track inside the Dennis Fairall FieldhouseThe naming of the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse honours one of the most decorated coaches in the history of Canadian university sport.

Fieldhouse re-named in honour of “legendary” track and field coach

The University of Windsor has renamed its St. Denis Centre fieldhouse as the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse to honour the contributions of one of the most decorated coaches in the history of Canadian university sport.

UWindsor president Alan Wildeman announced the change Thursday during an event celebrating Fairall, who took a long-term medical leave in October 2015.

Among the hundreds of achievements his 30-year Windsor career, Fairall led Lancer teams to 25 Canadian Interuniversity Sport (CIS) championships, 46 Ontario University Athletics (OUA) titles, and has been honoured 65 times as either CIS or OUA coach of the year in track and field or cross country. His Lancer teams have won 22 of the past 25 provincial championships in men’s track and field, and 17 of the past 25 provincial championships in women’s track and field.

“This is a fitting tribute to a man who has had an extraordinary impact on the lives of student athletes and on the University of Windsor,” Dr. Wildeman said. “Dennis is known across the country for his dedication to excellence in track and field, and has been a coach, mentor and friend to all he has worked with. He is a legend.”

Fairall began his coaching career in his hometown of Tillsonburg in 1974 when he founded the Tillsonburg Legion Track Club. He remained the club’s head coach until 1985 when he joined the University of Windsor. Fairall has coached a number of national teams and served as head coach of Team Canada at the 2005 Pan American Junior Athletics Championships held in Windsor. Under his direction, Team Canada earned its highest medal count in the history of the event.

“It is difficult to think of the Windsor Lancers without thinking of Dennis Fairall,” said Lancer director of athletics, Mike Havey. “Dennis is an iconic figure here at the University of Windsor and in the history of Lancer athletics. He has been a model of class, humility and professionalism his entire career and has been someone who has always put the team first. He has mentored generations of student-athletes, coaches and colleagues alike. We have all been made better because of his influence and leadership.” 

Though he has left the coaching staff, Fairall remains a member of the Lancer family and continues to coach Canadian middle distance runner and UWindsor alumna Melissa Bishop, who won a gold medal at the 2015 Pan Am Games and set a new Canadian record in the 800 metres last summer, while also capturing a silver medal at the 2015 IAAF World Championships in Beijing. Last week, Bishop broke her own Canadian record twice in three days, setting a new mark at the Glasgow Indoor Grand Prix on Saturday.

This weekend, the Dennis Fairall Fieldhouse will host the OUA track and field championships and the final regular-season games of Lancer basketball.