UNB Reds coach hangs up his whistle after 33 years in basketball

Jeff Speedy coached the UNB Reds women's basketball team for 17 years. (James West/UNB Athletics - image credit)
Jeff Speedy coached the UNB Reds women's basketball team for 17 years. (James West/UNB Athletics - image credit)

As he retires after 17 years of coaching UNB Reds women's basketball team, Jeff Speedy won't miss the recruiting trips, bus trips and getting home at 4 a.m.

But he will miss everything else about being a coach.

"I could still do it if I just had to roll into the gym every day and talk to the players and figure out some basketball strategy," he told Information Morning Fredericton.

But after 33 years of coaching, he's tired. He said he has two or three more years left in him, but the perfect opportunity came knocking. He will continue to serve as the university's associate director of athletics.

UNB Media Services
UNB Media Services

"I had to say yes," he said.

Speedy's last regular season game as head coach is on Saturday.

Assistant coach Colleen Daly had Speedy as a coach for the four years she played for the Reds, and has been working with him ever since she came back for her education degree.

She said she is inspired by Speedy's dedication, which she sees in his determination to get better even in his last year of coaching.

"He taught me that it doesn't matter if you are in your first year of your career or your last year, you can always get better and you can always learn something new," Daly told Information Morning Fredericton.

"I am a better person for knowing him."

'The best coach that I've ever had'

Player Grace Wade said she met Speedy when she was 12 years old, and it was that basketball experience that inspired her to want to go to the next level.

"He did much more than draw plays, make substitutions and give motivational talks. Speedy was a teacher and instilled in myself in all of his players values that have shaped me into who I am today," she said.

"Speedy loves to win, but more than that, Speedy loves to better his community, form lasting relationships with his players and to help build strong and capable female leaders. And that is why he is the best coach that I've ever had."

Speedy said what he will miss the most is the people, and the relationship he has with his players.

Philip Drost/CBC News
Philip Drost/CBC News

He said he's won some championships with other teams, but not for UNB. He said Wade and Daly's words reaffirm that he still gained something invaluable.

"Thank God I'm doing something right and having an impact on some young women because I certainly haven't put any banners in the Currie Center," he laughed.

"You could definitely argue, hopefully, helping some people become better students, better players, better people, and their time in our program is probably more important than banners."

He said he's a little scared that he may not be able to coach another Grace Wade or develop that kind of relationship, but he will continue to keep in touch with the many players he has met over the course of his career.

"I've had a pretty rich life, and it's because of people like Colleen and Grace and and many others," he said.