Passing the Baton
Lou Rene Legge (1948 – 2020) was the second athletics director of Douglas College. She became the director in 1982, and carried on with the role right until her retirement from Douglas in 2008.
Douglas Athletics, like the SPSC program, began operating in 1970 under Gert’s supervision. As the College crossed into the early 1980s, Gert felt the two programs, which were both rapidly expanding, were growing beyond the management of a single individual. In light of this realization, he hired Lou, who took on the Athletics side in 1982.
Like Gert, Lou was a pioneer in raising the Athletics program. She took on the responsibilities Gert already had, and continued to expand the program no matter the challenge.
Over the years, Lou developed countless programs and coaches under her wing. Some programs she had up and running included cross country, baseball, women’s softball, track, soccer, volleyball, basketball, and many more.
“As the first athletic director[s] here, her [Lou] and Gert built things from scratch. And when you’re building things from scratch, you are the history of the program.”David Munro, on Lou and Gert’s role and influence as Athletic Directors
Beyond the Border
One of Lou’s most significant contributions to Athletics was the unprecedented decision to take Douglas sports teams across to the US.
In earlier decades, Canada had a limited selection of sports that had leagues at the collegiate level. Some sports – badminton, soccer, basketball, volleyball, and so on – had Canadian leagues such as PACWEST (then called the Totem Conference) to belong to. However, Douglas students who did not play these specific sports had little opportunity to compete and grow because they had no established leagues to play in.
To make sure the students who practiced different sports could develop as athletes, Lou looked to the US for opportunities. She entered teams into leagues in the US, such as the Northwest Athletic Conference (NWAC),* and ensured students had the chance to properly compete within the association.
After being properly registered in the Conference, Lou took sports like baseball, women’s softball, track, and cross country across the border; the wrestling club, as another example, was able to take part in US tournaments, travel across the US, and train for the Pan American Games. These programs, which would not have existed if they did not have US leagues to take part in, would also eventually play a part in fostering athlete figures like Daniel Igali and Scott Richmond.
*Note that Douglas College is the only Canadian institution listed as a member of NWAC (as a result of Lou’s efforts).
Promoting Women’s and Disability Sports
As athletics director, Lou was resolute in promoting opportunities for women in sports.
She created more programs catered towards women, such as women’s-only golf, with lessons taking place during summer months; the creation of the women’s softball program, mentioned earlier, is also part of this effort. She constantly looked to hire an equal number of women as coaches, and tried to create sports programs that had the option of the women’s side.
Alongside Tim and others, Lou was also proactive in disability sport initiatives. Whenever she did tasks like creating gym schedules, Lou would always ensure there were blocks committed to wheelchair basketball; these blocks would be used by the BC Wheelchair Sports Association for training and competition.
Lou retired from Douglas College in 2008. David Munro (Sports Institute Program Manager, close friend and colleague of Lou) recalls when Lou announced her retirement at the annual general meeting in the US: it was a moment that he says he would never forget.
“[The scene] nobody else [from Douglas College] saw was the standing ovation coming from the US schools upon her retirement…To see the level of respect that they had for the work that she did – it was just incredible; it was touching. I wish I had my phone going at that time, ‘cuz it just floored the room.”David, on the reception to Lou’s announcement of retirement
Lou passed away on September 1st, 2020. In reflection of Lou’s character and the support she had given to others as athletics director, David says:
“She [Lou] was your number one supporter from the day you entered Douglas College…and even after you left, she was still following up and still making sure and seeing if there was anything she could to do help. She just took a personal approach to everyone that came through her doors.”