Coach Allen will be missed

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January 27, 2016 2:05 PM

Phil Allen was the first mens' basketball head coach at Lakeland College and brought two ACAC silver medals to the program.

Phil Allen may have won 805 games as post-secondary basketball coach — the most of any post-secondary coach in Canadian history — but that number pales in comparison to the number of young student-athletes he helped gain a higher education through the sport.
Allen, who spent 28 years coaching college basketball, winning nine Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference men’s basketball championships, as well as two national championships with the SAIT Trojans, passed away at the age of 63 while on vacation in Costa Rica.
Between SAIT, Grant MacEwan College and Lakeland College, Allen became the winningest coach in Canadian basketball at the college or university level, but it was Allen’s ability to use the sport as a way of giving young men, who weren’t given many chances in life, an opportunity to play basketball and earn an education.
“The most important thing to Phil was utilizing the sport of basketball as a carrot to help get kids an education and then see them become leaders in the communities they went into afterwards,” said Allan Rogan, Lakeland’s athletics and recreation co-ordinator.
“Phil took chances on kids a lot of other people wouldn’t take a chance on because it required work,” he said.
Allen never backed down from a challenge, said Rogan.
“He would take on these young student-athletes and do his best to help them take a better path in life by using basketball as that carrot to do that.”
On the court, Allen had a competitive drive that couldn’t be matched.
He demanded the most of his players in practice and during games and meticulously wrote down all his practices and games in notebooks.
Away from the court, however, Allen went out of his way to help his players in any aspect of their life; be it personal or school, ensuring they had the best opportunity to succeed in college.
Winning was important, but to Allen, it wasn’t the most important thing.
“He was able to motivate individuals, even if they were only here for one or two years, he could get the best out of those kids,” said Chris Kings, current women’s basketball head coach at Lakeland College and a former player under Allen.
“He did take a lot of chances, but he was one of those, saw the good in everyone,” she said.
Kings added Allen was tough as anyone, and had a “rattle snake mentality” in practice.
“He was a competitor and when you stepped on the court his expectations were high, start to finish,” said Kings.
“As practice finished, he would pump egos, get guys built back up and do a good job of talking to guys outside of practice about school and life and motivating.”
Whether it was basketball, his job at the college, helping students, his own family, or even his golf game, both Rogan and King said Allen’s passion for life is why the fabled coach will be most be remembered.
Rogan said Allen never took on anything he couldn’t be passionate about and when Rogan pictures him in his mind, the coach is always moving at a high pace, as if unable to sit still because of how passionate he would get about the projects he would take on.
“He would be willing to give you a hand as long as you treated him with respect,” said Rogan.
“And it wasn’t just student-athletes — anyone Phil met, he wanted to help that person succeed.”
Rogan said Allen was “almost the coach and cheerleader” at the same time.”
There are the championships, records and awards Allen received over his career, but more importantly to Allen would have been the success stories, the number of student-athletes he helped succeed.
For that, for his passion in every avenue of life and the legacy he has left on the court, Allen will be missed.
“I’m going to take away the most just how passionate he was about everything,” said King.
“It makes you reevaluate your life when you think about how passionate he was.”

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