Stingers welcome Georgians for 50th anniversary
The idea for the 50th anniversary reunion of the Sir George Williams Georgians football team was hatched in a Montreal West barbershop. There, legendary football coach Pete Regimbald, BA 73, spotted a former Georgians player, Bruce Charron, BComm 72.
“They sort of recognized each other and started talking about the old days,” says Ralph Loader, BComm 71, MBA 75, who played fullback in 1969-70 for the football squad of Sir George Williams — one of Concordia’s founding institutions.
“There was an immediate bonding and determination to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the Georgians,” says Loader. “So they reached out to me, Bobby Bindon [BA 71] — currently assistant head coach of the John Abbott College Islanders — and Kevin Cross [attendee] to round out our Georgian Reunion Committee. Coach Pete suggested the Concordia Stingers might be able to do something at Homecoming.”
Regimbald has been coaching football since 1968 — he’s now the Stingers’ special teams coach, and 2018 will mark his 50th and final season at Concordia. He describes the Georgians as the “lost cousins” of Concordia sports because of the 1974 merger of Sir George Williams and Loyola College that created the university.
“I used to coach the Loyola Warriors, and the Georgians keep talking about how they beat the Warriors,” Regimbald says about the good-natured ribbing he received. “They were like the Bad News Bears, and I think most of their meetings were held in taverns! They were tough guys and outstanding athletes.”
The Stingers and their fans honoured and celebrated the 1967-1972 Georgians teams at a series of reunion activities in September 2017. That included a gathering at the Stingers’ practice on Friday and dinner afterward, plus a tribute at the Homecoming Football Game at Loyola Campus, where the Stingers handily defeated the McGill University Redmen 68-16.
“The biggest challenge was finding the guys because many of them had moved on or passed away over the years,” says Loader.
“We managed to get 33 former Georgians to attend and it was a love fest! The camaraderie, the brotherhood that we established in the late ’60s — those were pretty heady years with student revolutions and the FLQ here in Quebec. It was a hell of a time to be a young man. Most of us were a bunch of poor kids given an opportunity. So our teams really bonded.”
The players also reconnected over a Friday evening pre-game dinner with the Stingers.
“We sat two Georgians per table with our players, and they told us stories and reminisced,” says Mickey Donovan, BA 06, Stingers' football head coach until January 2018, when he moved to the CFL. “It was amazing to meet all of the guys. Our players really enjoyed it. At the end of the day, no matter the colours or the name of the team, we’re all family, and that’s what we wanted to make the Georgians feel.”
Loader agrees the Stingers pre-game dinner was special. “Those young players really heightened the emotional impact of the reunion. They were so welcoming, shook our hands and thanked us for coming back,” he says.
“One of the big things to come out of this was we created a venue for the Georgians to mentor the young football players,” Regimbald adds.
He’s also pleased the 50th-anniversary reunion “is a stepping stone in getting the Georgians involved as university alumni. A lot of them were not in contact with alumni, and they certainly want to contribute back to the university through mentorship and, hopefully, be part of fundraising activities in support of the football program.”
Loader agrees: “Since Homecoming we have maintained contact with each other and there is a desire to continue, to have annual or bi-annual reunions to support the Stingers and Concordia.”