Lancers Mourn the Passing of Legendary Dennis Fairall
The University of Windsor Lancers are extremely saddened by the passing of legendary Lancer head coach Dennis Fairall. He was 67 years old.
The “Big Dawg”, as he was affectionately known, was part of the Lancer family for thirty years as head coach of the cross country and track & field programs from 1985 until his retirement in 2015. He had a lifetime of great personal athletic achievement and reached great heights as one of the best track and field coaches in Canadian history.
Fairall battled progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a rare degenerative brain disease that has no cure that slowly effected his mobility and speech.
“Dennis Fairall was a special person. His record of accomplishment put the University of Windsor and the Lancers track and field and cross country programs on the map. But that was not what made him special. He was a humble and incredibly effective team builder and collaborator. He positively impacted so many student-athletes and community groups over the years that keeping count was impossible. His coaching tree is wide and deep; and that impact will continue to be felt for years. When you met with Dennis you always felt better afterwards. He made you feel good. That was his gift. We were lucky to have him as a colleague. Our hearts ache for Janet and Jeremy and Erin… and the entire Lancer family.” – Mike Havey, Director of Athletics
Among the hundreds of outstanding achievements in a stellar career, Fairall led the Lancers to 25 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships, 46 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) titles, and had been honoured 65 times as either CIS or OUA coach of the year in track and field and/or cross country. Leading into his retirement, his Lancer teams had 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.
In February 2016, the University of Windsor renamed the fieldhouse inside the St. Denis Centre to the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse.
Fairall began his coaching career in his hometown of Tillsonburg in 1974 when he founded the Tillsonburg Legion Track Club. He remained the club’s head coach until 1985 when he joined the University of Windsor. Fairall coached several national teams and served as head coach of Team Canada at the 2005 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships held in Windsor. Under his direction, Team Canada earned their highest medal count in the history of the event.