VANCOUVER – After nearly a decade at the helm of the UBC Thunderbirds softball program, the head coach Gord Collings announced his retirement.
Since being hired in the summer of 2013, the former Delta School District teacher and administrator has successfully led his team through more curveballs than any other UBC program, while developing his team and building dozens of young players, while making four consecutive appearances. at the Cascade Collegiate Conference tournament.
“It was just about time,” Collings said of his bittersweet decision to retire. “Family is number one and I will be spending more time with my wife, daughters and grandchildren, having the opportunity to help them and watch the children grow up and it will all be huge. I will always be there, I “I will be offering support as much as I can from a distance. I will help with the transition to the new coach and also in any way I can to help the program continue to grow and be successful. And enjoy some time off. holidays too.
To say that Collings was more than a coach is to underestimate his impact not only on his own program, but on the entire UBC athletic community.
A UBC alumnus himself, graduating in 1975 with a Bachelor of Science and adding a Masters of Education in 1985, Collings oversaw the re-establishment of the softball program as a varsity team, weathered two lost seasons and the choppy waters of COVID -19, and led the transition to a new permanent home on campus last year.
Until the fall of 2021, the team had competed at Softball City in South Surrey, a facility that never quite felt like home given its hour-long commute from UBC itself. But Collings’ tireless efforts and with the help of donors and alumni, the team found a new home in Westbrook Village. Named after the beloved coach, Collings Field at Nobel Park will be a lasting legacy for the man who saved the program and led it to become the highly competitive team it is today.
“Recovering the program and going through all the challenges that have come with coming back as a varsity team, I think that’s what I’m most proud of,” Collings said, reflecting on his nine years with UBC. “We got cut and now we’re back and going strong with the field and the opportunity with the players to play on campus, I think those two are the biggest.”
Playing in their first full CCC campaign in three years, 2022 saw the T-Birds finish the season with a 21-20 overall record, the first time above .500 since joining the conference in 2016. team has won its last five conference games. to qualify for the Cascade Tournament where they turned heads by eliminating the reigning two-time NAIA champion Southern Oregon Raiders.
“Just the way we reformed then in the playoffs… knocking out the defending champions pretty good, it was just very rewarding to see the commitment and dedication from the players. I’m very proud of what they did and the way they represented our school, it’s a great feeling. When I say mixed feelings, it’s the positive, knowing that they’ve done so well.
From the positive progress made over the past season at the new home ground bearing his own name, Collings is leaving the program stronger than ever.
“I’m very encouraged by the future and I’m optimistic about the success of the team. It’s in a good position and I think it’s the right time to move to a place where players can compete and be proud of what they’ve done. It’s a good time.
The search for UBC’s next softball head coach will be underway in the coming weeks.