“When you do get that kid in, you’re with him almost everyday for four or five years. You watch them grow, you watch them develop through all kinds of life’s different up and downs. Most people don’t get to see that, and it’s phenomenal to see that. To see a first-year mature and graduating, it’s a phenomenal experience.”
That was Kevin Figsby’s reply when asked what his favourite part of coaching was. It’s being a mentor for these kids every single day, an “extended parent,” as he said. That’s what draws him to the job of coaching, ever since he first came out of university.
Figsby changed the face of Concordia University’s hockey program since first taking over in 2000. He’s instilled an exemplary set of values in the players that are based on two extremely important values.
“Two things that have been instilled in our program is pride and tradition,” said Figsby. “And it’s something we really believe in. You respect the traditions of the people that have been here before you and you take pride in doing it.”
The guiding values and strong core of the team can be attributed to Figsby’s staggering reputation as a coach. Growing up in Pointe-Saint-Charles, Figsby was introduced to community involvement and volunteering from a very young age. It has shaped him not only in his coaching career, but also in his life as well. It’s through these experiences that he’s managed to implant community values in every Stingers player passing through the program for 13 years.
“I think it’s an important mission of the university to make sure the players are involved in an academic, social and community perspective as well,” Figsby said. “It’s one of my big beliefs that you have to be involved with community.”
Throughout the years, Figsby has been involved with countless organizations, raising funds as president of James-Lynn High School where he used to be a student and starting his own organization in his hometown called the Pointe-Saint-Charles Hall of Recognition. Over the years, the organization has raised more than $350,000 for scholarships.
“The scholarships provide almost $25,000 a year for kids to pursue post-secondary education,” explained Figsby. “These are kids from Pointe-Saint-Charles that no one really gave a chance to.”
Although his community involvement is enough to jam pack a schedule, Figsby has made it far as a coach as well, earning himself the title of master through Hockey Canada and has received the highest coaching certification in the world. He’s only one of 31 coaches to have received this honour. He’s coached team Canada at the World U-17 Championships and won a bronze medal in 1995, with current NHL goaltender Roberto Luongo on his roster. He won another bronze medal in 2011 coaching Canada at the World University Championship in Turkey and was invited as a guest coach to the Montreal Canadiens’ training camp in 2005.
If there’s one thing Figsby’s sure about, it’s that staying in coaching was the best decision of his life. Before he became a full-time coach at Concordia University, Figsby had a major position in the banking world. When he was promoted to a director of sales and marketing in North America, he was told he would have to drop his coaching job as head coach of the AAA Lac St-Louis Lions. And he did. This, he says, was his only regret.
“I chose the bank over hockey and over coaching,” he said. “I was probably the most miserable individual you could meet for that period of time, because the passion that I had, the thing that drove me from a creativity perspective had been coaching.”
It isn’t much of a surprise that when he was offered the head coaching position at Concordia in 2000, he accepted it without a backwards glance. It goes to show that no matter the situation, your passion will prevail. He’s been here ever since, has seen the program grow and improve and has been an enormous part of the organization as soon as he stepped onto the scene.
“I still have that passion for coaching right now. I love coming here everyday,” said Figsby. “The university is moving forward and those are things that inspire you everyday.”