St. Thomas University announced earlier this month that Darren Cann is stepping down as men’s soccer head coach after 12 years.
“I wanted to spend more time with my family, and I felt it was time for a change,” said Cann. “I felt I had taken STU as far as I could have. Coaching takes a lot of time, and being a full-time city transit driver, I’m very limited with my time.”
Cann began playing soccer around the age of six in his hometown of Torquay, England.
He was recruited by his local professional club, Torquay United, when he was 14. At 16, he was offered a two-year apprenticeship, and he took a one-year pro contract after.
Cann went on to appear in FA Cup, League Cup (now Capital One Cup) and Football League games over six years with Torquay United.
“I left Torquay United at the age of 19 and embarked on a successful semi-pro career, winning many leagues and cup competitions,” he said. “I played for 13 non-league semi-pro club teams, and I was selected to represent Devon County [in England] 18 times.”
Cann moved to Canada with his family in 2001, two years before he started coaching at STU.
“I wanted to still be involved in the game,” he said. “Coming from England, it’s part of your DNA, and that’s why I wanted to think beyond playing.”
Cann said he believes in teamwork, hard work and honesty.
“I wanted to pass on my experience to fellow players so they could learn from me and become better players of the game and better people in the world,” he said.
Cann said it is touching to have been respected and appreciated by athletes and the university alike.
“Seeing them graduate and start careers, get married and have families is rewarding and satisfying,” said Cann. “So many stay in touch to this day. I frequently get messages and visits from past athletes who I consider friends.”
Cann led the Tommie to seven ACAA playoff tournaments and three of his players were named ACAA player of the year.
Cann was named ACAA coach of the year in 2008, which he said was a highlight of his career.
“When your fellow coaches recognize the job you do, it’s a great honour not only for the coach, but also for the athletes,” he said.
Cann said he feels blessed to have worked with STU’s fantastic staff and athletes.
“I’ve learned a lot about STU and how important a university is to the community. As a coach at a small school, it wasn’t always going to be a successful year on the pitch, and every year provided a challenge.”
Cann will be replaced by John-Ryan Morrison, who played for STU in 2003.