December 17th, 2017

Horns emotionally turn to the past

By Lethbridge Herald on July 18, 2017.

A ‘Good Sport’ column by Dylan Purcell

Ashley Steacy and Neil Langevin will coach the University of Lethbridge women’s rugby team next season.
They’d rather not.
Langevin, a three-time national university champion coach and veteran national team leader, has already walked away from the job once. And if he wanted it back, he didn’t want it like this.
Steacy, a three-time national university champion player and veteran national team captain, would probably like to explore a few other options. If she wants to be the Pronghorns coach, she doesn’t want it like this.
When Ric Suggitt, the human external combustion engine, left this world earlier this summer, it left the Pronghorns in a tough spot.
Firstly, the athletics department, players and fellow coaches had to mourn and come to grips with the death of Sluggo, a human motivational poster and friend. This is rare air for them. They also have to make sure their players are looked after. When a school recruits players, it takes on a responsibility to look after their athletic careers, and a new coach was needed.
That’s easier written than done. For the most part, a numbness has likely taken over. They haven’t even memorialized Sluggo, and they’ve got to replace his position.
The Horns named Steacy and Langevin as co-coaches on Monday. It was a no-brainer decision. Langevin can oversee and mentor Steacy, an Olympic bronze medallist and walking motivational poster herself. She’s got the chops to coach and will surely be helped by her many friends still associated with the program. Who among the team’s alumni is going to refuse a request from Patz, the program’s most decorated player?
She’s happy to have the job, but there’s a tug of tragedy to it, the loss of Sluggo. When I first read the press-release quote from Steacy, I knew it was true: She was overjoyed to have the job. But she didn’t want it this way.
Langevin, too, will be happy to be back coaching. He’ll mentor Steacy and guide the program but he’ll miss the dynamic burst of mania that Sluggo personified.
Langevin and Steacy will do fine. They’ll harness the young talent on the Horns. They may win some games and over time, more success may arrive.
Emotions are complicated and sometimes contradictory. I’m thrilled to see these two coaching the Horns but should I be? Is it OK to cheer them on? It is OK to hope the team does better than ever?
There will be guilty moments, I’m sure. A sideline celebration followed by a moment of reflection.
That’s alright, we’ll all have those guilty moments.
I just hope we remember a little bit about Ric Suggitt when that happens. From what I know of the man, he lived in those moments. Those eruptions of pure joy or frustration were unfettered in Sluggo’s world. They came often and without thought of any consequences.
So when the Horns hit the field for the first time at home on Sept. 21, give them a full-throated cheer and pay that tribute to their coaches past, present and future.

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