Jeffries steps down as head coach
Thursday afternoon, the Wilfrid Laurier University Department of Athletics and Recreation announced that men’s football head coach and manager of football operations Gary Jeffries has stepped down.
After speculations rose earlier in the week regarding Jeffries’ future with the team, the department released confirmation Thursday that he would not be returning in September.
“I’ve worked with Gary for 15 years,” said director of athletics and recreation Peter Baxter. “He’s had a big impact, certainly helping me at the time rebuilding the program and he’s got 35 years [at Laurier]. He came here when this was Waterloo Lutheran and he was an athlete. A heck of an athlete. And a coach.”
Jeffries has been at WLU since being a student in the early 1970s, when he played with the Hawks’ football team for two years, earning Rookie of the Year as well as all-star honours as a defensive back. He went on to coach both the women’s and men’s basketball teams before his tenure with the football team, starting as a defensive coordinator for 17 years. His time as head coach began in 2003.
Jeffries led the Hawks to back-to-back Yates Cups in 2004 and 2005 before winning a Vanier Cup in 2005, where the Hawks defeated the Saskatchewan Huskies 24-23.
“We lost six games by a total of nine points [in 2002] and we were 1-7. And we appointed him head coach and three years later we won a Vanier Cup,” said Baxter.
With Jeffries as head coach, the program had an overall record of 69-31.
Baxter glorified the beloved head coach and his dedication to the Laurier program.
“I know that Gary Jeffries has made a difference in the lives of a lot of people,” he said.
Baxter would not specify whether or not Jeffries voluntarily stepped down, however, he did say that this was in the best interest of the program.
“I think Gary knew that the program needed renewal,” he said. “You’ve got to respect the fact that this was a very tough season and Gary needed some time to reflect on things.”
When asked about Jeffries’ replacement, Baxter said it was not the time to address it.
“Today’s Gary’s day,” he said. “I just have too much respect for Gary. It’s been an emotional day for Gary, his family, his players that he’s talking to today and his coaching staff.”
“But when tomorrow comes, like Gary says, the sun will rise, you gotta get back to work and get on to the job of building the program,” Baxter contnued.
The Cord was unable to reach Jeffries for an interview Thursday evening, however, he did release comments in a statement issued by the Laurier athletics department.
“I felt the time was right to make this decision,” said Jeffries in the statement. “Laurier has been my home, my work and my family for over 40 years but the time has come to pass the torch. It will be very difficult to not be on the sidelines come September next year but I know this decision is right for me and for the football program.”
The Cord will continue to follow this story and present more details as they become available.