The Western community has lost another football legend this week. Former coach and professor Larry Haylor died from cardiac arrest Jan. 6 at the age of 76.
Haylor was the head coach of the Mustangs football team from 1984 to 2006. Current head coach Greg Marshall remembers Haylor as a compassionate man who made an impact on university football in Canada and on him on a personal level.
“Larry was always there for me. When I had my first serious knee injury in football, he was the first one to call to tell me everything would be ok. When I decided to retire from pro football, he was the first one to call to ask me to come back to coach with him. When my best friend, Mike Kirkley, was killed in a tragic plane crash, it was Larry who called. I was coaching at McMaster at the time, and I drove to London the next day so I could be with Larry so he could comfort and console me,” said Marshall.
Marshall succeeded Haylor as Mustangs head coach in 2007.
“When I was fired by the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, it was Larry calling to say he’d like me to take over as head coach at Western. Larry was so much more than a successful football coach. He was a caring, giving man that made a positive impact on the young men he coached.”
News of Haylor’s passing follows the loss of another Mustangs legend Darwin Semotiuk, Haylor’s predecessor.
“It has been a difficult couple of weeks for our Mustang family, and the loss of legendary football coach Larry Haylor is really hard to process,” said Christine Stapleton, Western director, sport & recreation. “He shaped the lives of many as a coach, a professor in the School of Kinesiology, and volunteer with the Special Olympics.”
During his tenure with the Mustangs, Haylor led the team to 185 wins, including two Vanier Cup titles in 1989 and 1994, and eight Yates Cup championships. He was named coach of the year seven times by the Ontario University Athletics Association, and was a two-time CIAU (Now U SPORTS) coach of the year. He was inducted into the London Sports Hall of Fame in 2012, and then into the Canadian Football Hall of Fame in 2014.
Born in Prince Albert, Sask., Haylor was a quarterback for the University of Saskatchewan’s football team during the 1966-67 seasons, and served as assistant coach from 1971 to 1973. In 1974, Haylor moved east to Halifax to be the offensive co-coordinator for the Dalhousie Tigers. Before the season was over, he left for London, Ont. to work as the offensive coordinator for the Mustangs.
In addition to his coaching legacy, Haylor made significant contributions to Western’s academic mission. He joined the Faculty of Physical Education (now the School of Kinesiology) in 1975 as a lecturer and later became associate professor. He taught in the areas of coaching, leadership, and growth and development, and was active in the classroom until his retirement in 2011 when he was granted professor emeritus status.
“We know how much he was loved by all those that had the pleasure to know him, and we know the memories and his legacy will live on,” the Haylor family said in a statement. “We take comfort in knowing that he and Darwin are together at this time as they started their journey at Western together, and the families spent many holiday seasons together. Larry will be missed deeply, and we hope the memories we all have of him will help us get through this difficult time.”
Haylor was actively involved with the Special Olympics and was a member of the Canadian Amateur Football Association National Sport Research Committee. He retired from coaching in 2006 but stayed involved with the Mustangs as he transitioned into the broadcast booth, where he provided colour commentary for the Mustangs football broadcast on Newstalk 1290 CJBK, alongside former Mustang Tom McConnell, BA’94.
“He was my coach for five years, my broadcast partner for the past nine seasons, and my friend. He was both generous in his time and wisdom, and even though he’s in the Canadian Football Hall of Fame, his non-coaching advice to me as a husband, father and person was even more valuable. The only thing that exceeded his passion for football, was the love for his family. I will miss his kind words, sharp analysis, and joy of life,” said McConnell.
For more on Haylor’s impact on the Western community, read the Mustangs’ tribute.