The CJFL lost a legend on Thursday with the passing of Gordon Currie.
His name has been attached to the “CJFL Coach of the Year” award for good reason.
From 1965 to 1976, Currie coached the Regina Rams football club of the Prairie Football Conference. He led the Rams to eight Manitoba-Saskatchewan Junior League championships, seven Western Canada Junior championships and six national junior titles. Then in 1975, he was named Canadian Amateur Coach of the Year.
His CJFL accomplishments are incredible to say the least. He coached 12 seasons, won 76 games, had seven first place finishes, nine Conference championships and six junior titles.
When comparing Currie’s numbers to some of the other CJFL greats, he is right in the thick of the discussion for best ever junior coach. His 76 wins are sixth all-time, his nine Conference championships are second all-time and his six junior titles are third all-time.
Following his coaching career he went back to teaching and later served as a high school principal, before entering the political scene in Saskatchewan.
He was named to the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame in 1978, to the Order of Canada in 1979 and to the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2005. In 1977, he established the Gordon Currie Foundation which awards the Gordon Currie Youth Development Fund.
The CJFL sends its condolences to his family, friends and football colleagues who knew him best. He will be missed.
Loyalty in sports now-a-days is trickier to find then it was a decade ago, especially without success in the win column. At the pro level players are asked to be traded, or sit out and wait until a team gets fed up with them. At the junior level, when success isn’t achieved some players leave, retire or move elsewhere.
Over the course of the last five seasons the Valley Huskers have won just four times, with one of those victories the result of a forfeit.
With players leaving Chilliwack due to lack of success, one athlete was a constant on both sides of the ball playing all five seasons of his junior eligibility. However following the 2016 season lineman Duncan Finch graduated and has moved on and will be missed by the entire organization.
Finch reflects on the 2016 season, “For me the highlight of the past year was seeing the improvement and development of my teammates and how they came together as a family through all the ups and downs of the season.”
Despite the lack of “W’s” in the win column, the past five seasons have flown by for Finch who describes the highlight of his junior career, “Winning the final game of my first season, the two years prior the team had gone 0-10 and it looked like it was going to happen again, but throughout the season we steadily improved and managed to pull out a win in a hard fought messy game.”
As he steps away a graduate of the CJFL, what does the future hold for the lineman? “The future is always hard to predict, but I found out in November that my girlfriend and I are going to be having a child together this coming June. So as far as football goes, barring a miracle my playing career is over, but I have applied to become a coach with the Huskers next year to do my best to continue helping the team improve. If I’m not accepted onto the Huskers staff I intend to get involved with the Chilliwack Giants or GW Graham Grizzlies as a coach to help pass on my passion for football.”
When Finch began his career with the Huskers he was just 18 years old with plenty to learn on and off the field. Now at 22, he shares the most important lesson he learned in the CJFL, “The value of hard work and selflessness. You learn many life skills playing football, but the ones I feel have and will continue to carry me the farthest in life is working hard no matter how bleak the outcome may seem because improvement is possible in any situation, and the importance of focusing on the success of your team and its needs over your own. You never really stop being on a team, it just takes different forms: a class, a store, a company. Taking the things you learn on the field and applying them with the same purpose to the rest of your life is a pathway to success.”
“The sense of family,” is what Finch will miss most as he says goodbye to junior football. “I’ll also miss my teammates and all of the other wonderful people in the Huskers’ organization.”
Speaking of teammates, he explains the best one he had over his five seasons, “(Kasongo) Gary Lumeka hands down, I feel as though I’m a better person having just known him. I have never met someone with such a sense of loyalty and dedication to his teammates. Gary always gave 110% and is a heart and soul inspiration to those around him. He was never down, no matter the score, or the trouble the team was going through, he was always ready to do whatever the team needed of him (even playing nose tackle at one point despite his size).”
Valley Huskers lineman Duncan Finch joins the CJFL Class of 2016.
Bob Reist is no stranger to the CJFL having been a member of the Abbotsford Airforce in 2001 and an All-Canadian and BC Conference Outstanding Defensive Back in 2002. His football career led him to the University of Manitoba where he captained the Bisons for three of his four years, was a Vanier Cup champion (2007), and named the University of Manitoba Male Athlete of the Year (2008).
In 2011 he began coaching with the Bisons, ultimately leading him to Chilliwack.
He speaks with Ryan Watters.