FREDERICTON – It’s safe to say Gardiner MacDougall’s heart is in Fredericton.
The Bedeque native has signed a five-year contract to remain as head coach of the UNB Varsity Reds of the Atlantic University Sport (AUS) Men’s Hockey Conference.
“It’s been a wonderful experience (at UNB),” said MacDougall, who will be entering his 15th season behind the Varsity Reds’ bench in the fall. “We’ve been so fortunate in that sometimes you find a place that really appeals to you and your family.
“The city is terrific, we’ve been fortunate to have success at the university, the family has really enjoyed it here and it’s also been a chance to grow our program and grow as a family.
“Any time you get those situations, people say if you look at the other side of the mountain the grass isn’t always greener. I’ve really enjoyed it here, but it’s a challenge every year as well.
“I think we are in the toughest conference in the CIS, and you are challenged each and every year to find new ways to be successful.”
Never pursued opportunities
Although MacDougall’s name has surfaced in recent years as a possible candidate for coaching positions at different levels, he says he has never pursued any opportunities.
“You get calls every summer from different organizations at different levels and things like that,” said MacDougall. “If you want to pursue that level, you have to go find them. You are always looking for challenges in life, and down the road who knows.
“You always have to look at your family. My wife (Lee) has a really great job (as a physical education teacher), and enjoys her job in the community.
“We have been able to raise a family here, which is really outstanding. My son (Taylor) just finished his third year here (UNB), and our daughter (Maddy) is in her second year.
“It’s outstanding that they get the opportunity to be raised in one city, get to attend UNB and are going to get a good education out of it as well.”
Under MacDougall, who became UNB’s all-time coaching leader in 2006 and is the current AUS leader in all-time wins, the Varsity Reds have an overall record of 420-176-21, including a 336-140-18 mark in AUS conference play and the CIS national championships.
“There are always new challenges (every season),” said MacDougall. “The fact the CIS championship is going to be in Halifax for the next two years (is one).
“That’s going to be an unbelievable experience, and they are going to do an unbelievable job of hosting.”
As for a look ahead to the 2014-15 season, MacDougall added: “We are excited about the opportunity for our team. We have a good base back and our recruiting process has gone real well. We hope to have another competitive group.”