Volume 93, Issue 84
Thursday, March 9, 2000
Song and dance with Singer
By Wes Brown
Fresh off his Ontario University Athletics coach of the year honours and on the threshold of the provincial championships, it was only too fitting to centre out Western's head hockey coach, Clarke Singer for this week's 20 questions.
A native of Stratford, Ontario, 31 year-old Singer started his career in his home town, playing junior B hockey as a member of the Stratford Cullitars. "I played with some pretty good players on that team and it was a really great experience," he reminisced.
Following his Stratford days, the centre decided to come to Western in 1987 and enrol in what was then known as a degree in physical education. "I guess it was halfway through my third year here that they switched the degree to kinesiology."
Singer continued playing at the junior level as a member of the then London Diamonds, alongside another famous Western alumnus known more for his efforts on the grid iron. "[Football player] Tim Tindale was on that London team. He and I were the best of friends, we actually sat beside one another. He was an excellent hockey player."
After becoming ineligible to play at the junior level during his third year of studies, Singer changed his role to assistant coach with the same team.
"At the time, Craig McCarthy was an older friend of mine and was the coach of the [London] Diamonds. He said to me 'this is something you might want to do,'" Singer recalled. "I wanted to continue my involvement with the game I had played all my life."
In 1991, with a kinesiology degree in hand, Singer decided to continue coaching and hooked up with Western's master's program, and Barry Martinelli, the Mustang's hockey coach at the time.
"Western has a really solid master's program in coaching that had a lot of good coaches go through it before me. So I was the graduate assistant coach with Western," he explained.
Singer said he learned a tremendous amount while involved with the Western program and was lucky enough to coach the likes of Steve Rucchin, now a forward for the Anaheim Mighty Ducks. "That was a great time. It was here that I worked with Redge Higgs. Redge had [National Hockey League] experience and is someone I learned a lot from."
Singer finished his graduate work in 1993 and attended teacher's college until 1994. It was during this time he obtained experience as head coach for the Alymer Aces. "We weren't the best team, but we did make some progress and had some good recruiting during my time there."
After this short stint, Singer said he received the opportunity to go to Norway and coach in the elite series, a professional European league. "One of the key things [Canadians] can bring over to Europe is our competitiveness," he said.
After his time in Europe, Singer found himself back at Western in 1997, teaching in the school of kinesiology and assuming an associate coaching position for the Mustang hockey team.
"Barry was extremely busy during the 1998-99 season and I was taking more of a responsibility with the team," he said. It wasn't until last March that I officially took the head role."
Singer added he enjoys university level competition, but it would be tough to predict where the future would lead him. "At the present, university hockey is perfect with the older guys, you're able to form a team and make it into a national champ," he said. "As for the future, it's tough to say, I have a number of years ahead of me I've made a commitment to the players I've brought in and that's important."
Right now, his family and a national championship are the most important things in the young coach's life and he said he would rank his team's current season as the highlight of his career.
"Redge Higgs once told me three things never be out-coached, never be out-worked and treat everyone the way you wish to be treated. Those are the three things I have always tried to bring to the game."
Copyright © The Gazette 2000