Darwin Semotiuk arrived in London in 1971 with plans to teach at Western for a couple of years, coach a little football and then head back to his home province of Alberta.
That was 43 years ago, and he’s still here, with no plans of going anywhere.
But on June 17, the life of the long-time football coach, athletic director and professor at Western University will change. The occasion will be the kinesiology convocation.
“The president reads off a nice citation, gives you a hand shake and then says: ‘Go away. ‘Thank you. You are now a professor emeritus,’” Semotiuk said this week with a smile.
For anyone who knows Semotiuk, he won’t “go away.” He’s not that type. He even suggested he may continue doing one class a year. And maybe keep taking Western students to Cuba each year as he has done for the past six. Maybe even teach an international sports class.
While the end of June marks his official end of full-time work at Western, he will have the purple “W” in his review forever. “Stangs” has been his licence plate for years.
He lives and breathes Western and everything it embodies. And the transplanted Edmontonian, along with his wife, Mary, have put the City of London on an equal playing field with the university.
He gives back to the city in spades. Sitting on the YMCA board, fund-raising for Ronald McDonald House and the diabetes association, critical involvement in getting the 2001 Canada Games to London and one of three tri-chairs for the 2010 Special Olympics Summer Games in London are just a few his non-Western gigs.
But the former London sports person of the year and a natural for the London Sports Hall of Fame in the upcoming years made his name — at least publically — in sports.
A two-sport star — football and basketball — at the University of Alberta, he went to Ohio State University to earn his doctorate in sports management.
With the help of his Buckeye roomie John Nash, he took a teaching/coaching position at Western serving as an assistant to former CFL quarterback Frank Cosentino.
He then took over from Cosentino four years later, and stayed as head coach for eight more years. Next, he became athletic director for close to 20 years before returning to full-time teaching. Teaching was a constant for all 43 years.
“I’ve been really privileged to have the opportunity to teach activities as well as theory courses, to coach, to advise graduate students, to do administration and to work on my own research,” he saod. “There are very few situations where you have that opportunity.
“Fortunately, I was able to do all that stuff.”