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Family ties to Concordia inspire $20,000 gift in support of Stingers hockey

Mike Devereux: ‘Concordia was the place where I grew up’
March 18, 2021
By Joanne Latimer, MFA 94

Mike Devereux, BA 04, left, with his father Kevin Devereux, BA 74, on Kevin's 70th birthday.

Mike Devereux, BA 04, and his partner Maggie (Katz) Devereux, BEng 03, held their breath as Mike’s father opened the gift they bought him for his 70th birthday.

The mysterious box was a surprise to Kevin Devereux, who laced up with the 1973-74 Concordia Sports Hall of Fame hockey team at Sir George Williams University — one of Concordia’s founding institutions.

Tears filled Kevin’s eyes as he lifted the lid and held up a brand-new Stingers jersey with his name and age on the back.

And there was more.

To honour Kevin’s commitment to his community over the years, Mike and Maggie also made a $20,000 gift to the Campaign for Concordia: Next-Gen. Now, in support of Stingers hockey teams.

Maggie (Katz) Devereux, BEng (mechanical) 03, and Mike, BA 04, relaxing at home in Toronto.

“My father has a tradition of giving back, donating to the Canadian Cancer Society and the Children’s Wish Foundation,” says Mike, a partner in the Capital Markets and Mergers and Acquisitions Groups at Stikeman Elliott LLP in Toronto.

“In that spirit, we wanted to do something to honour our family’s deep ties to Concordia.”

The Devereux Family Stingers Hockey Award will fund 10 scholarships of $2,000 annually to a player on each of the men’s and women’s hockey teams for the next five years. The award will be given to the players who demonstrate a combination of leadership and academic potential.

“Student athletes have a unique advantage that opens doors for them in the working world. They’ve already proven they can function well under stressful circumstances and as team players, so they stand out as job applicants,” adds Mike, who was a U Sports Academic All-Canadian at Concordia.

“I loved my experience at Concordia and I’m happy to be able to give back and honour my father while he’s alive.”

Concordia connections

Mike Devereux, BA (economics) 04, and Maggie (Katz) Devereux, BEng (mechanical) 03, met at Concordia.

Mike played hockey for the Stingers from 2000 to 2003 while pursuing his undergraduate degree in economics. Maggie was on the women’s soccer team while studying to become a mechanical engineer.

They first met in 2000 at a drug-testing seminar for varsity athletes — “romantic, right?” jokes Maggie — yet didn’t date until a few years later.

“Being involved in varsity sports helped me complete the degree and keep my head straight,” says Maggie, who was MVP in her fourth year on the team. “It provided a strong support network and structure. It was a huge part of my life. Then, my engineering professors taught me how to problem solve, how to see the world.”

Like Mike, Maggie is a second-generation Concordian. Her father Charles “Herb” Katz, BA 68, attended Sir George Williams University. Her family always encouraged her to play soccer.

“The team evolved over the five years that I was there and so did I,” says Maggie. “By my last year, we were a winning team and that journey stayed with me.”

After completing her MBA in Ottawa, Maggie spent 12 years with TD Bank Group, promoted through the ranks in credit management and commercial credit risk management — all while raising two children with Mike.

Following her heart, she left finance in 2017 to become a lifestyle and documentary family photographer.

“As a second career, photography was a big change, but it was the right decision,” she says. “Getting an engineering degree from Concordia, followed by my MBA, gave me the capacity to work hard and see things through.”

Mike also reflects fondly about his time on campus.

“Concordia was the place where I grew up, where I became responsible and learned how to apply myself academically and not just on the ice,” he says.

Combining philanthropy and fitness

Kevin Devereux in the 1970s, in his old hockey uniform, on ice. Concordia sports hall-of-famer Kevin Devereux in the early 1970s, when he played defense for the Stingers.

Mike notes that his father’s commitment to health and charity has never waned. For Kevin's last milestone birthday, the family patriarch did something extraordinary.

“To mark his 60th,” Mike recalls, “dad rode his bike from Toronto to Montreal in the inaugural Canada Company and North American Moving Services’ Tour de Force challenge — a six-day bike marathon — to raise money to fund scholarships for children of fallen Canadian Forces personnel.”

Tears of joy

Over the phone, Kevin Devereux sounds like a man half his age. He was tremendously moved by the gifts from Maggie and Mike.

“It made me feel 20 years younger and I wanted to lace on the skates for the Stingers again when I found out how gracious my son and daughter-in-law were for my 70th,” says Kevin. “What a great day. Tears ran down my cheeks as I read about the scholarship and then put on that special Concordia jersey.”  

Mike approached Stingers hockey coach Marc-André Elément for help with the commemorative jersey. The gesture wasn’t lost on Kevin. The former defenceman still follows the Stingers today.

“Let’s continue the tradition of growing the Stingers hockey teams into national contenders once we finally combat COVID-19,” says Kevin. “Memories way back to the 1970s continue to flash through my mind. Wow, those were great times.”

Post-hockey success

Kevin grew up in the Montreal borough of Verdun. He met his wife Debbie at a hockey party in downtown Montreal.

After hanging up his skates for the Georgians, Kevin embarked on a career in the moving and storage business, eventually becoming vice-president, Canada, for North American Van Lines. He thrived in that role for nearly two decades, then retired in June 2019.

Kevin claims his days playing hockey gave him invaluable skills for the corporate world: “It’s about creating a team atmosphere, with everyone’s oars rowing in the same direction.”

He credits former hockey coach Bob Phillips and the assistant coach Wayne Halliwell Jr., now an eminent sports psychologist, for teaching him by example how to motivate teams and create cohesion.

“It worked on the ice, so I created the same team atmosphere in the office,” he concludes. “Student athletes have a lot to offer and will play an important part building our future.”


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