Coaches make a difference
"We all benefit from being involved with sport; it teaches life lessons and makes us all better people."
Tom Sargeant, head coach of the Prairie Football Conference's Saskatoon Hilltops, has truly been shaped by coaches.
"Every coach I had made a difference and had a major impact on my life," said Sargeant. "Sometimes they don't even know that, but there's a piece of each one inside me that I use on a daily basis to make a difference with others, both inside and outside the sporting arena."
Sargeant became head coach of the Hilltops franchise in 1998. He was a former assistant coach and player prior to that. As a coach, Sargeant has been truly effective in building a winning culture on and off the football field.
On the football field, Sargeant has led the Hilltops to 10 Canadian Bowl Championships in 11 appearances and an overall record of 139-23-3. Twice, the Hilltops have won the national title in three consecutive years (2001-03 and 2010-12). Sargeant has helped forge the Hilltop legacy, as the team has won the most total championships (17) in league history.
Saskatoon also won the most recent national championship in 2014.
"Because of the loyalty that they displayed and showed they were rewarded with another championship ring," said Sargeant. "But I said they were going to leave as champions with or without a ring because of the work ethic and the process they put into it, not to mention the friendships they gain forever. It was a special moment for them that I'll never forget."
Off the football field, Sargeant's Hilltops have served as true ambassadors in the community. The Hilltops participate in fundraisers such as the Easter Seal Drop Zone, which helps raise money for Camp Easter Seal. Numerous players are often involved as coaches with Saskatoon Minor Football (SMF). In 2012, over one third of the 79 players on the team had volunteered as SMF coaches.
"I hope to have a major impact on the lives of the athletes I coach," said Sargeant, who also passes on his guidance to students in his position as principal of Centennial Collegiate in Saskatoon. "We all benefit from being involved with sport; it teaches life lessons and makes us all better people."
Sargeant has won numerous awards, including the Saskatchewan Sport Awards 2012 Coach of the Year. He feels that the more a coach gets out of the experience of coaching, the more the athletes benefit in the long run.
"Due to the connections, the relationships, the friendships, you're going to grow more than the people you coach," said Sargeant. "That's a selfish thing, but at the end of the day that's going to make you better inside this world. When you make a difference with others, those others are going to go on and make a difference and at the end of the day we're going to have a better world and a better place to live."
• Saskatoon Hilltops
• Football Saskatchewan
• Coaches Association of Saskatchewan