Rick Osborne retires after 15 years of coaching

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The Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey head coach, Rick Osborne, has announced his retirement after an extraordinary 15-year career.

Osborne will continue the 2017-18 season behind the Hawks’ bench and will retire at the end of the year.

For Osborne, retirement is something that he had been contemplating since the conclusion of last year.

“What I was looking for is [that] the kids that were coming in at the beginning of last year and this year, were kids that I wouldn’t be able to see out the door,” he said.

“I had such fond memories of bringing players in and then seeing them get ready to take on the world. Once December came, I just started thinking that transitioning to a new coach might be the right thing to do.”

Coach Osborne admitted that the retirement decision was not easy for him.

“It was a difficult decision. I think it was mainly prompted due to my five grandchildren, four who play hockey themselves now,” he said.

“The bottom line was that I didn’t want to miss those years of them growing up playing and I wanted to spend more time watching them.”

Achievements have been at the center of attention for Rick Osborne over the course of his career.

After joining Laurier as the women’s hockey head coach during the 2003-04 season, Osborne led the Hawks to seven straight OUA championships.

In the 2004-05 season, Osborne engineered the only national title winning campaign in Laurier’s history, as the Hawks beat Alberta in the CIS Championship final.

Coach Osborne’s impact on Laurier athletics, however, has been much bigger than his list of achievements.

“He played a big part in making Laurier not just an attractive women’s hockey program, but an attractive women’s athletic program [overall],” Peter Baxter, director of athletics and recreation, said.

“He fit the philosophy of building a student athlete academically, athletically and leadership wise. That’s been the hallmark of Laurier athletics.”

Osborne got the very best out of his players year after year, as evidenced by the 42 OUA All Star awards and the 37 CIS Academic All-Canadian awards that have been received by his players during his time as Laurier head coach.

“Laurier wasn’t really known as a women sports school when I first came here. Back in 1998 when I came, we decided to invest in women’s coaching,” Baxter said.

“There’s a number of things I might do. It just depends on how soon I think I’m ready for another challenge.”

“Rick came from a national team program because he was a scout in Eastern Ontario for Team Canada. His record of achievements speaks for itself.”

Women’s athletics at Laurier has taken off ever since the arrival of Osborne, as the success of the women’s hockey team has been contagious.

“The success of his team helped with our women’s lacrosse team, with our [women’s] basketball becoming very competitive at a national level, our [women’s] soccer team and so forth,” Baxter said.

Even as his illustrious career comes to an end, coach Osborne mentioned that it’s important for his team to finish the 2017-18 season on a strong note.

“I’m really counting on our players to finish strong this year. It will be up to the new coach to decide how he wants to approach the path forward. I think I need to let go when the end of April comes. I’m going to move on and make sure that the environment is set up for the new coach to be successful.”

It’s been a tough year for the Wilfrid Laurier women’s hockey team, as they currently hold a 1-1-9-2 record in the OUA. But it’s important to remember that this is still a very young team that is currently going through a rebuilding phase.

Coach Osborne’s exit is simply the next step in this rebuilding process and although the Hawks will miss everything that Osborne brought to the table, sometimes a change at the head coach position is exactly what a team full of youngsters needs.

Osborne’s time with the Golden Hawks is coming to a conclusion, however, he pointed out that he’s not done with hockey quite yet.

“There may be some opportunities back closer to where I live. I helped mentor a couple of coaches the last couple of years. I would just have to balance it around and make equal time for all of my grandchildren rather than just latch on to one particular job. I might do some consulting,” he said.

“There’s a number of things I might do. It just depends on how soon I think I’m ready for another challenge.”

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