For the present and future Gryphons, their new football pavilion comes with a demand from former head coach Stu Lang.
“Yes, I want the players and coaches to be excited and proud when they enter the pavilion, but more than that, I want them to be fearful. Not a negative and immobilizing fear, but a positive and motivating fear,” Lang said as he addressed those gathered for the grand opening of the new facility. “I want them to say ‘Oh oh,’ as they come through the doors. ‘Oh, oh,’ meaning this gift comes with a demand.
“This gift demands that they not just become the best person they want to be, but the best person God wants them to be and that is a much loftier goal. I want them to think as they walk around the pavilion what this building means -- not the bricks and mortar, but the hidden reasons for the building. What are they continually learning about this place? The pavilion is more than for capturing recruits and championships. What is at the heart of this place? What will our present and future players say?”
Lang, the team’s head coach emeritus, and his wife Kim donated the finances needed to build the pavilion that eventually cost more than $10 million.
“Kim and I are very appreciative of the recognition, but there are many unsung heroes who are present. Unfortunately, the big cheque always gets way too much attention,” Lang said. “When you have been blessed the way we have, it is sometimes difficult to agree on what and where to donate. There are many causes and needs in this world, but Kim has fully supported the decision to build this pavilion.”
The pavilion is a state of the art facility that includes separate meeting rooms for every positional team with the team. The dressing room is spacious with each player’s stall featuring his name and former school and a locker in which the player can charge his electronic devices. There’s a boardroom, a sauna, recovery room with two ice tubs which has got to beat sitting in the big tube-like ones under the stands on cold October days, study areas and a barber room. And there are televisions everywhere. And there’s the patio area on top where alumni will be able to watch the games.
Lang and the Gryphons decided on the project during the 2015 season, their OUA championship Yates Cup season. A few of the players on that team are still with the squad to reap the benefits of the building.
“I want to thank all the players and staff I had a privilege of coaching. It was an honour to walk out onto the field with them,” Lang said. “They had the faith to commit to a dream that had not yet any substance. This pavilion was built because of them and for the players that will follow them. It is said that one who plants the acorn is not the one who sits in the shade of the oak tree. I hope all the post-2015 football players remember who to thank for this marvelous facility.”
The Gryphs who suited up for the Homecoming Game against the McMaster Marauders used the new facility while their teammates who watched from the stands moved in a few days later.
The University of Guelph also took to change the name of the road that both the new facility and Alumni Stadium sit on from Powerhouse Lane to Lang Way.
“In this fast-paced, fast-changing world, it’s very easy to move through this life and not take a moment to pause and show gratitude,” U of G President Franco Vaccarino said. “I think this is one of those moments that are extremely important for all of us to recognize the incredible good fortune that we have as a university and as a community that we have with the partnership and good will of the Lang family.”
And to truly honour Stu Lang, the address for the pavilion will be 15 Lang Way. Lang wore jersey 15 during his playing career with the Edmonton Eskimos, a career that saw him part of five Grey Cup championship-winning teams.
Lang thanked several people during the ceremony, including Kyle Walters, the current general manager of the Winnipeg Blue Bombers who was head coach of the Gryphons when Lang arrived on campus shortly before the training camp for the 2009 season and was given the position of receivers coach by Walters.
Lang became head coach the following season after Walters left the program to join the Blue Bombers’ coaching staff.
“If it weren’t for Kyle taking a risk, we would not be here today,” Lang said.
Improvements since that day include artificial turf on the field, a large video scoreboard, new playing equipment for the players, new equipment for use during training and a larger weight room facility at the stadium. The Lang family has also made generous donations to other areas of the university including scholarships to promote humanitarian research.
“We are incredibly grateful for all the Lang family has done for the University of Guelph including their life-changing gifts to our students,” Vaccarino said.