Dale Sands returns to the role of Jr. Gaels head coach and Director of football operations. During his nine years with the organization he moved from assistant coach with both the junior and senior teams before taking on a head coaching role for the past six years. He also served as running back coach and offensive assistant at Frontenac Secondary School for five years leading teams to KASSAA and OFSSAA Championships.

Coach Sands worked as an offensive and is currently a defensive assistant on the Queen’s Gaels coaching staff. And in 2019 he received the Berk Brean Award for the High School Coach of the Year and the Sports Builder Award from the Kiwanis Club of Kingston. His tireless work ethic and dedication to his players and coaches are invaluable assets to our organization. Away from the field you will find your coach hanging from a tree as the owner of Woodfellas Tree Care or with is his family — Shawna, Ty, Mia and grandchildren Beckett and Maci.

 

 

Travis Dezan hails from London, Ontario and is an offensive assistant with Queen’s Gaels Football. Coach Dezan brings 10 years coaching experience to the field. He is always improving as a coach. He is relatable, consistent in his message and believes players should follow their ABC’s: A - Accountability, B - Belief in themselves and C - Character (their high values of being reliable and respectable.) As a head coach, of the Jr. Gaels U16 team, he sees first-hand that the impact of the pandemic has put most athletes years behind, both mentally and physically.

Coach Dezan was named one of the TVRA Coaches of the Year in 2017 and, as Coach Snyder says, he was a member of the coaching staff that won the Frank Tindall National Coaching Staff of the Year award in 2021. “Football gave me life,” says Dezan. “It’s the most diverse sport. There is a spot for everyone.”

Coach Dezan looks up to his first football coaches, turned coaching colleagues, Todd MacKay and JT Tsui and to Steve Snyder for the opportunities he provided since I was a high school recruit. Dezan wants to lead by example, like Lebron James: a champion that takes care of his body, great family man, does a lot for his community. He wants to develop into a coordinator (recruiting, offensive or special teams), and ultimately become a head coach in USports, all while exploring new things and places with his growing family — fiancé Kristin, daughter Layla and dog Cash.

 

 

Nick Liberatore, a recent graduate and #1 kicker of Queen’s Football, calls Dartmouth, Nova Scotia home. Coach Liberatore, looks up to his own coach Steve Snyder, saying “young coaches should have a growth mindset — be open to criticism and feedback on how to develop and grow.” Liberator believes that sports videos on social media distract players from understanding the process and hard work required to be successful. “Players should arrive at the field being more motivated to play than their coaches,” he added.

Though his first love was soccer, his friendships were most important to him, and he decided to try kicking some footballs so he could play with them. Former soccer players often make the best football kickers. He also enjoyed hockey and track and field growing up and being on the lake in a canoe. In his ‘spare time’ you will find him volunteering, playing guitar or skateboarding. Coach Liberatore was named a team captain by his teammates and can be found eating chicken and spinach before a game. Liberatore adds “I believe God has a plan for me and I am always trying to serve others and become the best version of myself!”

 

Thompson McCallum is a graduate of Queen’s and the Gaels football program. This returning Jr. Gaels coach enjoys his ability to relate to young players and instilling in them his passion for the game. He says, “The importance of the ‘team’ is unlike any other sport. Football is the ultimate team game.” But notes how hard it’s been for young players to return to sports after the time lost to Covid-19.

Coach McCallum’s also enjoyed hockey growing up. He thanks his father for coaching him in other sports and his brothers for motivating him to choose football. He looks up to his many coaches at every level of his career. Coach McCallum enjoys chicken parm before a game and he has a passion for cooking. McCallum identified playing in the 113th Yates Cup at Richardson Stadium as the highlight of his career and sees himself becoming a full-time university coach in the future.

 

 

Peter Pain, a local product of Kingston, Ontario, graduated life sciences at Queen’s in 1993. This former ‘Golden’ Gaels linebacker (and Frontenac Falcon) wore #36 and helped bring home the 1992 Vanier Cup! Coach Pain describes football as the ultimate team sport, every player has a job to do, everyone’s success depends on their teammates doing their job. Pain was fortunate to find role models in two of his Queen’s coaches Doug Hargreaves and Bob Mulling and adds is fellow Jr. Gaels Coach Brunet has a style much like high school coach Berk Brean did back in the day.

Coach Pain enjoys showing players practical ways to improve. He is passionate about giving young players the best chance to improve and become their best selves. Pain sees connecting with players as super important and always tries to explain the WHY of what we are doing. His advice to young players is to avoid the negative, be careful on social media, trust the process and do the work. 
Off the field Dr. Pain worked as a certified Personal trainer with The Sports Clubs of Canada in Toronto for 4 years while attending the Canadian Memorial Chiropractic College (1997) and has enjoyed the honour of being able to work with many athletes at all levels, including professional football and hockey players, Olympic athletes, provincial and national amateur athletes as well as the Weekend Warrior. Pain discovered CrossFit in 2012 and ranked in the top 50 in the world as a master athlete, he also enjoys skiing, triathlons, working out, health and fitness.

 

 

Alex Vreeken is another Kingston athlete and former Frontenac Falcon. He is an active QB on the Queen’s football roster, who studies kinesiology. Coach Vreeken thanks his own Queen’s Coaches, Snyder, Flaxman and Nesbitt for helping him improve both as a player and a coach. He trusts, that with their guidance, Queen’s football will become Yates Cup champions, Vanier Cup champions and secure his invitation for a CFL training camp.

Coach Vreeken believes consistency of message and his ability to relate to the players are key attributes necessary to become a great coach. He loves the pressure of being a Quarterback and also excelled in basketball and guitar. Veekren won several athlete awards in high school and enjoyed some football time with team Ontario. You will always find him at a local subway before a game.

 

 

 

 

 

Curtis Brown is a returning coach who was a high school defensive tackle and full back in his prime. Brown looks up to his many coaches the football community continues to acknowledge today, including Ken Dearborn, Glenn Foster and Ron Dickey.

Coach Brown likes to work with young players on their techniques and show them their strengths. Brown also enjoys hockey, a good burger, fires, hunting and fishing.

 

 

 

 

Kris McDonald, is a local product and LCVI graduate. He is a long-time alumni of the Queen’s ‘Golden’ Gaels who wore #64 and majored in psychology. Coach McDonald has incredible knowledge of the game; his energy, use of positive reinforcement and constructive criticism motives players to commit to the system. McDonald says, “It takes the best version of oneself to be an athlete.” As a multi-sport athlete himself, McDonald also enjoyed baseball, rugby, rowing, and has practiced martial arts his entire life — fighting competitively, at the national level, in Judo.

Coach McDonald also played some semi-pro football in his younger days. He says, “Football is the ultimate team game where all 12 players must work together for a one successful play.” McDonald is avid outdoorsmen who loves to fish. In addition to his passion for all sports, he enjoys movies, camping and any pregame pasta dish. Wally Buono and Adam Rita get his vote as great coaches and influencers. And of course, Bruce Lee.

 

Rueben Brunet just loves coaching. In addition to football, he also coaches rugby and hockey. And this multi-sport athlete still plays men’s rugby and hockey. Like many student athletes at this level, those Coach Brunet looked up to were teachers. Glen Foster, Paul Smith, Ron Dickey and Gord McLellan were instrumental in helping him find success as a high school student. “I have modelled much of my own teaching career after these gentlemen,” Brunet says. “The way they treated everyone, with kindness and respect, really resonated with me.”

Coach Brunet has developed a calm methodical approach to helping young athletes find success. His strong communication skills are the key to connecting with athletes. Helping players believe in themselves is a cornerstone to coaching. A safe and nurturing environment, where players are not afraid to make mistakes, will often get the best out players. Brunet also points to social media and poor nutrition as barriers to success, not only sport but in life. “I didn’t have a pre-game meal per se, but I likely should have eaten a lot more vegetable,” he added. Away from the game Brunet is a devoted father and has a passion for rebuilding and tinkering with vintage snowmobiles.

 

 

Nikolas Reyes is a returning coach and local OUA wide-receiver who lit up the field at Regiopolis Notre-Dame. Reyes was destined to find a spot in the football ranks with a family always involved in the sport and parents who owned a football team. As a coach he tries to relate to the players on a personal level. He is honest, patient, open minded and believes in ongoing education. One of his best memories of football came in Texas, playing against team USA with the Ontario/Canada Cup teams. This multi-sport athlete also excelled in soccer, basketball, hockey, rugby, volleyball and lacrosse. 

Coach Reyes looks up to his first football coach, former Falcons, Grenadiers and Queen’s Gaels assistant coach Mark Magee, saying, “he believed in me and showed me how far patience can go. “Coach Magee motivated me and helped me overcome the mental hurdles within the sport,” say Reyes. “This allowed me to perform to the best of my ability.” Coach Reyes also enjoys listening to music, playing video games and designing/making clothes for his clothing brand. And still enjoys a chicken caesar wrap and a fruit salad before any big game.

 

 

Nathan Falconi came to Kingston from Palgrave, Ontario. After graduating high school at St. Andrew’s College, he now attends Queen’s, majoring in Health Studies, and wearing #16 as a receiver for Gaels football. As a young coach, Falconi is able to relate to the players in differently than the older coaches. He says, “Knowing each player’s strengths and weaknesses I am able to get under the player’s skin to motivate them to be better.”

Coach Falconi looks up to Benji [Ben Arhen] because he is an older player that has been through the system. When asked why he chose football, Falconi answered, “Football chooses me!” He is a seven-time MVP and TSN All Star who played for both Team Ontario and Team Canada and sees himself becoming Queen’s top receiver in the short- term. This multi-sport athlete also played basketball, rugby and karate. Before a game you will find him playing Madden and eating pasta.

 

 

 

 

Silas Hubert, another current Queen’s Gaels football player, is a defensive lineman from Norwood Ontario. Coach Hubert believes his experience playing football, his ability to bring energy and enthusiasm to practices and games will make him a good coach. He says, “By assisting players to overcome the challenges of paying attention to detail and by increasing their focus, players grow as a student of the game. 

Coach Hubert says, “Football came very naturally as my family had a football background, and it helps being 6’ 5” tall.” He describes two of his past coaches, Joe Joncas and Rick Thompson, as being very influential throughout his playing career. As a multi-sport athlete, Hubert was on a hockey team that won an OMHA championship as well as and OFC championship in football. Coach Hubert enjoys pancakes for breakfast, the outdoors and plans to help the Queen’s Gaels bring the Vanier Cup back to Queen’s.

 

 

Returning Coach Jacob Jefferies is a local product from Holy Cross CSS and is an active member of Queen’s Football. He is a strong linebacker wearing #45, who has recently completed his fourth year of university and will be returning to the field this fall. Coach Jefferies says, “football is a great team sport.” He loves for the physical and competitive aspects of the game and his ability to communicate with players makes him a perfect fit as a coach.

Coach Jefferies looks up to his father, also a Queen’s football alumni and one of his own coaches growing up, who help him improve both as a player and a coach. He takes pride in his high school football years as a three-time KASSAA football champion and MVP, and a Canada top prospect and defensive MVP. In addition to football, Jefferies excelled in hockey, baseball rugby and lacrosse. Whatever the sport, he still enjoys Chicken Parmesan for his pregame meal.

 

 

 

Ben D’Andrea hails from Calgary, Alberta. He has a degree in Phys Ed (2012) and wore #26 for the Queen’s Golden Gaels. Coach D’Andrea has been dedicated to the Queen’s football program most of his life. His dad was a Hall of Fame defensive back at Queen’s and the young D’Andrea grew up looking at those old pictures and watching Vanier Cup Championship highlights. Coach D’Andrea was also four-year starter for Queen’s, securing his spot on the 2009 Queen’s Golden Gaels National Championship team. “It was incredible to contribute to such an amazing team — including a forced fumble with three minutes to go in the National Championship game, to help seal the victory,” he added.

Coach D’Andrea is a multi-sport athlete but he loves the work ethic and toughness required for football, “Once I started, I couldn’t get enough.” When it comes to coaching, he describes himself a teacher first, who has a great understanding of the game and want players to learn overall concepts and strategies, not just individual jobs. If players are motivated we, as coaches, will increase players’ understanding and confidence to be ready to play at the next level. D’Andrea wants to bring another championships to Queen’s by developing many players to the highest levels and creating a culture and atmosphere that will begin success for years to come. Away from the field you might find him somewhere in the woods. “I’m an avid fisherman,” he added. “Algonquin Park and the BC interior are two of my favourite fishing spots.

 

 

 

Eric Johnston attended St. Mary CSS in Brockville and graduated from the Jr. Gaels program before going on to wear #91 for the Queen’s Gaels. He has both broad and specific knowledge of football, due to his own experience on and off the field. “I lead by example, through construction criticism and support,” says Johnston. “I am able to coach the players through any situations they will and have encountered.” Coach Johnston enjoys the team camaraderie of football. He views football as an opportunity to succeed and learn lifelong lessons despite the game’s many challenges, including time commitment and injury, at all age levels.

Coach Johnston also played baseball, basketball and hockey. He enjoys tree farming, hunting , fishing, playing cards, building and anything else life in the country has to offer. Johnston enjoys a big breakfast on game day. Before the game he will eat a half a sub and the other half at half time. “I want to thank all of my past and present coaches who have not only gotten me where I am today but that have also set me up for the success I have achieved in football so far,” added Johnston. “I am grateful for the constant support from my family, especially that of my father, as I continue my football career, and achieve academic success. I am looking forward to what future holds.”

 

Jas Khaira, born in Brampton, is a Commerce student who wears #69 for the Queen’s Gaels. This Jr. Gaels coach says he chose football because it’s different than any other sport. “There are a lot of techniques to learn. We have to practice 100 times more than we play, we watch a lot of film and learn valuable life skills like hard work, responsibility, respect and time management.” As a coach he can relate to players because he played the same level of football and has experienced university football. Khaira also understands the recruiting process for university football and high level coaches have taught him the same system he is now coaching. “I just ‘like to keep it real,” he added.

Coach Khaira believes the greatest challenge most athletes face today is money. With maximum scholarships of only $4,500 a year in Ontario, it doesn’t allow athletes to have the financial aid to be the greatest student athletes possible. Khaira looks up to his own coach, Matt Nesbitt, because of the dedication he puts into football and making his players better people and football players. “He has been able to teach me the technique of the offensive line that allow me to teach others,” add Khaira. Coach Khaira also played football for Team Ontario and hockey. You will find him enjoying some chicken parm before a game and owning his own accounting firm in the future.

Reed Anderson is from Barrie Ontario. He grew up playing for the Huronia Stallions and spent time at St. Mary’s University, Acadia University and Queen’s. In addition to playing football for these institutions he also has a BA degree with a major in geography and minor in history and religion, a Bachelor of Education and is currently working on his Masters in Education. In 2010 he signed with the Montreal Alouettes and then the Edmonton Elks in 2012. He taught in Kazakhstan and Tanzania for eight years prior to settling into his current position as a D-Line coach for the Queen’s Gaels in 2020.  Coach Anderson biggest strength as a coach is being able to relate to his players by simply being who he is. “I wear my heart on my sleeve and I am a very honest person who doesn’t hide who I am because young athletes will see through you if you are trying to be something that you are not,” says Anderson. Coach Anderson looked up to so many of his coaches along the way that there are too many to list, but be assured that his Queen’s co-coaches Tom Flaxman, Ryan Bechmanis and Coach Snyder are among them. His parents and family were also major supporters, teachers and mentors. “They encouraged me to put my own spin on the things I liked,” he added.

Anderson also played hockey, rugby, golf, volleyball, baseball field lacrosse and rock climbing but chose football because of the physicality, and the chess match, that is a football game. Some of his personal achievements include winning an OFSSA bowl game, playing in the 2007 Vanier Cup, travelling to 30 countries, being signed by two CFL teams and earning two university degrees.

 

 

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