Ironmen president Ron Lee calls the appointment a milestone in the history of one of the Ontario Varsity Football League’s premier franchises.
“Kyle Quinlan is a proven winner, a tremendous leader with a charismatic personality who will boost the profile of the Ironmen program throughout the Hamilton football community and beyond,” said Lee. “He has a great football mind and a unique status as a Vanier Cup champion, qualities that will draw attention to our successful program among potential recruits.
“We are thrilled that Kyle has agreed to join our program in a leadership role. Success breeds success, and no one has had more success in recent years than Kyle Quinlan.”
Quinlan, 24, played five seasons with the Marauders, including four years as the starting quarterback in Ontario University Athletics. In 2011 he was awarded the Ted Morris Memorial Trophy as Most Valuable Player of the Vanier Cup, Canada’s university football championship, after guiding McMaster to their first Vanier Cup win, over Laval; he won the Hec Crighton Trophy as the CIS’s Most Valuable Player in 2012; and capped off his career in April 2013 when he was named the CIS male athlete of the year.
Quinlan is currently a backfield coach with the Marauders and works in the university’s alumni office. He will maintain his McMaster coaching position, with its fall season, while he takes on the job with the Ironmen, who play in the spring. Quinlan will immediately begin scouting high school games for potential Ironmen recruits.
The Ironmen play Tier One football in the OVFL, Ontario’s top rep organization, with teams in peewee, bantam, junior varsity and varsity divisions. The varsity squad, with players aged 17 to 19, often grooms athletes for university ball. Quinlan, from Woodslee, Ont. near Windsor, formerly played for the Essex Ravens of the OVFL before enrolling at McMaster.
“I feel very lucky, very honoured to accept this responsibility,” Quinlan said. “I think very highly of the league, and when I played for Essex I always regarded the Ironmen as a top program. I feel very privileged to have been offered this tremendous opportunity to bring my coaching skills to the Ironmen program.”
Quinlan says that for several years he has been planning a career in coaching after his playing days, and in his final two seasons with McMaster he was welcomed into coaching meetings by McMaster head coach Stefan Ptaszek and offensive coordinator Jon Behie, where he helped develop game plans.
“For some time now I have planned to become a coach, and I aim to continue coaching as long as I can,” he said, noting that there is a proven pipeline of former successful CIS quarterbacks who have advanced to important coaching roles in university ball, including Mike Faulds, who was appointed head coach at Laurier University earlier this year while still in his 20s.
“I love the Xs and Os of football, and can’t wait to create my own offensive system,” said Quinlan. “At Mac, I spent many hours in the film room watching video, and of course as a quarterback you have to know the responsibilities of all 12 players on the field on every play. I enjoyed the leadership role as a quarterback where I could instruct and inspire teammates. I have always been a vocal type of guy who encourages players to be their best.”
Ironmen president Lee said, “Kyle has natural leadership skills as an all-star quarterback and we are confident in his ability to lead the program on the football side. He will have the complete support of the Ironmen board of directors who will take care of the administrative side of the program and let Kyle do his job on the field.”
With Quinlan assuming the role of head coach of its top team – the varsity Ironmen – it will send a signal throughout the football community at all levels that the Ironmen remains the preeminent program for player development, Lee said. The announcement of a formal partnership with the Hamilton Minor Football Association this spring, with its youth house-league program for youngsters aged 8 to 14 and rep teams that play in the fall, is another cornerstone in the development of an all-inclusive development program, he said. “The signing of Kyle Quinlan to be head coach of our varsity program is an important component of that feeder system. With Kyle coming into our program, it will really step it up a notch.”
Quinlan plans to take advantage of his strong and continuing relationship with the McMaster program and players to build his varsity program, including his coaching staff. “When I got the job, I immediately contacted some of my former teammates who I knew wanted to be involved in coaching and were leaders and winners. I aim to carry forward that winning attitude we had at McMaster into the Ironmen program.”
Quinlan will work with a staff of 10 to 12 assistant coaches and a handful of other consulting coaches. He will be confirming his coaching staff in upcoming weeks.
“I am an offensive specialist and am confident I can put together a great offense,” Quinlan said. “With some of my former teammates on staff, we will have a passionate and knowledgeable group that will put our players in a position to achieve great success.”
Quinlan cites his former Essex Ravens head coach Glen Mills along with McMaster coaches Ptaszek and Behie as among those who will influence his coaching style.
The Ironmen have been leaders in innovation at the OVFL level in recent years, with their program for mandatory concussion testing being adopted by the league last year and another innovative program, to boost the training of team trainers, also serving as a league-wide template.