Coach not returning to UPEI soccer squad
Mike Redmond is hanging up his cleats.
The veteran UPEI women’s soccer coach told The Guardian Thursday he will not be back on the sidelines next fall.
“Although I love to coach, it’s time to move on,” he said.
Redmond, who was elected the province’s NDP leader last month, said it came down to a matter of time.
“The politics side is very, very busy and I am on a very steep learning curve,” said the 43-year-old Stratford resident, who is the Murphy’s Community Centre's facilities director. “This is the next phase of my life.”
He has coached 11 years at UPEI, the first two as an assistant with the men and since 2004 as the head coach of the women's team. Although considered a part-time coach, he estimated putting in 60 to 80 hours a week during the season and 25 to 30 hours a week in during the off-season.
“Coaching is the easy part,” he said.
“You wouldn’t do it for the pay. The pay doesn’t cover your expenses,” he added.
“You do it because you love the game. You do it because you love the kids and you love to see people grow.”
He was heavily involved in fundraising, ensuring the players did well academically and involved in the community. He estimated raising about $60,000 annually for the program’s $90,000 budget.
UPEI athletics director Ron Annear thanked Redmond for his service in building a championship-calibre program.
“He has recruited quality student-athletes,” Annear said. “The program has developed a reputation and culture of strong academic performance and impressive community outreach.”
One of those student-athletes was Sara Stewart.
“It’s a big loss,” she said of Redmond's decision. “He’s made the UPEI women’s program what it is.”
Stewart approached Redmond about being part of the team in 2007. She said she didn’t care how much she played, but wanted to be a Panther.
Stewart became a three-time first team all-conference player, a two-time second team all-Canadian and UPEI’s athlete of the year in 2010.
“He turned me into a defender and pretty much made me the soccer player I am today,” she said.
After graduating last year, Redmond asked her to join this season’s coaching staff.
Redmond, the only Panther to be a two-time Canadian Interuniversity Sport coach of the year, said he was fortunate to learn from same great coaches over the years.
He remembers being given an opportunity by Chris Annett to coach at Colonel Gray High School before joining the UPEI program.
After every season, the university reviews each team. It hopes to have things in place by the end of the calendar year.
The assistant coaches are on one-year terms and are brought on by the head coach.