‘A little emotional’

Ryan Cooke
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Former NSAC athletic director inducted to national Hall of Fame

BANFF, ALTA – When Ken Marchant walks across the stage tonight, more than 50 years of memories will be fresh in his mind.

Ken Marchant in his natural habitat, the Langille Athletic Centre gymnasium. Marchant, former athletic director at NSAC, will be inducted into the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame tonight, after more than 40 years of involvement with the national organization.

He’s walked across stages before – not unlike when he graduated from the University of New Brunswick in 1964 with a physical education degree. He’s also won awards before, as the banners hanging from the rafters at the Langille Athletic Centre can vouch for.

But tonight, Marchant will be honoured for all of it, as he’s inducted into the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame.

The former athletic director for the Nova Scotia Agricultural College – now Dal AC – will have a lot on his mind during the ceremony.

“Situations like that, being recognized for things, I get a little emotional,” Marchant said as he looked out over the floor at the athletic centre on Sunday morning.

Everything in the building represents something sentimental. The floor, the bleachers, and the ‘NSAC Home of the Rams’ sign that still remains – all reminiscent of the years of hard work he put into the school.

“I remember when this building opened, in November of 1977,” he said, gazing around while diving back into his memories.

After being away for meetings that week, Marchant returned to his office at Cumming Hall. To his surprise, nothing was there. He realized at once the new building must be up and running.

“We weren’t allowed to see it a lot during construction,” he said. “To see the floor, the smell of the fresh paint. It was all quite exciting.”

Marchant came to NSAC in the ‘60s when the school had 98 students. His first role, while titled athletic director, was more like a gym teacher. He immediately began thinking growth, and started building connections with other smaller schools in the province. What they built was an early version of the Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association, with soccer, basketball and hockey as its pilot sports.

If you ask my wife, she’d say I was good at it because I was there 24/7 Ken Marchant

As the school began growing, so did Marchant’s role. Soon he was overseeing male and female teams in a growing number of sports, as well as serving as an Atlantic representative at the national level.

During the next 30 years, the school would hit 1,000 students and he’d serve as host chair at four national championships. NSAC hosted 14 nationals – more than any other school. He retired in 1994, but remained involved ever since.

It’s not just the banners and the bleachers that make Marchant proud. It’s the people.

“It took a lot of good people to do what we did,” he said. “You need good people around you, both co-workers and especially family.”

Lucky for Marchant, his family was patient and understanding while organizing tournaments, finances and recruiting ate hours out of his schedule.

“If you ask my wife, she’d say I was good at it because I was there 24/7,” he laughed.

The inductees on Wednesday will be 10 of the CCAA’s original builders. The ceremony, taking place in Banff, Alta., will be the first Hall of Fame induction in the CCAA’s 40-year history.

Despite the accolades, Marchant said he never did it for the recognition.

“You don’t look for rewards. Your reward is coming away from it thinking you did a pretty good job. I’d do it all over again, no question.”

 

 

Organizations: Nova Scotia Agricultural College, University of New Brunswick, Langille Athletic Centre Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association Hall of Fame Atlantic Collegiate Athletic Association

Geographic location: Banff

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