Keeping it in the Family: Patrick Donovan Hopes to Pick Up Where His Brother Left Off

What to Expect from Interim Head Coach Pat Donovan and Stingers Football

  • Patrick Donovan is set to take over the Stingers football program. Courtesy Brianna Thicke/Concordia Athletics

When it was announced that former Stingers head football coach Mickey Donovan would be leaving the program to join the Alouettes as Special Teams Coordinator, the choice for his replacement as interim head coach was not clear.

Athletic Director D’Arcy Ryan and his colleagues had originally thought to post a listing for the position, but felt with time constraints and the 2018 season rapidly approaching, to do so would jeopardize the program’s stability, and by extension, its ability to recruit athletes to it.

Instead, they went ahead and named defensive coordinator, assistant head coach, and Mickey Donovan’s brother, Patrick, to step in and occupy the position on an interim basis.

Donovan said he could not be more excited to take on the position. “It’s an honour, and it’s a privilege to be the head coach of my alma mater,” he said.

Mickey is equally excited for Patrick’s promotion. “It’s a great opportunity for him,” he said. “I’m proud of him, and wish him all the best.”

Family Values

Patrick, who took over the program with his brother in 2014, played linebacker for the Stingers from 2002 to 2007. In his time with the program, he’s created an atmosphere of family and love, two values instilled on him and his brother from a very young age.

“My brother and I didn’t come from much,” said Patrick. “But our parents taught us the importance of family and love, and that’s what I try to sell on the kids.”

This notion of family can be seen in the way Donovan carries himself as a leader with the team. You would be hard pressed to find a coach who cares as deeply for his players as Patrick does.

The brothers came to Concordia with the intention of Mickey becoming the head coach. Patrick put family above all else, giving up other opportunities and head coaching jobs in order to remain with the Stingers, and the program they played for together.

What’s Next?

For the most part, things will remain the same with Patrick at the helm. He admits that since he and his brother took over in 2014, it’s been a joint effort, with Mickey being the face of the team and Patrick spearheading things on the backend. Their coaching styles and recruiting plans are similar, so don’t expect any drastic changes this season.

“At the end of the day, we’re brothers and we both come from the same parents, we’re very much the same person,” said Donovan. “He might be better looking, but I got a bigger heart.”

“At the end of the day, we’re brothers and we both come from the same parents, we’re very much the same person. He might be better looking, but I got a bigger heart,“— Patrick Donovan

One thing he hopes to improve on, however, is discipline. His goal is to teach his players that there are consequences to their actions.

“I’m here not to punish the kids, but to teach them life lessons.”

The new head coach plans to continue improving the sports complex. He hopes that one day there will be brand new facilities for not only varsity athletes, but the student body as a whole.

Since joining the program, the Donovans have put over $30,000 into the varsity weight room, with plans in place for a new floor to go in this year. For Patrick, though, these plans falls short of what he feels the athletes deserve. He feels the department could be offering more, and has plans in place that have been researched and laid out which he says are for a later date.

But the main goal for any U Sports football team is to win the Vanier Cup. Patrick wants it just as badly as any other U Sports coach, but he also wants playing football to be a positive time for his team.

“We want to have a good experience,” said Patrick. “That’s the same for all student athletes and you want to have a crowd at home games, to have fun and make memories.”

Attendance numbers at home games are low, to say the least. In a city as big as Montreal, the Stingers aren’t only competing with other major universities, but also professional teams like the Alouettes for attendance. It’s safe to say the market is saturated in terms of sporting events.

His family values are what kept Patrick Donovan at Concordia. Photo Courtesy Brianna Thicke/Concordia Athletics

“We’re in Montreal,” he said. “You have so much more to offer, and we’ve gotta make it inviting for the students.”

Getting to the Vanier Cup might prove to be a challenge for Concordia’s football team, who at the end of this season lost star quarterback and veteran leader, Trenton Miller, to a nasty concussion that would nearly end his playing career. Miller was an integral part of their offense and one of the most productive quarterbacks in the Réseau du sport étudiant du Québec.

To fill his spot under centre, the Stingers are putting their hopes behind California native Adam Vance. Donovan believes he has the potential to be something special, but is he quite ready for the upcoming season, after ending the playoffs last year playing injured?

Regardless of who starts at quarterback, standing in the Stingers way are RSEQ powerhouses Université Laval and Université de Montréal. It’s pretty much a given that if you want any chance at reaching the Vanier Cup, you will have to go through one of those two teams. Concordia hasn’t been beating them as of late, and they play each team twice per season.

“One thing that definitely needs to change in U Sports as a whole are our conferences,” said Donovan. “[We need] to lessen the games against each other. I think it’s better for the fans and it’s better for the players.”

Despite odds being against them, Donovan has hope that they will eventually beat those two juggernauts. He feels his team is more mature than it’s ever been, and that if they can avoid making the little mistakes those two teams are able to capitalize on, they’ll be in business.

“We’re playing with a third of the budget of [Laval and UdeM’s] programs, and I think we’re right there considering what we have for facilities and our budget,” he said.

Here For Now, But Maybe Not Forever

There’s a chance that Patrick won’t be around long enough to make everything he hopes his program can be a reality. While Ryan does view this interim coaching stint as an audition for the permanent position, he’s made it clear they’re still looking elsewhere.

“It’s much more than just the 2018 season,” said Ryan. “It’s the entire student athlete experience.”

“The ideal scenario is to have a committee to look at the candidates, because there are many qualified candidates, and if [Patrick] turns out the be the right one, well then he will come out successful,” he said.

Patrick is aware his spot is not guaranteed but truly believes himself to be the best suited candidate for the position.

“At the end of the day nobody knows this university better than I do,” he said. “No one will work harder than me, and nobody will care more about the school than I do.”

In a preview iteration of this article, the author said that Patrick Donovan declined a job with the Montreal Alouettes, when in fact, he was never offered one. The Link regrets the error.

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