Stan Gill

Legendary Mt. Doug track coach to be honoured at school’s 80th anniversary

Coach Stan Gill led Mount Doug to five track and field championships, and plenty of second-place finishes

The names of previous track and field winners are printed too small in the souvenir event program for Stan Gill to read without taking off his glasses. As he scans the categories, his finger picks up the names of Mount Douglas secondary athletes and his memory fills in the rest.

From his arrival in 1963 until his retirement in 1997, Gill cultured a track and field renaissance with Mount Doug. The school laid claim to dozens of individual and team provincial championships.

On Saturday (Nov. 19), Gill and four other coaches, Earl Hockin (basketball), Dave Barker (soccer) Al Cochrane (football) and Mark Townsend (football) will be recognized at Mount Doug’s sports social and coach honouring, with a no-host bar, part of the school’s 80th anniversary celebrations this month.

It takes place in the school’s gymnasium, where Gill’s influence is omnipresent on Mount Doug’s Wall of Champions.

As “the only phys ed teacher” at Mount Doug in 1963, which was at the site now known as Cedar Hill middle school, Gill willingly took on the role. He was, however, a little unsuspecting of just what the school would soon accomplish: provincial team championships in 1969, ’70, ’75 and ’76, with second place finishes in 1968, and from 1971 to ’74. Mount Doug was first again in 1984.

“I guess there was some luck. We had some great athletes,” Gill says. “And I usually had helpers (coaching), especially with high jump, long jump and throwing.”

To hear his pupils now, Gill clearly had a gift and his influence was immediate. In 1966, Stephen Hume was part of a group that “started it all,” Gill says.

Hume, who is now an author and journalist with the Vancouver Sun became the first Islander to crack the two minute mark in the 880-yard dash (805 metres).

“Gill was far-sighted and at the leading edge of training techniques,” Hume recalls. “He coached me in the middle distances but made me work just as hard at sprints and the two-mile as well, which really improved my all round fitness. That summer I broke a Canadian junior record in the 1,500 metre steeplechase the first time I ever ran the event, entirely due to Gill’s coaching.”

Science wasn’t half of it, as Gill understood the art of coaching, says UVic Vikes track and field coach Brent Fougner, who was B.C.’s top triple-jumper when he graduated from Mount Doug in 1975.

One of Fougner’s first coaching jobs was to come back and assist Gill in the late 1970s.

“Gill got the best out of people. I think back on how I coach now and I have to admit, I say ‘How would Stan do this, or, approach this situation?’

“A lot of people will say Stan was instrumental in getting them to continue competing after high school.”

Fougner’s part of a vast network of people who were influenced by Gill. Brent’s wife Trish (Wellman) was B.C.’s top 1,500m runner in 1982, and Keith Butler, who coaches cross country with Fougner at UVic, was B.C.’s top 1,500m runner in 1980.

Because of Butler, Oak Bay High has been the province’s biggest and strongest team, winning six of the past seven combined boys and girls team trophies, including nine straight girls team championships. He is now full time with UVic.

“The way it is at Oak Bay is what Mount Doug was like in 1969,” Gill says. “We had specialists and drew athletes from other sports.”

Saturday’s social is a licensed event, a perfect place to ‘warm up’ before heading across the street to UVic for Mount Doug Idol with David Foster and Nelly Furtado later that evening, said alumni coordinator Les Bryan.

Like Gill, Earl Hockin and Dave Barker no longer coach at Mount Doug but football program creators Al Cochrane and Mark Townsend do. Cochrane and Townsend are the only currently tenured coaches to have been singled out for the sports social and coach honouring. The Rams made football history, putting Victoria on the map with the junior and senior AA championships in 2009.

Tickets for the the sports social and coach honouring are $20 and are available from mountdougalumni.com. The event runs from from 3 to 6 p.m. in the gymnasium. No one under 19 permitted.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Scarlet fever reported at Victoria elementary school

Parents advised to look for symptoms of ‘strawberry tongue’ and rash

Saanich dog walkers react to potential review of bylaws allowing off-leash dogs on beaches

Focus should have remained on migratory birds, not on dog behaviour, says Cadboro Bay dog walker

No dogs allowed off-leash at Luxton Fairgrounds in Langford

New sign placed by Metchosin Farmers Institute on Wednesday, Feb. 19

North Saanich’s Deep Cove Market up for sale for almost $1.8 million

Long-time owner Rosemary Scott hopes the public will understand her decision

Council approve temporary storage to extend life of Oak Bay Fire Hall

It’s cute, it’s iconic, but the picturesque Oak Bay Fire Hall is… Continue reading

Protecting privacy key to stopping spread of COVID-19, B.C. health officials say

The number of coronavirus cases in B.C. remains at seven

Toffoli scores OT winner as Canucks beat Habs 4-3

Demko makes 37 saves for Vancouver

Private clinics would harm ‘ordinary’ people using public system in B.C.: lawyer

Health Minister Adrian Dix announced in 2018 that the government would begin to fine doctors $10,000

B.C. terminates contract with hospice society refusing assisted death

Delta Hospice Society loses hospital service fund of $1.5 million

Child in hospital following fatal crash that killed father, sibling on B.C. highway

The single vehicle crash occured near Kamloops on Highway 5A

‘Die!’: Vernon councillor mailed death threat

This story contains information that might be sensitive to some readers

Hidden message connects Castlegar homeowners decades apart

The Rodgers family was surprised when a message fell out of the walls as they were renovating

Two B.C. men plead guilty to bus-terminal assault of man with autism in Ontario

Parmvir Chahil and Jaspaul Uppal due to be sentenced in June for aggravated assault

Most Read