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Garth Gittens fired from head coach position

By: Sabrina Bedford

Since Gittens began coaching in '96, the Algonquin Thunder women's varsity soccer team has been the second most successful sports team at Algonquin.

Since Gittens began coaching in ’96, the Algonquin Thunder women’s varsity soccer team has been the second most successful sports team at Algonquin.

Garth Gittens, head coach of the women’s soccer team, was relieved of his duties after 17 years at the college, the Algonquin Times has learned.

Gittens met with Ron Port, administrator of athletic operations, early Dec. 3 where he learned the department has decided to take the team in a different direction – without him as coach.

The meeting lasted nine minutes.

In an email, Port described the decision as mostly personal, adding “it is a matter between Garth and I. [There was] a discrepancy in how things were handled between me – the athletic director responsible for the program – and the coach.”

He did not specify what this discrepancy was.

In his time as head coach, Gittens led his teams to nine championship medals (one gold, six silver and two bronze), and has never placed below second in the regular season. He also recently won east region coach of the year for the 2011-2012 season.

He said that after 17 years at Algonquin, he is in a state of shock and disbelief.

“He [Port] said they want to take the program in another direction,” said Gittens. “I asked what that meant but was not given any answer.”

When he asked Port for a full written explanation in the form of an email, he was told there would be no email and no further reason given.

“It really is all about moving in a new direction after 17 years,” said Port. “I thanked him for his contributions and congratulated him on both his personal successes as well as the teams over this period.”

Gittens remains unclear of the motivation behind the decision.

“I push hard to make sure the female student athletes at the college in the soccer program are treated equal as the men’s programs,” said Gittens, adding this is something he feels is the right thing to do.

The news of Gittens’ firing prompted emotional responses from his former players as well as many community members around the country.

Chelsea McLean, former captain of the women’s soccer team and Algonquin graduate, has played soccer since the age of five. For the last four years, she played for Gittens on the varsity team and said it was his commitment both on and off the field that set him apart.

“Garth surpasses his duties as a head coach,” she said in an email to college administration. “He doesn’t have to open his home on numerous occasions for team dinners, but he does. He isn’t obliged to know my family and my teammate’s families all by name, but he does, and he never hesitates to talk to them and ask how they are all doing. … It is all these things and more, that make Garth the best coach I have ever had or known.”

Jack Doyle, general manager of the Algonquin Students’ Association, emailed Gittens the afternoon of Dec. 6 advising him the decision is final, adding he supports Port’s decision to take the team in another direction. Port will begin searching for a different coach in the new year.


  • Stephanie

    Ron owes it Garth for an explanation. How do you justify 17 years of success without so much as to offer more of an explanation. Very unprofessional. If there was a discrepency they he should of tried to work closer with eachother to settle the matter.

  • Horace Alexis

    This is upsetting, unacceptable,and demanding of a rational explanation. I know of the efforts made by Garth to be professional,well up to date in coaching goals, but his record speaks to his abilities. Ron Port,has to be accountable for a full explanation to these strange actions, basic human rights point to an appeal as soon as possible. H.C. Alexis M.D

  • John Luimes

    After 17 years and such a high success rate, I am surprised Garth was let go in this manner. There must be some way to bring Ron and Garth together and mediate a solution, for the sake of the women’s soccer program. I have known Garth for 7 or 8 years and have witnessed his passion and commitment to the Algonquin Team. The team will not be the same without him and I am afraid the rebuilding involved with a new coach may take years.

  • Algonquin Alumni

    This is outrageous!

    “He [Port] said they want to take the program in another direction,”

    I didn’t know that the head of a sports department would classify losing as desirable direction. It is the only reasonable assumption after such a successful coaching record with the college soccer program.

    Mr. Port needs to provide a clear reason to Coach Gittens for relieving his service on such notice – it is only professional.

    This is truly unfortunate, hearing this news. I am an Algonquin Alumni that participated in sports programs at the college and knew Coach Gittens personally (having never played for him). He was supportive of all the sports programs and would frequent games of other Algonquin sports teams.

    This saddens me to hear of the lack of professionalism from Ron Port (should this information be accurate).

    I hope Coach Gittens finds a push to resolve this issue as he is surely deserving of a rightful clarification on the matter.

    My best regards to Coach Gittens, and my condolences to the Algonquin Women’s Soccer program for losing such an asset.

  • R Smith

    It appears that Mr. Port has failed to separate the running a team from what he calls ‘personal’. Shame. And shame on the larger organization if it fails to intervene !

  • random

    And how does that make other poeple feel in regards to employment at Algonquin college? Suppose one was considering applying for a position to work at the college, having a situation like this doesnt exactly comfort new applicants. Is this the way you treat your employees after 17 years of amazing service? My application will be taken else where as this sets a terrible example and standard for job security.

    • Phil Gaudreau

      Hi Random,

      Thanks for your comment. Mr. Gittens was not an employee of the College. He had a gentleman’s agreement with the Algonquin Students’ Association.

  • Jeff Milbury

    Very saddened to read this. Garth is one of the most generous and caring person I know. He loves his program at the school and is always thinking of ways to help develop the young women. Doesn’t seem to make any sense. Shame on Mr. Port

  • Angela

    Garth is the best coach I ever had and I’ve had a large number. It has been 12 years since he was my coach and he has been a part of my life along the way. When I got married he was like the concerned father who wants to make sure that guy is good enough for his girl. He has created a friendship with my husband over the years, been there to meet my children, and given my son his first Adidas runners!

    He has a heart of gold and he always puts everything he has into what he does. He is a phenomenal coach! He can motivate you like no other. He can build you up to succeed. He was able to speak very instrumentally into my life and because of the respect I had for him his advice and direction was such a great help to me. He’s dedication to women’s soccer at Algonquin is why they have had so many successful seasons. Garth has always tried to get the women’s soccer team to a level playing field as the men’s teams at Algonquin and I guess 12 years later Ron is still in the same place as he was back them! Men’s teams are first in his books and always will be.

    It was the same attitude towards the women’s volleyball team back then as well. From the sounds of this it probably hasn’t changed either.

    Again I will say that Garth is the best coach and mentor I’ve ever had. Thank you Garth and keep your head up!

  • Diarmuid O'Connor (Head Coach, Centennial College)

    I have had the pleasure of coaching against Garth for the past 6 years. His players were not only the best coached teams but the way he conducted himself before, during and after each game was an example in how to behave on a sporting field. I have read some great comments from those that worked for or were coached by him and wanted to add some from one who wanted to beat him. His coaching and behaviour were simply class and an example on how best to represent ones institution and the coaching profession.

  • Denis Levesque

    I am rally saddened to learn the news tonight, Garth has been an extraordinary coach and an inspiration to many coaches in the region. As a coach from the Dragon Soccer Association, I have benefited from knowing Garth in many ways. His desire to inspire the best in his team has led him to coach my team, with a few of his players, a few years back. The session has been instrumental in increasing communication between the girls on the field which has made the difference in many ways : a 3rd place team winning the championship, but more importantly, great learnings and great fun.

    Garth, keep your chin up, it seems that you have outgrown the Algonquin’s administration vision which means another team will benefit from who you are, your passion for the game and your passion to make a difference in today’s youth. It’s too bad for the Algonquin’s soccer program.

  • John Luimes

    With the location programmed into the GPS, we confidently drove into an unfamiliar part of town for an away game. We got off the highway as the computerized GPS voice instructed us. Appearing to be only minutes from our destination, my daughter excitedly got her gear together. Suddenly, the GPS interrupted, “GO ANOTHER DIRECTION.” Not knowing what to do, I pulled the car over as my daughter asked, “What does that mean?” I scratched my head, “I have NO IDEA.”

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