The Province

DeJulius unas­sum­ing type of coach

high school: Fifty years of stu­dents learned life lessons from DJ on the grid­iron

- Kent Gilchrist

Glen Jack­son says he shouldn’t, but half­way through his 69th year, Bob DeJulius is re­tir­ing.

Even though he still looks the same as he did in 1961 when he started his jour­ney help­ing to mould bright-eyed, naive kids through coach­ing them in foot­ball, he says he is ready to put his feet up. Af­ter all, his four chil­dren have given he and his wife 13 grand chil­dren.

He will va­cate his un­pre­ten­tious prin­ci­pal’s of­fice at Holy Cross High School in North Sur­rey at the end of the month hav­ing been the 28-yearold Catholic school’s found­ing prin­ci­pal. There will be a gala on June 25 where he will be feted in a grand way, but on Thurs­day alumni or­ga­nized a sep­a­rate fundrais­ing bur­sary bash that will be of­fered in his name. About 300 at­tended.

This is a well-liked gen­tle­man who has loved coach­ing foot­ball and teach­ing kids. He was of­fer­ing his wis­dom to a class Wed­nes­day and coached the 2009 Cru­saders of­fen­sive line­men, five decades af­ter he be­gan tak­ing on his lit­tle brother’s pee­wee team in when the pre­vi­ous coach aban­doned it.

“We got lucky and won it [the league ti­tle],” “DJ” said the other day. He was hooked.

He coached at Notre Dame with Al Blesch (1961-62) and Vancouver Col­lege (twice) with Cal Mur­phy be­gin­ning in 1963 when he was still go­ing to UBC and then again in the ’80s as head coach af­ter he was let go at SFU. He coached Notre Dame coach and vice prin­ci­pal Ge­orge Oswald and against him. “Ge­orge [quar­ter­back] nearly beat us [Vancouver Col­lege] sin­gle-hand­edly in the cham­pi­onship. He had us down 19-0. I think we won 20-19.”

Much of DeJulius’s no­to­ri­ety, how­ever, was earned at SFU where he was, an as­sis­tant to Lorne Davies, co-head coach with Pokey Allen and then head coach. He re­cruited such lu­mi­nar­ies as Lui Pas­saglia, fa­bled line­backer Glen Jack­son as well as other CFL greats such as Nick Bas­taja, Dan Fer­rone, Tom Kud­aba, Nel­son Martin, Lyall Woz­ne­sen­sky and Randy Gra­ham.

The Clans­men beat Univer­sity of Montana and Ne­vada at Reno the same sea­son. In 1976, they had five play­ers se­lected in the first round of the CFL’s Cana­dian draft. That was af­ter the B.C. Lions had made Jack­son one of their two ter­ri­to­rial pro­tec­tions. Pas­saglia was the fifth pick.

Be­sides be­ing a ter­rific coach, he was a good re­cruiter — it helped that SFU of­fered schol­ar­ships — and helped get play­ers off­sea­son em­ploy­ment. PNE boss Mario Car­avetta was DeJulius’s un­cle and re­source for of­fer­ing SFU play­ers jobs around the fair­grounds. The cov­eted ones were as ush­ers at Vancouver Canucks games when they played in the Pa­cific Coli­seum.

That job cre­ation car­ried over. The Cru­saders first head coach was for­mer Clans­men Frank Roberto and Jack­son has been a teacher and as­sis­tant coach there for eons. DeJulius coached in ’88 and lost the dou­ble-A ti­tle in triple over­time to St. Thomas More. Then he be­came an as­sis­tant to Ron Smeltzer (1991), Chris Blesch and Ken Buchan. He proudly wears a triple-A cham­pi­onship ring won in ’07 with Buchan as head coach. Big ego isn’t part of his vo­cab­u­lary.

“Bob is a fa­natic when it comes to foot­ball,” said Jack­son, who only had him as a coach his first year at SFU when he played tight end be­cause DJ coached of­fence. Jack­son was switched to line­backer as a sopho­more. “He has an amaz­ing mem­ory; re­mem­bers ev­ery game, ev­ery year, ev­ery player.”

Pas­saglia spent a lot more time with him be­cause he was a quar­ter­back/re­ceiver/punter/kicker. “But ev­ery time they had a quar­ter­back who could throw, I went to re­ceiver.”

Lions vice-pres­i­dent of busi­ness de­vel­op­ment Ge­orge Chayka, who was a run­ning back for DJ back in the day, said he still re­cites a speech he heard from DeJulius. “My staff hears it at least once a year.”

By his rec­ol­lec­tion, Chayka heard it as a life les­son af­ter a tough loss. “It was to never as­sume. Be­cause when you as­sume some­thing you make an ‘ass out of u and me.’”

There are lit­er­ally hun­dreds of kids who grew up to be adults who have sim­i­lar things they learned lis­ten­ing to DeJulius.

 ?? Ian Smith — PNG ?? Re­tir­ing high school coach Bob DeJulius shows off some hard­ware at Holy Cross in Sur­rey.
Ian Smith — PNG Re­tir­ing high school coach Bob DeJulius shows off some hard­ware at Holy Cross in Sur­rey.
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