After four decades of coaching football at all levels, Fort Frances resident Scott Fawcett always will remember his one-year tenure with the University of Calgary Dinos in the mid-1980s.
And just in May, he continued to reap the rewards from his stay with the Dinos as he was part of the team inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame.
“It’s just a reflection of the fact that we had a great group of people and that everybody had a role in the success of the team,” noted Fawcett.
“Nobody’s role was any more important than the others.
“We needed everyone to get it done, and we had a fantastic group of people who went on to achieve great things in their lives after they left university,” he added.
With two Vanier Cup titles in three years, as well as a trip to the conference final in the other season, the Dinos’ team was inducted May 28 in Red Deer, Alta., along with other sports stars including multiple Stanley Cup-winning goalie Mike Vernon.
From the Dinos’ team in those three years, 20 players went on to suit up in the CFL while others became successful businessmen like Tony Spoletini, who opened Spolumbo’s Fine Foods and Deli.
“It doesn’t really surprise anyone who had a chance to coach them because they were very bright, intelligent people who had great work ethic and those type of people tend to be successful in life,” Fawcett reasoned.
“It was really an outstanding group of individuals and coaches, and it was probably the best group of players I’ve coached in 30 years in terms of intelligence, commitment, and love of the game.
“In some ways, they spoiled me for later years,” Fawcett said.
More than 70 former players and coaches showed up for the induction gala.
“It was great because I was invited to the 20th reunion in 2005 but I was coaching for the [Winnipeg] Blue Bombers at the time and it was right in the middle of our season,” Fawcett recalled.
“The most I could do was send a note of congratulations, so it was nice to be able to catch up with all these players and coaches and renew the friendships.
“You get a pin with the induction but the whole event is what you really got,” Fawcett added.
“The weekend was the reward—just a chance to be there with a whole bunch of people that you can share a special history with.”
Fawcett spent the 1985 season with the Dinos, serving as the defensive co-ordinator, special teams co-ordinator, and linebackers coach, after coming north of the border from the Eastern Washington University.
“It was an amazing challenge to do all three of those roles,” he noted. “Once you have stretched yourself into being able to take care of that many roles, that’s what you get used to.”
After graduating from Fort Frances High School in the early ’70s, Fawcett spent some time playing junior football in Winnipeg before becoming a coach back with the Muskies.
“I ran into [former coach] Jack Hedman walking out of Safeway one day in 1978 and he said, ‘Why don’t you come coach,’ and I got hooked,” Fawcett remarked.
“I got into other situations where there were some very good players around,” he noted. “They were fun to coach and you get hooked on the adrenaline of the whole thing.
“Coaches are nothing more than adrenaline junkies looking for their next hit.”
Once completing his first adrenaline hit with the Muskies, Fawcett moved on to the Blue Bombers as a graduate assistant.
“Like anybody else, you have a lot of people out helping you and teaching you the game, and I was fortunate enough to get an entry level position with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers,” he said.
“It wasn’t a very glamorous job but I sure learned a lot from Cal Murphy and his coaches, and that helped me into a graduate assistant position at Eastern Washington University, which is Division 1AA, [and] from there to the University of Calgary.”
He returned to Fort Frances in 1986 to manage the family business of radio stations in the area, which involved another stint as coach with the black-and-gold.
But with coaching in his blood, Fawcett left to find his next “hit” with the Edmonton Eskimos as the running backs coach and special teams co-ordinator, with legendary Ron Lancaster as the head coach.
In 1999, he followed Lancaster to the Hamilton Tiger Cats, where he won his lone Grey Cup ring.
From there, Fawcett made a couple of stops in the CIS and CFL before he moving back to Fort Frances this year following a death in the family.
Although he does not plan on coaching the Muskies this fall, Fawcett does have a few ideas on ways to bring Fort High’s football program back to prominence.
“Things were a little different with Fort Frances High School back in my day,” he said. “They are having to go outside of the high school to find coaches.
“Chad Canfield is going to do a fantastic job. Bob Swing came out of the community as a coach,” he noted.
Back in his day, however, the teachers held most of the coaching positions, including principals like Brad Saunders and Jack Cameron.
“I don’t quite understand how you have successful soccer programs at the high school because they are run by some outstanding teacher-coaches like Sarah Noonan and Shane Beckett,” he continued.
“Chad Canfield’s job would be a lot easier if he had a couple of assistant coaches who were actually teachers. People who could help keep the players accountable for their academics and their behaviour in the school because they knew what was going on with them.
“All it takes a little enlightened leadership in the school system,” Fawcett stressed. “Hire more sorts of teachers who are qualified like Sarah Noonan and Shane Beckett.
“Guys who are interested in coaching football who played university, and that would definitely be a big aid to Chad and the program and help things internally,” he reasoned.