CALGARY, AB – Ken Babey, who has become as synonymous with the SAIT Trojans as the iconic logo itself, is leaving the school he’s dedicated nearly three decades of his life to.
|Babey served as the SAIT Trojans' bench boss for the past 27 years
Babey will cap a career at SAIT that not only has seen him coach the men’s hockey team for the past 27 years, but also act as the Athletic Department’s Athletic Director since 1997. A desire to pursue other interests, and to go out on on top, has been given as reasons for his decision to step down.
“It’s been on our minds for awhile now as to what we’re going to do in the next few years,” said Babey, referring to him and his wife, Debie. “It’s the right time for change for us, for me, and I think maybe there are some opportunities out there that I haven’t looked at. Leaving SAIT, it gives me an opportunity to do that. It’s a hard decision because SAIT’s been a great part of my life and, next to my family, the closest thing to my heart. . . Time’s gone by fast, and I think that’s a good measure of how much fun it’s been, and how lucky I’ve been to be a part of SAIT, to have been its Athletic Director, and to have been the SAIT Trojans men’s hockey coach.”
Babey became head coach of the Trojans in 1987 after serving the previous season with the team as an assistant coach.
He leaves the Trojans as Canadian post-secondary hockey’s winningest coach – earning the ‘W’ in 534 of 849 combined regular season and playoff games coached for an outstanding career winning percentage of .629.
He won the ACAC title a record nine times - his last coming this past season. On the national stage, Babey won the now-defunct Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association (CCAA) title once (1999-00), and silver twice (1991-92 and 1996-97)
Other records include most years spent as an ACAC head coach (27), most ACAC first-place finishes (10), most consecutive ACAC first-place finishes (seven), most ACAC Coach of the Year awards (seven), most consecutive ACAC playoff series victories (nine) and most consecutive ACAC league championships (four).
In his 27 years behind the bench, Babey missed the playoffs just four times – the last coming in the 1993-94 season. Since then, the Trojans reached the post-season in 20 consecutive seasons and never finished worse than third place.
His success behind the bench was not limited to SAIT, but internationally as well. Babey led Canada’s under-18 team to gold at the Four Nations Cup in 2000, and was an assistant coach with the Canadian men’s national team who won gold at the Slovakia Cup in 2003. He also served as a guest coach with the Canadian national team from 1990 to 1998.
His work with Hockey Canada will continue this July when he will act as a presenter and group leader at a High Performance II coaching seminar that will be attended by Canada’s elite hockey coaches.
His talents behind the bench also led him to coach with Japan’s national junior team in 1996, and Denmark’s men’s national and national junior teams (2007 and 2008) – winning gold with the junior team at the 2007 IIHF B Pool World Jr. Championship.
Despite all the accolades, all the success, all the records, Babey chooses to go another route when asked to talk about what he was most proud of from his days on the ice.
“The championships were awesome, and the battles and competition were great,” said Babey. “But, what really made me proud to be a Trojan coach was that a lot of these guys went on to be successful in their careers and good family men who give back to the community. More did well than didn’t and you’d like to feel like our program had a small piece in their development.”
Off the ice, Babey also spent time at SAIT as an instructor, academic chair, and interim Dean of the Recreation Facility Maintenance (RFM) program before becoming the school’s latest Athletic Director in 1997.
“We were able to develop the Trojan brand in terms of our look, in terms of our image and in terms of what it means to be a Trojan; the Trojan Pillars (Athletic Excellence, Academic Success, Community Citizenship). I think that’s probably one of the best things we’ve done as an organization during my time period. . . Most importantly, it’s been about the great people and some of the great student athletes who have come through here. That’s something I’m really going to miss.”
Babey has been trying his best to convince friends and family not to be sad about his decision to step down, but to be excited for him and the challenge that lies ahead. That said, he admits turning in his coach’s whistle and the numerous Trojan-emblazoned golf shirts, ball caps, t-shirts and jackets that have become a staple of his wardrobe will be difficult.
“It’s going to be really hard, but I think that’s something you learn in life; that you gotta know when to hold them, when to fold them and when to walk away,” he said, smiling. “I think it’s time now.”