1948 – 2008
Year of Induction: 2017
Denis Landry’s contributions to the sport began in his native northern Ontario as a member of a winning OFSAA cross-country team. After high school in Iroquois Falls, he graduated from the University of Windsor (BA – 74). He returned to North Bay to teach; it was there that his lifelong career in coaching and administration began and moved from strength to strength.
His high school distance program in North Bay developed athletes who went on to compete with distinction nationally and internationally. The great University of Ottawa cross-country teams of the 1980’s were built on a core of those same athletes: they won national university championships as individuals for six consecutive years (1985-1990) and as a team – with Denis as Coach of the Year – on three occasions (1986, 1987 and 1990).
While still in North Bay, Denis played key roles in staging the numerous major competitions that northern Ontario attracted, from national cross-country to the inaugural Pan-American Junior Athletics Championships. He was a member of the OTFA (now AO) Board from 1974 to 1983, with the last four years as president.
Such accomplishment could not fail to be noticed elsewhere. In 1983, Denis became Coaching Development Manager for the CTFA (now Athletics Canada) and served in that role until 1988. This was at a time when Canadian sport had just recognized the need to move away from “kitchen table administration” if international success was to be achieved. The reforms were major, and required all of Denis’ clear vision as an educator and gentle skill as a facilitator in order to implement the coaching programs whose legacy the sport still benefits from today.
He then returned to education, earning an M. Ed (UO – 92) and serving in Ottawa schools as teacher, vice-principal and principal until 2006. He also rejoined the Athletics Ontario Board as vice-president.
Denis’ deep knowledge of the sport and its context were clear. But his greatest accomplishment perhaps lies in what he could inspire in others. As a great listener, his “way” was to wait until everyone had their say. He would then respond with insight and suggestions for action to which everyone felt they had contributed and of which they felt a part. It was the nature of the man that the results were often concerted, powerful and enduring.