Neil Langevin spent his childhood in Sparwood and attended Sparwood Secondary School. There, with the help of his English teacher, Jim Vallance, he found the sport of rugby. Little did he know at the time he was finding more than just a sport – he was finding a coaching career.
“He actually saw me play basketball in Grade 10 and he told me I wasn’t so good at basketball but he had a sport he thought I would like. He was right on both counts,” Langevin said of Vallance.
After high school, Langevin went to Lethbridge for university. There he started the women’s university team and started competing against the larger universities in the area.
“We kind of started that group up and coached it for 11 years, culminating in – we had three years in a row that we won a national title and six years in a row that we won the Canada West.”
Recently, Langevin was inducted into the Lethbridge Sports Hall of Fame in recognition of his coaching career.
“It’s recognition of not just my efforts but the efforts of a large group. The team, we have been lucky enough to be inducted into the Hall of Fame already as a team, and as well as the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame last year.”
Langevin was with the University of Lethbridge Horns women’s rugby program since its inception in 2000. Throughout his time with the Horns, the team garnered a reputation as the country’s premier rugby program. His longest winning streak was 22 games in a row. He also took Canada’s National Women’s team to a fourth place finish at the 2006 World Cup.
Langevin says some of Vallance’s philosophies and mottos have stayed with him throughout his career.
“When I started in Grade 10, it was interesting to see Jim Vallance’s sayings used and his philosophy,” he said. “His style of play, that stayed with me forever. Lots about defence and about pressure all of the time. There is a phrase he use to say – ‘you need to turn pressure into points’.”
It seems that’s exactly what Langevin did – pressure into points, and ultimately into the Hall of Fame.