Coach Sheahan: A new experience
Ryan Sheahan considers himself to have had a charmed life in the game of football. It’s interesting to hear a man who is just 38 years old frame his experience that way but that’s the reality for the Guelph Gryphons’ new head coach.
After four memorable years as the assistant head coach and offensive coordinator with the Canada powerhouse Calgary Dinos, Sheahan has taken the reins of Gryphon Football. He was officially named head coach back on Jan. 10, 2019 and after a long winter of patiently waiting, the new OUA season, with a new man at the top, is here.
The fit could not be better.
“When this opportunity came up, I wanted to do my own investigation,” says Coach Sheahan. “And what I discovered is that there a lot of people in this program that care about football, care about the players, and care about winning.
“The support from the alumni, the Advancement team led by Stu Lang and the administration, they all care about the team being good. And I always want to work for a program that cares about all the right things.
“I was really happy (in Calgary) but once I took a close look, I realized that this might be the right opportunity to step up and test myself. Great things happen outside your comfort zone.”
Sheahan has been soaking up football knowledge since his childhood, with much of it coming courtesy of his U SPORTS coaching legend father Pat. The former QB played for his dad at Queen’s from 2001-04 and was the assistant offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach at his alma mater when Pat led the Gaels to a Vanier Cup win in 2009.
Their relationship helped shape the kind of coach and leader that Sheahan would become. He became a willing student of the game at a young age with direct exposure to some of the most influential names in Canadian football, like Gerry McGrath, Dan McKinnon, Pat Gregory, Wally Buono, Don Sweet, and current Toronto Argonauts offensive coordinator Jacques Chapdelaine.
These were men on Pat’s speed dial and the younger Sheahan learned everything he could from them, in addition to paying close attention to his dad.
“I’ve had access to some pretty amazing people, none greater than my father, who was a hard worker, great communicator, and a great leader,” Coach Sheahan says. “I got to watch and be around one of the best, day in and day out, not just on the field but also at home at the dinner table, doing your homework. We were raised the right way in a caring environment but a competitive environment.”
It’s interesting that after 19 years coaching Queen’s, Pat has moved to Calgary to fill the same role that his son occupied. And in a strange twist, they will be big shoes to fill considering that the younger Sheahan played a significant role in the Dinos’ recent run of success. Calgary won Canada West in both 2016 and 2017, making appearances in both the Vanier Cup and the Mitchell Bowl.
Where Sheahan had his greatest influence is understandably with the quarterbacks. Both Andrew Buckley and Adam Sinagra each established U SPORTS passing yardage records and won the Hec Crighton Trophy as national MVP in the 2015 and 2018 seasons respectively.
Sheahan is no stranger to his new quarterback, Guelph’s talented fifth-year man Theo Landers. Sheahan coached the Maple Ridge, BC native at the East West Bowl earlier in the year and the quarterback came away with a very distinct impression of the man tasked with guiding the Gryphons.
“Coach is a competitor,” says Landers. “He wants to win and that feeds into the team.
“He’s super intense but he has high expectations and I think that’s great. He holds us to a high standard and it makes everyone hold themselves to a high standard.”
As Gryphon training camp wore on, Sheahan was still in the process of learning what the Gryphon offence could accomplish and where they would excel. But as far as what the first-year head coach expects from the team as a whole, it doesn’t deviate from what he’s learned throughout his distinguished playing and coaching career.
“We stress accountability and effort in everything that we do but at the same time supporting each other around every turn,” says Coach Sheahan. “I really want a physical team and a very fast team.
“And if we can accomplish that, and eliminate mistakes, I think we’ll do okay.”
written by: david dicenzo