By Alexander Cole
The Concordia Stingers men’s rugby program announced on Aug. 19 that former assistant coach Craig Beemer will take over as head coach of the team.
Beemer was head coach of the McGill Redmen for eight seasons starting in 2007. Photo by Alexander Cole.
In July, long-time Stingers coach Clive Gibson announced his retirement from the club after over twenty years with the organization. Beemer has been an assistant coach with the Stingers since 2014 and said he was excited for the opportunity to take over.
“One of the reasons why I wanted the job was that after working here for two years, I really like the atmosphere,” Beemer said. “Concordia is really quite the community and I got along well with the athletes.”
Before joining the Stingers in 2014, Beemer was head coach of the McGill Redmen for eight seasons starting in 2007. In all eight of those seasons, the Redmen won the RSEQ championship.
When Beemer joined the Stingers in 2014, he had to take over as head coach when Gibson became ill. In the same season, Beemer helped lead the team to a championship. Beemer said his previous coaching experiences will help in his new position.
“There are definitely still going to be some things to learn, but I’m definitely fortunate that I’ve already had the head coaching experience,” Beemer said. “But it’s still going to be exciting and new.”
For Beemer, taking over for Gibson who was with the team since 1995 carries some expectation, but he doesn’t feel like there is that much pressure to succeed.
“I’m not going to say there’s pressure but there is a lot to live up to,” said Beemer. “[Gibson] saw the team go from club to varsity status. No one put more time into the program than he did so from that standpoint there are high standards to live up to.”
Aside from working with the Stingers and the Redmen, Beemer has coached many other levels as well. In 2011, Beemer coached the Quebec senior men’s team and has coached high school rugby. Beemer also worked with the provincial U18 women’s team last year.
Beemer said that players should expect some up-tempo practices this season as he is someone who enjoys high-paced rugby. Beemer said the best way to win is to play at a pace that the other team has trouble keeping up with.
“I love competition. Anybody who knows me would say that I am a very competitive and fiery guy,” Beemer said. “I think that’s the easiest way to have fun.”
Last season, the team was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs after having been riddled with injuries all season. For Beemer, the first round exit meant an unsuccessful season and he hopes to change that this year.
Beemer said that this is a building year for the team and that there will be some structural changes. The Peterborough, Ont. native also wants his team to have fun and enjoy the season as well as perform and do well.
“The biggest challenge is having overall success and that doesn’t always mean winning,” Beemer said. “I want people to talk about and come to the program. I want it to continue to grow like it has for the last 20 years.”