Inside Acadia Athletics: True Axemen Darren Burns
Burns Entering his 14th Season at the Helm of the Axemen
story courtesy of thechronicleherald.ca by Cameron Davidson
Entering into his 14th season at the helm of the Axemen Hockey squad, head coach Darren Burns has led the Axemen to 10 straight playoff appearances, and to two AUS (Atlantic University Sport) Championships, one in 2005/06 and another this past season. Burns has been at Acadia since 1990, though was an assistant coach elsewhere for four years while living in the Annapolis Valley. Burns also played his university hockey as an Axemen from 1990-1995, winning a CIS (Canadian Interuniversity Sport) National Championship in 1992-93. Burns added another National Championship as an assistant coach with the Axemen in 1995-96.
Burns, now age 44, was initially drawn to Acadia as a player to pursue a teaching career. “I wanted to go where hockey was still important and was a big part of the community and school. A place that followed hockey like a junior team, and Acadia definitely had that, and still does,” he said.
Last year’s AUS Championship was massive for both Axemen Hockey and the amazing local fans. “It was important for the program to win the AUS Championship for sure. It was a great experience. It is something that we cannot take for granted and we need to strive for higher achievements. The thing that meant the most to me was seeing the sense of accomplishment for the players and seeing how excited the community was. Anytime something good happens for Acadia and the surrounding area, I am happy.”
With respect to the diehard Axemen Hockey fan base, Burns adds, “It is vital for our program to have the support it does. There is no hockey team in the CIS that gets the support our players and team does. It’s not even describable how important it is. It’s very motivating for me as a coach and for the players.”
Looking ahead to the upcoming season, Burns talked about what the recruiting front was coming into this year. “Our recruiting for this season is like every other; our players need to be great people who realize they are leaders on campus and in the community and want to strive for excellence.” As for what fans should expect to see in 2014/15, “I would expect fans are going to see a committed team who skates well, moves the puck well, and does not get outworked. This is an expectation of our program. [The AUS] will be a very tough league this year.”
Burns was also a key cog in the creation of the Acadia Minor Hockey Association and plays a big role in the development of young local players. “My advice for youth hockey players is follow your dreams wherever they may lead you in hockey. It’s a fantastic game and don’t get down [on yourself] if you don’t make a team that you want to early in your playing days. I see so many kids continue to work hard and get better. Coaching young kids is a passion of mine and it is great to see kids at a young age improve. Lastly, be proud to be from the Valley and realize that our players can compete with any in this province.”
A true Axemen through and through, Burns is extremely comfortable in the community. “What makes Acadia so comfortable to my family and I is the sense of community. The energy living in this university town is exceptional. It is a terrific place to raise a family and being so close to the campus and the sports teams, there is never a shortage of role models for our children. Acadia University is second to none in what a university should be; it reaches out much further than in the classroom.”
Burns has also coached as an assistant with Team Canada in the 2006 World University Games, capturing Gold in Torino, Italy. “My coaching career can be summed up so far as extremely rewarding. This is a great level to coach and having the chance to do so while representing Acadia is something that I do not take for granted.”
“I would like to thank the Annapolis Valley for their support of the Axemen Program. People have no idea how the fan support is instrumental in the recruiting process for our team. When we bring a prospective player into visit they get to see first hand how much the team means on campus and in the community. We truly appreciate it.”
Be sure to come out and support Burns and your hockey Axemen this season in the newly renovated Andrew H. McCain Arena. Axemen pride has no equal.