The Department of Athletics at the University of Windsor has announced that legendary Lancer track & field and cross country head coach Dennis Fairall has requested a long-term medical leave, effective immediately. This leave will allow Coach Fairall to continue his voluntary coaching of selected elite athletes.
Coach Dennis Fairall, a native of Tillsonburg, Ontario is one of the most decorated coaches in Canadian University sport history, having led his Lancer teams to 25 CIS national championships and 46 OUA provincial titles throughout his career. He has also been honoured 65 times as either the CIS or OUA coach of the year in track and field and/or cross country.
Incredibly, his Lancer teams have won 22 of the past 25 provincial championships in men’s track and field, and 17 of the past 25 provincial championships in women’s track and field.
“Dennis Fairall has had an extraordinary impact on the lives of student athletes and on the University of Windsor”, said Alan Wildeman, President and Vice-Chancellor. “He is known across the country for his dedication to excellence in track and field, and has been a coach, mentor and friend to all he has worked with. He is a legend.”
Coach Dennis Fairall began his coaching career in his hometown of Tillsonburg where he founded the Tillsonburg Legion Track Club in 1974. He remained with the club as Head Coach until 1985, when he joined the University of Windsor.
In his 29 seasons at the helm of the Lancer program, Fairall’s teams captured an amazing 71 championship titles, including 20 CIS track and field and 5 CIS cross country national championships and 39 OUA track and field and 7 cross country provincial championships.
“It is difficult to think of the Windsor Lancers without thinking of Dennis Fairall,” said Director of Athletics Mike Havey. “Dennis is an iconic figure here at the University of Windsor and in the history of Lancer athletics. He has been a model of class, humility and professionalism his entire career and he has been someone who has always put the team first. He has mentored generations of student-athletes, coaches and colleagues alike. We have all been made better because of his influence and leadership.”
In addition to coaching at the University of Windsor, Fairall has also enjoyed an extensive international coaching career. He was the Head Coach of the 1985 and 1989 Canadian Maccabi Games entry in Israel as well as serving as Head Coach of Team Canada at the 1989 World University Games team in Duisburg, West Germany. He was also a member of the 1989, 1995, 1997 and 1999 World University Games Canadian coaching staffs.
In 2005, Dennis served as the Head Coach of Team Canada at the Pan American Junior Athletics Championships held in Windsor. Under his direction, Team Canada earned their highest medal count in the history of the event.
Fairall’s outstanding achievements in coaching were recognized in 2012 with his induction into the Windsor-Essex Sports Hall of Fame and in 2013 by being honoured with the Queen Elizabeth II Diamond Jubilee Medal. He was also inducted into the Athletics Ontario Hall of Fame earlier this fall and he will receive the Petro Canada Coaching Award of Excellence later this year.
“As a coach, Dennis has done a fantastic job motivating his athletes to succeed not only in their sport but also in the classroom,” added Dean of the Faculty of Human Kinetics Dr. Michael Khan. “Although he coached an individual sport, his focus was always on the team and he led by instilling the values of teamwork in his athletes. We are extremely proud of Dennis and the legacy he has created here at the University of Windsor.”
Currently, Dennis continues to coach Canadian middle distance star runner Melissa Bishop, who recently won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games. Under Dennis’s direction, she also set a new Canadian record in the 800 metres this past summer while also capturing a silver medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing, China.
Associate head coach Brett Lumley will continue his duties as the acting head coach of the Lancer track and field program for the remainder of the 2015-16 season while Gary Malloy will continue as head coach of the Lancer cross country team.