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My career was as a teacher/athletic director at Charlottetown Rural High School. It was at CRHS that I first got to know Chris Huggan. He was a multisport athlete at the school. Chris ran cross-country, played volleyball, played basketball and rugby and took part in track and field. He won major awards and was well respected by his team mates and by those he competed against. All these competitors respected Chris for his demeanour as a sportsman and his belief in fairplay.
After successfully earning his bachelor's degree and then his master's, Chris returned to P.E.I. He accepted a job as teacher and athletic director at Colonel Gray High. He plunged into the job with the enthusiasm, which is one of his trademarks. He put all of his energy into improving the school’s program. There was an air of positivism when you entered the gym at Gray after Chris had worked his magic.
I am sure it was his commitment to education, his positive approach and the energy with which he forged ahead that drew the eyes and ears of the hiring committee at UPEI a half dozen years ago.
There were significant improvements in athletics at UPEI during his tenure. There has been a general uplifting of the level of play across the board. The facilities have undergone the greatest improvement in any similar period of time with perhaps the exception of the Canada Games legacy. The gym is a classy venue. The turf field is first-class and national championships have been played there. The grass field has hosted football and rugby championships. The rink at UPEI has won the right to host hockey and ringette championships.
The relationships between athletes, coaches and administrators is positive in the extreme.
The community has felt the fresh feeling in the air and there are participants in programs from young children to seniors as well as a flourishing student-oriented involvement in clubs, intramurals and inter-university play.
Why, when the involvement at UPEI, has reached such a peak, would the senior administration throw Chris Huggan out with the trash? Worse still they have done it for no stated reasons!
UPEI, you have had a gem in your midst for six-plus years of growth and development. Who throws a diamond away for no apparent reason?
Why not take a deep breathe, think positively and undo your misstep? Bring Chris Huggan back as your athletic leader. Bring back the fresh air! Let him pick up where he has been forced to walk away. He will not let you down. He will work to build on the program with positivity and enthusiasm.
Mike Lloyd is a former teacher and athletic director at Charlottetown Rural High School who lives in Stratford.