Legendary Rustlers coach honoured

By Jamie Harkins

June 7, 2018 9:42 AM

Former Lakeland College Rustlers men’s basketball head coach Phil Allen has been inducted into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame. SUBMITTED PHOTO

A Rustler is in the Hall of Fame.
Former Lakeland College Rustlers men’s basketball coach Phil Allen was inducted posthumously into the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and Museum as a builder of the game on Friday.
Allen served as head coach of the Rustlers for five years, taking the team to the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) championships in 2008, before retiring to the role of Lakeland College vice-president and director of marketing and recruitment.
The longtime coach came to Lakeland College after guiding the Southern Alberta Institute of Technology (SAIT) Trojans to nine Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC) championships from 1978 to 1992 before returning to his original bench with the Grant MacEwan Griffins for seven seasons.
He holds the record for most wins among post-secondary basketball coaches in Canada at 805 and his teams have combined to capture two CCAA titles and 10 ACAC championships.
Alan Rogan, athletic director at Lakeland College, said Allen’s success on the court was incredible, but his leadership off of it may have been what earned him a spot in the Hall of Fame. He said Allen used the sport of basketball to motivate young men to become better people.
“When he worked with students, whether it was student athletes when he was coaching the team or whether it was students he was teaching in the classroom, he tried to bring the best out,” said Rogan.
“He tried to get them to work harder to see how good they could be. That’s one of Phil’s qualities. He always saw the good in people.”
Allen was inducted into the ACAC Hall of Fame in 2014 for his achievements with the Trojans, Griffins and Rustlers, but his reach in Alberta basketball circles extends much farther.
He also served as coach of the Canadian men’s wheelchair basketball team, helped develop the club basketball program in Edmonton and founded the annual SAIT Holiday Classic Tournament that continues to this day.
Rogan said the branch of wisdom that he learned from Allen is to never judge a book by its cover. He said Allen took a lot of chances on players who didn’t appear able to make the grade, but his leadership and ability to help them grow into who they could be always shone through.
“Phil had been around the sport of basketball for a number of years (before joining Lakeland College),” said Rogan.
“If you talk to even some of the faculty or staff at the college, they’d say that Phil was a mentor to them. He helped them whether it was through their role as a faculty member or just as a student athlete. A lot of people say they learned a lot from Phil when he was at the college.”

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