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Gee-Gees interim head coach released after 0-5 season

Maclaine Chadwick | Fulcrum Staff

Photo courtesy of Sports Services 

At the beginning of this season, Gary Etcheverry was handed the ideal football team, boasting ten returning captains, record-holding and all-Canadian players, and a fresh batch of talented and eager rookies. Less than five months later, he has been let go from the coaching position.

The Gee-Gees football team has spent their 2012 season facing hurdle after hurdle.

First, their head coach Jean-Philippe Asselin announced his resignation from the team upon accepting a position as offensive coordinator for the up-and-coming Carleton University Ravens football program.

Then there was the relocation of the Gee’s home turf from Frank Clair Stadium to Beckwith Park while an on-campus sports field is being completed.

To say the season got off to a rough start is an understatement, but players and administration alike held out hope that Etcheverry would lead their team to success—until Sept. 30 when he was released after failing to win a single game.

“I think at the beginning of the season, hopes were high and a lot of the players bought into a lot of the things that the coaches were saying—the schemes, the personnel, bringing in new coaches,” explained Brendan Gillanders, fourth-year running back and captain. “[But] somewhere along the way there was a lapse in communication between the players and the coaches, and that accumulated into a much bigger problem and a little bit of division within the team.”

It was after the second game of the season, which the Gee-Gees lost 47-36 to the York University Lions—a perennially weak team—that brought Etcheverry’s double-wing formation into question.

“I think everybody on the team, coaches included, felt that the York game was a game that we should have won, so that did raise a lot of eyebrows,” said Gillanders. “However, it’s a results-based profession, so any time a team goes 0-5, eyebrows are always raised.”

Colin Timm, assistant director of programs for Sports Services said that the losing streak forced the team to reevaluate their coaching staff.

“Historically, we’ve had such a strong program and strong sense of success, so for us going through the season … losing is very difficult,” he said. “When you start seeing repetition in that, you have to start questioning everything in the team, not just leadership but things that we can be doing to find a better way to get that win.”

Etcheverry’s release follows a loss to the fifth-ranked Queen’s University Gaels on Sept. 29, even though the game was arguably their best his season.

The team members and Sports Services administration are still looking to the future with high hopes.

“Come out to a practice during the week now and [see] the cohesion between our coaching staff and our players—the willingness to learn and the willingness to help; this is a team that is very close and very tight-knit and confident in what they can do,” explained Timm.

Gillanders and his teammates are relieved about the shift in coaching strategies that the Gee-Gees will finish the season with.

“Everyone views this as something that needed to happen,” said Gillanders. “We are all extremely competitive, we all want to win, we all want to be put in the best possible situation to win, so in terms of the team and where our head is at, we are just going to try to win the next three games.”

On the evening of Oct. 1, Sports Services announced the additions and modifications to the coaching staff that will carry out the final three games of the season, as the search for a long-term coach gets underway.

Assistant head coach and defensive coordinator Cory McDiarmid, offensive coordinator Corey Goff, quarterback coach Wayne Jacobs, and defensive backs coach Joel Lipinski will all remain in their respective positions.

Marcus Adams will take on the role of assistant coach to both offense and defensive coordinators while Luigi Costanzo and David Miller will continue overseeing special teams; Costanzo will extend his responsibilities to coaching running backs as well.

Additions to the staff include Gees’ football alumnus Kyle Kirkwood—who will fill Adams’ role as offensive line coach—as well as alumni Cyril Adjeitey, Matt Edgeworth, and Tyler Aldercotte, who will all work part time with the wide receivers.

Timm outlined three main goals for the team: winning the next three games, reviewing recruiting procedures for coaches and players, and moving forward together as a team.

“We’re probably situated in the best position we possibly could be at this point to move forward, but the future for Gee-Gees football is a dramatic increase in development and investment that’s going to carry us forward,” he said.

The Gee-Gees will play their sixth game of the season against the University of Toronto Varsity Blues on Oct. 6. The next home game will be played at Beckwith Park against the University of Waterloo Warriors on Oct. 13.