Ian MacMillan, a legendary ODCVI coach who helped generations of athletes reach their potential, ‘really cared about us as athletes,’ says Rob Town.

In 1964, Ian MacMillan was hired as a math teacher at Orillia and District Collegiate Vocational Institute (ODCVI). But few might know, he was really brought to Orillia to become the school’s football coach.

He came as advertised and the ODCVI Blues were Georgian Bay finalists in his first season.

But he soon turned his sights to coaching basketball and track and field, becoming a legendary mentor who turned raw, young students into champions.

His basketball teams won more than 1,100 games during his distinguished career, winning multiple Georgian Bay crowns and Blackball titles.

In addition to coaching hoops, MacMillan helped organize the popular annual Blackball tournament, helped run a basketball camp and was a member of the Barrie and District Referee Association for two years.

His track and field athletes won countless medals at regional and provincial competitions. During one impressive stretch, ODCVI won 11 straight team titles at the Georgian Bay Secondary School Association regional championships. The Blues finished second as a team in the entire province at the Ontario Federation of School Athletic Association (OFSAA) championship among high schools from throughout Ontario.

He also coached cross-country running from 1967 to 1981 and helmed the Orillia Track Club from 1971 to 1988.

Multiple times during those years, he helped convene OFSAA cross-country running and track and field competitions. He also served as convener of the junior track and field development program at Laurentian University in 1972.

In whatever sport he coached, he helped the athletes hone their skills and taught them how to improve. His young athletes won countless medals at whatever competitions they entered.

On top of that, dozens of ODCVI athletes used their time under MacMillan as a springboard to post-secondary scholarships.

One of those athletes was Rob Town — one of Orillia’s most decorated athletes.

He is the only local athlete to ever win five individual OFSAA gold medals. He is the only two-time winner of Orillia’s Athlete of the Year Award.

He was, it could be argued, one of Canada’s premier athletes in the late 1970s and early 1980s, becoming a world-class decathlete who shone on the international stage.

He credits MacMillan for helping him realize his potential.

“He was a master motivator,” Town told The Packet in a 2013 interview. “He was a knowledgeable guy who really cared about us as athletes. He would put former athletes on pedestals and give us something to shoot for.”

Chad Moreau is another — of many — former ODCVI students who point to MacMillan as key influences on their success.

A budding shot put and discus athlete, Moreau began working with the legendary coach and was one of the reasons the family moved from Huntsville to Orillia.

In 1990, his first year at ODCVI, Moreau recorded 25 first-place finishes in either shot put or discus and won silver medals in both disciplines at the OFSAA high school championships.

He went on to win Canadian titles in both sports in a nation-wide Legion competition and was named Orillia’s athlete of the year for 1990.

In 1992, he won gold at OFSAA in both events in the senior competition — an unheard of feat that led to a full scholarship to the University of South Carolina.

He tells anyone who will listen It would not have been possible without his high school coach.

“MacMillan was a real student of the throwing sports,” said Moreau in a 2012 interview with The Packet & Times.

“Without him I never would have been able to accomplish what I did,” said Moreau. “You can be big and strong, but in throwing, it’s all about technique. He was huge in teaching me the sport.”

MacMillan’s work did not go unnoticed.

He earned OFSAA’s prestigious Pete Beach Award in 1996 — the year he retired. The award is presented annually to a teacher-coach who has made a significant contribution to the educational athletic program.

The recipient of this award “exemplifies the values of fair play and good sportsmanship while promoting enjoyment, personal growth and educational achievement through school sport.”

He was also recognized with the Government of Canada Celebration ‘88 Medal.

In addition, the Ian MacMillan Scholarship, in his honour, is still handed out annually at ODCVI’s successor, Orillia Secondary School.

MacMillan will be officially inducted at this year’s Orillia Sports Hall of Fame Gala, which will be held May 4 at Hawk Ridge Golf and Country Club.


Original Article By: Dave Dawson
Site: Orillia Matters
Date: May 2, 2024
Link to Original: Link to Orillia Matters
Photo: Supplied Photos / Orillia Matters