KW Record: Former Laurier fixture brings his magic to Gryphons

Coach Jeffries with a watchful on training camp. Photo: Jeff Lee

Gary Jeffries with a watchful on Gryphon training camp 60 years after his first Guelph camp.
Photo: Jeff Lee

I had a chance to talk to Jeff Lee, photographer for the KW Record, at Alumni Stadium yesterday. He was there just for this story on Gary Jeffries. That made me think about how much respect people have for the long-time Golden Hawk coach. I mean, four years after Jeffries “resigned”, The Record believes a significant number of their readers remember him and are interested in what he is up to.

You can read the full story here. All I’ve excerpted below are the portions that relate most directly to Guelph. Most interesting thing I learned … Jeffries was the UofG’s Male Athlete of the Year for 1966-67.

… “It was difficult for me (last) August when everyone was going back to school,” Jeffries said this week at Gryphs’ training camp.

It didn’t take much convincing for Jeffries to join the Gryphs, said another one of his former players and assistant coaches at Laurier, Kevin MacNeill, now Guelph’s interim head coach.

Along with Bestard and MacNeill, the Gryphs feature a heaping helping of former Laurier Hawks like Todd Galloway, now Guelph’s offensive co-ordinator; receivers coach Steve Frake; and athletic therapist Teresa Budwal, who also worked for the football Hawks during Jeffries’ reign.

At April’s spring camp, Jeffries spoke to the Gryphon players. And, well, one thing led to another and before Jeffries knew what hit him, he had signed on for a hitch at his alma mater. (Jeffries was named the U of G’s athlete of the year for 1966-67.)

“Kevin took me around campus (in April),” Jeffries said this week of that fateful spring tour, while seated in the bleachers at Alumni Stadium. “That hill over there is the same hill we ran during practice 50 years ago. And the players still run it.”

Jeffries was quick to point out U of G landmarks to a visiting reporter this week — including his former dorm room’s window and the campus Bullring, once used to show cattle, now a coffee house.

After all these years, Jeffries is still a schoolboy at heart.

“(Jeffries) loves special teams and defence. But more importantly, he loves the kids,” said MacNeill. “He obviously inspired guys like me to follow in his footsteps by telling us he has never worked a day in his life.”

And after ruminating on matters of loyalty, Jeffries is happy with his decision.

“It doesn’t matter the colours or the logos you wear,” Jeffries insisted. “It’s the people.

“They are all the same. The Laurier kids, the Mac kids, the Guelph kids. They are all here for the same reason. They love football.”

In typical Jeffriesian fashion, the coach downplayed his role with the Gryphs.

“I help out where there’s a need. I’m a sounding board for Kevin, an observer. If I can make a suggestion, I do. That’s all.”

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