Through the tunnel where Concordia’s hockey teams come out at the Ed Meagher Arena is a narrow hallway leading to the men’s hockey team dressing room. In this hallway, you could find every thing you need as a Concordia Stinger hockey player; a wide selection of mint Reebok sticks, a skate sharpener and hockey sweaters neatly arranged and ready for game time. This hallway also serves a different purpose. For the past 15 years, it has lead to the office of equipment manager Stewart Wilson.
“This has been my home away from home for the last 15 years,” said Wilson, who has been with the team longer then anyone in the program.
“When Concordia decided they would need someone to really organize and keep check on the equipment I was really excited for the job.”
Wilson’s interest as an equipment manager goes back to his childhood days when he can recall traveling with his father, a professional soccer player in England.
“I used to go around with him and I was really interested in what all the managers were doing. It also got me used to rigid hours because I would be around the parks at all hours of the day.”
In 1957, with his father retired from playing, a young Wilson and the family moved to British Columbia where his father began coaching. Eight years later, the irregular schedule still appealed to Wilson when he became a drummer in a rock band.
“It really worked out for me because I never really could handle the 8 to 5 thing. In performing arts, my hours were all over the place, and I liked it that way.”
After retiring from drumming, Wilson stayed in the performing arts field and worked in television production for about eight years.
“I never stuck to one job, I was always all over the place. I knew a couple of people in the industry and decided to pursue it.”
After working in television, Wilson would go through yet another career change. This time it would stick.
“My wife grew up with [Concordia’s women’s hockey coach] Les Lawton’s wife and (Lawton) told me Concordia would need someone short time for the football team, then someone full-time for hockey. I decided ‘why not?'”
Since that time, Wilson has been a fixture at Concordia and according to some, is one of the most important parts of the team.
“Stu is the one that holds this program together,” said Kevin Figsby, coach of the men’s hockey team for the past eight years.
“He makes coming to work everyday fun. He’s my right hand man.”
During the season, Wilson must make sure every player is ready. Whether it is a practice or game, he must make sure the players have nothing to worry about.
“Every time a player comes to the rink, all they need to do is put on their skates and get ready to play. The rest is my job.”
“It’s always good to come to the rink and not have to worry about a thing, said Fred Faucher, an ex-Stinger.
“Stu was always organized. He always made sure we got what we needed.”
On an average day Wilson comes to the rink at 9:00 a.m. At that time, he makes sure all the repairs are done. For example, he made sure that the broken strap on one of Sheldon Baerg’s goalie pads was quickly fixed.
On average, he sharpens 10 pairs of skates a day, and makes sure everything is ready on the bench for game time or practice – water bottles or coaching boards. He also must make sure all the players have clean shirts and socks to wear.
“Sure it’s a busy job. But I like to make sure I stay one day ahead of everybody else.”
Although that the hockey season’s finished, Wilson still has his work cut out for him. For example, the team still practices, therefore he must make sure everyone has what they need. Also, since Concordia is the test team for Reebok, they must fill in reports regarding the equipments usage; how long it lasts and how it feels. It is Wilson who organizes these reports, and it is also him, along with Figsby, who is in charge of ordering equipment and managing inventory.
“The season might be over, but I will be here well into May. There are still some things to be done, and I will never get sick of it.”
Figsby said he is surprised Wilson is still around because he feels he could have gone professional.
“Stu is one of the best in this business,” said Figsby.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if some pro teams started knocking on his door.”
Wilson’s resume already includes a stint with Team Canada’s under 22- women’s team where he has traveled to Russia and Germany.
In addition, he was the equipment manager of the men’s university all-star team when they played the Team Canada juniors.
“Being a part of those teams was a great experience,” said Wilson.
“It’s a lot more intense than here though. People are always on their toes and we were always on a timeline. not much time to sleep.”
With that experience, Wilson said he would be ready for the pros if they gave him the opportunity.
“At my age it’s usually the other way around. You usually go from pro to where I am. But there’s no doubt that if I was given the chance, I would try it out. Concordia is where my heart is because I’ve been here for so long but being part of a pro organization, for the brief time I had a chance to, is an unbelievable experience.”