Aug 15,2014(ISN) – VICTORIA – You might have seen him running laps around Centennial Stadium, or lifting the Boot at Wallace Field, maybe in classrooms at McKinnon or more recently, if you were on summer travels, walking the coast of Italy along the Cinque Terre.
No matter where he is, Doug Tate’s energetic personality never seems to fade. Noted as one of Canada’s rugby seven’s most influential developers, Tate is fully committed to everything he does. Entering his 20th season as the University of Victoria Vikes men’s rugby head coach, Tate simultaneously boasts an impressive teaching career with the Exercise Science, Physical and Health Education (E.P.H.E) department. Here’s how he juggles it all:
Q: What have been some of your biggest rugby accomplishments?
DT: More recently I have emphasized the importance of developing a provincial youth seven’s program. Five years ago a group of us banned together to make this possible with the help from private sponsors. The goal of the program was to develop kids at an early age and have them exposed to good coaching. The program identifies kids ages 13-18 and prepares them for elite level opportunities. As the seven’s game becomes more prominent this program has taken off. It’s attracted the BC Rugby Union and universities. It’s great for the sport and I enjoy working with kids at this level because there is less travel involved, allowing me to stay local.
Q: What do you enjoy most about being a teacher and what are some of the current classes you are teaching?
DT: Teaching is great because you stay current, theories are always evolving and everyday you learn new things. If you think you know everything than you need to rethink everything. Education has exploded more recently, especially in the field of coaching and mental preparation, health and concussion safety. There is new research in areas that could benefit the teams here at UVic. Understanding injury prevention and mental healthy is a huge part of being a coach; you have a responsibility towards those guys and their safety.
Currently I am teaching two undergraduate level classes: 361 Coaching Studies and 443 Organization and Administration of Physical Education, and two graduate classes: 574 Administration of Physical Education and Sport and 576 Teaching and Coaching Effectiveness in Physical Education and Sport, all with the E.P.H.E department. The classes are great because it gives everyone a chance to hash out concerns, come up with solutions and rethink coaching methods.
Q: What’s one of your favourite classes right now?
DT: Right now one of my classes consists of a panel of coaches discussing issues. This class in particular is great because each coach provides a different perspective on major issues such as risk management, funding issues with different associations, discipline issues, healthy safety etc. Most of my coaches come from a team sport background, but it is great when you get a perspective from an individual coach like track or para-snowboarding. There should be a strong awareness on developing athletes at the middle school level, but we need to provide good quality coaching in order to be successful. The classroom is a place where these coaches can grow as educators. There is a wealth of knowledge out there and coaches need to share it.
Q: What are some challenges you face coaching?
DT: Finding a balance to begin with is challenging! But the administration side of coaching is tough. The challenge of running a large program is seeking to raise sufficient funds for scholarship. We go from 100 guys at the beginning of the season, to 70 guys at any given time that I want to support. It would be nice to have more time to just coach, but that’s part of the job. There seems to be more and more administration duties as injury prevention, concussion and mental health importance increases. Finding a balance between academics and the national team pursuits is a whole other challenge. First and for most, athletes are here to get a degree; if I push my athlete too hard they might fail academically. Others make the decision to move over to the national program. I have no problem releasing my players and encouraging them to play, but then the challenge is working them into our Vikes program when they aren’t really here. Coaches are all over the place; but at the end of the day it has to get done.
Q: What is an interesting fact about the Vikes men’s rugby team no one knows about?
DT: This summer I had over 10 athletes fighting forest fires. It has become competitive between the guys to make it into fire fighting crews. One of the dad’s up in Williams Lake recruits rugby guys to play for him and they do really well. They work hard and stay fit throughout the summer; it’s great team morale.