Volume 93, Issue 56
Wednesday, December 8, 1999
Football coach Larry Haylor talks sports and life
By Chad Thompson
Football coaches can be just as menacing as their players, but as Western football coach Larry Haylor proves, appearances can be deceiving. When the subject is his favourite sport, he has nothing but straight answers about life and football.
Haylor was born in Prince Albert, Saskatchewan. He started playing football when he was 10 years old and played his final game in 1970, as a member of the University of Saskatchewan's football team.
His greatest memory as a player involved a game against the University of Manitoba. "In my last year and last game, we beat the University of Manitoba, who had won the national championship the year before and were about to win it for the second time," he said.
The trail which leads an individual to Western often varies from person to person and Haylor's trip to this university took him through both the West and East Coasts, before ending in southwestern Ontario.
"I went from the University of Saskatchewan, where I was teaching and coaching after I finished my graduate school to Dalhousie [University]. I was only at Dalhousie for one year. I came here as the faculty replacement for Frank Constentino. They were looking for someone to co-ordinate the offence and coach on the offensive side and be a faculty member."
When asked if he ever envisioned the success he has had, Haylor said he never saw himself in his current position. "I think dreams and reality are not the same thing. We all have aspirations which are beyond our reach. If someone had told me I would be where I am doing what I am doing, I would have probably thought that was quite remarkable."
Haylor added the best part of his job was the competition between schools. As for the worst part, he pointed to the emotional side of his sport. "I think the hard part is probably giving bad news to good people around selections and decisions of people for positions."
When asked what helps to make a good football player, Haylor said there are many variables all have a strong effect. "There is no substitute for ability some people are gifted, that's a great thing to have. I think a person also has to have a tremendous commitment to work to realize the highest level of his gifts. Above all else, they have to have an amazing desire to play," he continued. "It is not an easy process and there are a lot of obstacles. Unless they have a great desire to play, they will give up."
In 1996, Haylor had the unique opportunity to coach his son Jordan as the Mustang quarterback. Haylor said it was difficult being both a parent and a coach. "Jordan had worked unbelievably hard to move from an adequately good player to a highly competitive player. As a parent, you desperately want him to play and have success. As a coach I had to be careful that if he did play it would be based upon his merits," he said. "I found it easier to watch [daughter and member of the Western women's basketball team] Jen play because I was just dad."
Scholarships have become a recent topic of conversation in the Ontario University Athletics and Haylor said he felt the OUA has only one way to go. "The question is, is it a do-able thing? I have been quoted in the past as saying I think it's time to give thought to it. If nothing else, it can reaffirm where we are in our commitment to go that way. I'd like to see it, there are not a lot of people who are aware of the enormous contribution of time that athletes put into what they do. My feeling is maybe it is time we enter serious discussions about it."
As far as his success at Western, Haylor contributed it to one thing. "Good players. Absolutely. The talented players are the cornerstone of any team and we have had a great coaching staff."
Haylor said the best way to define Western football is to point to this year's Homecoming. "Where else in Canada is there a more exciting pure environment to play? I have seen the game from coast to coast, and Western is blessed with a football environment that everyone envies. It's not mine, it's everyone's. It's a product of all the great people here."
As far as what he would like people to say when he is done at Western, Haylor had a simple answer. "I'd like them to be able to say he was a great coach."
With an impressive record behind him, Haylor is well on his way to such recognition.
Copyright © The Gazette 1999