Former Huronia Stallion player and coach Clint Uttley was named the head coach of the McGill University Redmen last week.
Coach Uttley's ascent to leading Canada's most prestigious university is a truly inspirational story.
The Orillia native had a tough youth. He attended three different high schools. His social, behavioural and academic challenges were seemingly insurmountable.
The turning point came at Park Street Collegiate where Uttley met coach Martino DiSabatino. After first playing for Park Street, Uttley moved to Hamilton to play football for an elite high school team in the area.
In 1993, DiSabatino set up the Huronia Stallions football program and Uttley was a league all-star at both linebacker and guard on the 1993 Huronia Stallions championship team.
Uttley then worked tremendously hard to achieve his dream of playing football in university. He attended Champlain College in Quebec for two years of academic preparation and elite-level football before enrolling at Acadia University.
Midway through his rookie season in 1996, he took over the starting job at middle linebacker. In 1996, Uttley returned to the Stallions and was the defensive co-ordinator of the varsity team until 2002.
Here, DiSabatino continued to mentor Uttley and develop him as a coach.
In 1998, the Axemen win the Jewett Trophy in a thrilling 35-31 victory over Mount Allison in what was Eric Lapointe's final university game.
Lapointe was named the greatest player in Canadian university football history and defeating him and his teammates in his final game was Uttley's most satisfying victory as a player.
After finishing up his eligibility, Uttley was named to the Axemen coaching staff where he coached the receivers. The next season, he was named the defensive co-ordinator and had a full-time position as the No. 1 assistant on staff.
Uttley's defence became one of the best in the country and led him to being offered a coaching position with the University of British Columbia (UBC) where he co-ordinated the special teams and coached linebackers.
Coach Uttley also has the reputation as an outstanding recruiter of student athletes. After three years with UBC, he accepted the position of assistant head coach and defensive co-ordinator with McGill University.
Last week, he was promoted to head coach.
Football, however, was a secondary achievement for Uttley. What he is most proud of is his educational accomplishments. He graduated from Acadia with a bachelor of arts and later completed his bachelor of education degree.
This year, Uttley also completed his masters of education at McGill. He is married to his lovely wife, Katie, and looks forward to the challenge of leading McGill back to the upper echelons of the CIS football ranks.
Next year marks the Huronia Stallions' 20th season. In the coming weeks, assistant coach Jason Romisher, the Stallions' recruiting and media co-ordinator, will outline the football program and what it has meant to the Barrie area.