It’s the end of an era for the Red Deer College Cross Country Running team as long-time coach Brian Stackhouse is set to retire at the end of this year.
Stackhouse, who was presented with the 2016 Canadian Colleges Athletics Association (CCAA) Coaching Excellence Award during a special ceremony on Tuesday evening, has been at the helm of RDC’s Cross Country program for the past 41 years.
“There’s mixed feelings,” said the 70-year-old of his retirement.
“I used to be a runner when I was in university and when I first started 41 years ago, I could run with the best and the fastest of the college runners. Now I can’t even keep up with the slowest anymore and it’s a real asset to be able to run with the athletes.”
During his tenure at RDC, Stackhouse coached the RDC Queens Cross Country team to 10 Alberta Colleges Athletics Conference (ACAC) championships, including a CCAA National title in 2007, and the Kings team to ACAC gold four times and CCAA bronze three times in 2008, 2010 and 2011, earning the ACAC Coach of the Year award on two separate occasions.
He was also instrumental in the development of the CCAA Cross Country National Championships and was the lead organizer of the first-ever National Championship, held in 2002 in Red Deer.
Because of his many contributions to the sport, Stackhouse was selected as this year’s recipient of the CCAA Coaching Excellence Award by the CCAA and the Coach’s Association of Canada.
“It’s a huge honour. When I looked at the names of some of the other people who have won this award, it’s very nice recognition,” said Stackhouse of the award, which is presented to one coach every year across all sports and recognizes “coaching contributions to sport and to student-athlete development over a period of at least five years,” according to the CCAA web site.
Stackhouse said there were many things that factored into his decision to retire this year, not the least of which being an opportunity to pass the torch onto a younger generation.
“I have gradually been getting older and slower. It was a good year. One of the things that I’m aware of is that there’s at least one younger person who is interested in doing it,” he said, noting that the experience has been one that he’ll cherish forever.
“It is a really neat opportunity to coach college athletes. It’s something that has been a lot of fun for me over the years. It’s been good and it’s good that a younger generation will be taking over, too.”
Stackhouse won’t be going too far from the sport, though. Last week he served as a course marshall at the annual Red Deer Marathon, something he said he plans to continue doing. He’ll also continue to be involved in ACAC Cross Country Running.
“I will continue to be involved in the sport. After I retired I was offered a volunteer position as the ACAC Cross Country Running Convener. I’ll have that to keep me out of trouble,” he laughed.