By Rodrigo Verney, November 7 2023—
Wayne Harris announced his retirement as the head coach of the Dinos Football team last Thursday, the 2nd. Just a week after their final regular season game. The announcement was effective immediately. Among messages congratulating him on his decision and compassionate wishes for a happy new life, the multiple-awarded coach leaves behind a rich history in the University of Calgary football memory and a Vanier Cup banner on the walls.
The decorated veteran coach is only the sixth to fulfill the position in the University’s history, starting his journey as a Head Coach in February 2015. He was always depicted as an approachable leader and helped shape winners like Vince Triumbardi, Deane Leonard, and the Philpot brothers to name a few.
Harris worked as the Head Coach of the Dinos for over nine seasons. Amidst mentoring young athletes, Harris finished his run with a 41–21 record in the league and a title run in 2019. An accomplishment that few coaches have the privilege of achieving.
The legendary coach’s legacy can be traced back to his years as a young two-sport athlete, representing the scarlet and gold in both football and wrestling. His commitment to the Dinos community can be seen throughout his transition time from athlete to head coach. Harris served as an assistant coach for 25 years before he became defensive coordinator from 2011 to 14.
His long and hard-working career has been rightfully recognized multiple times during his era. His coaching prowess was awarded three times as Canada West Coach of the Year. Not to mention his nomination as national coach of the year in his first year as head coach of the Dinos. The same year they finished with a perfect conference record.
Harris was never one to rest before the job was done. This incredible first year was followed by a Vanier Cup appearance in the very next season. The Dinos were able to add many Hardy Cup championships (2016, 2017, 2019) to their belt with his leadership. However, most Dinos fans would say that his greatest accomplishment was leading the Dinos to their fifth national championship. A feat that put him in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame next to Peter Connellan as the only Dinos coach to bring Vanier Cup titles.
“From a student-athlete, position coach, coordinator to head coach, he has conducted himself with the utmost integrity and respect, and his leadership led to our fifth Vanier Cup in 2019. We thank him for his years of service to the program and wish him and his family all the best,” said Dinos director of athletics Ben Matchett in an interview with the Dinos athletics.
The Dinos Athletic Association is working to find a suitable replacement for Harris. They have an extensive time to make the best possible choice as the Dinos are in the offseason now. These are some big shoes to fill and the association knows about it as they are interviewing prospects from around the nation. In the meantime, Matt Berry, assistant head coach and defensive coordinator, was named interim head coach.
Under his leadership, the Dinos won Hardy Cup championships in 2016, 2017 and 2019 and made a Vanier Cup appearance in 2016. In 2019, Harris led the Dinos to their fifth national championship, joining Canadian Football Hall of Fame inductee Peter Connellan as the only Dinos coach to lead the program to Vanier Cup titles.