletic Therapist): In my younger days when I played volleyball at the university level in the United States, I had a few opportunities to play against Sarah Pavan. She went on to play at the University of Nebraska where she lead the team to a national championship. Later on, she played professionally in Asia, Italy, and Brazil. She also played on the Canadian Women’s National team and then transitioned to the Canadian Women’s National beach volleyball team competing in the Rio Olympics and was predicted to medal at the cancelled Tokyo Games in 2020. I have always respected her tremendously. Even as a teenager, you could see her professionalism, hard work, and passion for the sport. When around her, I knew I was in the presence of greatness. It was an honour to have the opportunity to compete against her. As is true in some other sports, there haven’t been as many opportunities and as much financial support for women’s volleyball as men’s volleyball. Excellence such as hers has raised the profile of the female version of the sport and contributed to greater respect for it. She is an inspiration to many young women.