CMC Athletic Dep’t – Faces & Voices from the past

Garry Plant

MCpl Garry Plant in his early days as a PERI on his 6A Course at CFSPER – 1972.

e-veritas: At which Military College(s) did you serve?

Garry Plant: I served as a Physical Education Recreation Instructor at RMC from 1980-1983 initially as a Sergeant, later as a Warrant Officer. I served at Royal Roads Military College from 1990 until it closed, initially as a Master Warrant Officer and later as a Chief Warrant Officer.

e-veritas: What was your primary duty?

Garry Plant: Initially, my primary duty at RMC hands on was physical education instruction and supervision of the cadets. I later worked in the administration and logistics of the varsity sports with Captain Neil Hubbard. At RRMC, my primary duty was instruction. Everybody on the athletic staff participated in facilities management, whether it was ensuring the fields were set up properly or working in the arena.

e-veritas: Did you also coach or be involved with a varsity team? Explain.

Garry Plant: I coached the varsity wrestling and running teams. In the winter term, I coached the varsity biathlon and cross country ski teams. Most weekends, I travelled with the varsity teams which competed in marathons, X country ski championships, biathlon competitions etc. The  ATH ADMO arranged transportation and accommodations at university dorm, a military base or in a hotel.

e-veritas: How did you become a PERI?

Garry Plant: I initially enlisted in the provost corps as a military policeman. I was attracted to the PERI trade because had extensive experience with the YMCA prior to joining the military. I liked sports and competed in a large number of sports. My favourite sports for competition include gymnastics and martial arts.

e-veritas: What do you consider the high-light of serving at the Military College?

Garry Plant: The Military Colleges were awesome places to work from an instructor’s Point of View. I enjoyed the hand on instruction. The enthusiasm of the cadets and the dedication and expertise of fellow staff was the highlight for me. The cadets make great students because they are not reluctant to try things. I liked teaching at the military colleges. I would recommend the military college(s) to high school students today. The military colleges produced great young officers.

e-veritas: What are you doing these days?

Garry Plant: Since retiring from the Canadian Forces in 1997, I have been enjoying myself. My wife Claire and I live in beautiful Kamloops British Columbia. To stay fit, we do a lot of X-Country skiing in the winter and white water kayaking when the ice leaves the rivers.

e-veritas: you mentioned coaching the biathlon team. Could you explain this?

Garry Plant: biathlon is the winter sport that combines cross-country skiing and rifle shooting. Another popular variant is summer biathlon, which combines cross-country running with rifle shooting. 9391 Paul Mansbridge (RRMC RMC 1972) was instrumental in getting biathlon started at RMC. Since I was already coaching the RMC X-Country skiing and running teams, Paul and I coached the biathlon team. We were assisted by the drill staff, who acted as the rifle coaches. The RMC biathlon team competed against other military teams, for example Valcartier, and Petawawa.

e-veritas: Did you have a role when cadets ran into difficulties?

Garry Plant: I would say that the PERIs had a role in cadet supervision and coached to attain the desired discipline. All the PE staff physically participated in all facets of their scheduled instruction and as well their varsity teams. Being fit was a necessity to meet the challenge in developing a skilled and strong team. Working at the colleges demanded 10-12 hour days as well as weekends with varsity and related collage activities. The staff during my college career embraced these terms in a positive and professional manner. I am proud to have been one of the PERI members to have had this opportunity to serve at RMC. I appreciated the camaraderie of my fellow staff and cadets. I fondly remember the weekly staff meetings, the Sr. PERI,  conducted at the “round table” as if he were umpiring a ball game: bases earned, strikes against {learn from your mistakes and don’t strike out next at bat}. Finally, I would be remiss if I did not acknowledge the late Capt Neil Hubbard for his friendly leadership style, and a special thank you to Ann Dutton then secretary to DAth – she helped all the PERI staff on a regular basis. [email protected]

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Marc Comeau

e-veritas: At which Military College did you serve?

Marc Comeau: I served as a Physical Education Recreation Instructor at RMC from 1980-5. I arrived at RMC as a Master Corporal and left as a Petty Officer.

e-veritas: What was your primary duty at the College?

Marc Comeau: In addition to regular physical education classes, I instructed the cadets in unarmed combat. I had taken unarmed combat courses in Europe and I had taken a series of martial arts courses. I had the opportunity to train in martial arts with the Robert Koka group, who trained law enforcement and military personnel. I recall that Robert Koka taught me how to flip like a flounder from one end of the mat to another. Gary Plante, a PERI at RMC was my mentor in grappling and wrestling.

I instructed the cadets in sailing. I began instructing cadets at the college based on my on job training from J.B. Kelly, the head instructor for Canadian Forces sailing association. Once J.B Kelly taught me how to sail, I was hooked. I was certified by the Canadian Yaughting Association to level 3 digny sailing and coastal cruising.

e-veritas: How did you become a PERI?

Marc Comeau: I was recruited in basic training in Shilo Manitoba. I was asked if I was interested in being a PERI because I was very interested in sports. I competed in hockey, track and field, baseball,swimming etc. It is easier to list the sports I didn`t play rather than the sports I played.

e-veritas: I understand that you were asked to come to RMC?

Marc Comeau: Yes. Some people think that PERI were simply posted to the Military Colleges. In my case, I was originally posted to Goose Bay. I was called in May by the career manager and asked if I
wanted to go to the College. I was told that my name had come up as a good instructor who may be suitable for the College. I was told that I was promoted either way. I preferred to go to the Military College
which was a prestigious posting. It was a sign that a PERI was a good instructor. It was an opportunity to deal with future leaders of military. If a PERI did not want to instruct cadets, it would be bad
for the college. The schedule at the College was very demanding. I got to work at 7:15 and instructed until 4pm. I got home after varsity training at 7 at night. On Friday afternoon, I would take a van with
the team off to a tournament. After a long work week, a trip to Windsor, for example seemed like a long drive. If I was young again, I would take a physical education instructing/coaching job at RMC in a heart beat.

e-veritas: Did you also coach or be involved with a varsity team? Explain.

Marc Comeau: I coached the College varsity tennis and badminton teams. I coached the first women`s varsity team at RMC: tennis. The team was composed of several members of the first class of 32 lady cadets and a few from the next class. 15519 Sandra Macleod (Hawes) (RMC 1986), my best tennis player, had played tennis competitively prior to coming to RMC. Some of the players were first exposed to tennis at the College. I recall several of the players including 14467 Jo-Anne MacIsaac (RMC 1984) and 14504 Brigitte Vachon (RMC 1984). We ended up 4-5th in a league of 10-12 teams. Since I travelled with the teams I didn`t spend too many weekends at home.

e-veritas: What do you consider the highlight of serving at the Military College?

Marc Comeau: There were a lot of highlights at RMC. If I had to pick one, I would choose the graduation parade. Since I am an emotional guy, my tears would flow because I was very happy and proud of the cadets. I couldn`t bear to watch the graduation parade from below so I watched from the Lasalle building. I enjoyed the Cadets` success. I have been interested in following their careers in the military and civilian street.

e-veritas: What were the challenges or irritants at the College?

Marc Comeau: Sometimes, I was bewildered as to where the PERI belonged in the College establishment. Breaking bread is important and in the field, officers eat after the men in the same facilities. When I arrived at RMC, I was going to the galley for lunch. I was pulled aside by the senior NCO who told me that I couldn`t sit in the cadet`s mess to eat. I asked where the senior NCOs eat. I was told that the senior NCOs ate with the dish waters and pot cleaners in the back of the kitchen. When I met with the D Cadets about the issue, he didn`t realize that the senior NCOs were eating in the kitchen. A dining room for senior NCOs was created very quickly after that. The issue was brought forward diplomatically. It took 3 months to designate a place for the NCO dining room; an alcove off to side.

e-veritas: What was the standard of dress for a PERI?

Marc Comeau: For travel to away games, we wore number 6 grey flannels with blue jackets with no college crest on blazer. I couldn`t understand why the PERI could instruct at RMC, coach the varsity team but not wear the insignia of the College.

e-veritas: Are you still involved with the CF? If yes, what do you do? If no, what are you doing these days?

Marc Comeau: I retired from the Canadian Forces in 1988. I became the senior physical education instructor/athletic director at the Coast Guard College from 1988 until 2002, when I retired for a second time. My wife, Major Petra Comeau is still serving in the forces. My role at the moment is domestic engineer. We live in Fredericton New Brunswick. In the mornings, I play tennis at a local club. My wife and I have lots of irons in the fire. We love to sail our 38 foot sail boat. I have recently learned to kayak. We are looking forward to going to our cottage in Nova Scotia.

e-veritas: Do you have any suggestions?

Marc Comeau: The former PERI/PERO get together each year for reunions. It might be nice for the PERIs to come back to tour RMC during ex-cadet weekend or the annual PERI golf tournament in Kingston.

E-veritas: Do you have any particular memory or short story you would like to share with our readers?

Marc Comeau: I was in awe of my colleagues on staff at RMC. My colleagues were there for each other if we needed help on anything. Coffee breaks were educational opportunities. I recall Tom MacKay; Greg Peet; Dave Honsinger; and the other coaches arguing or lecturing on hockey, basketball, volleyball or coaching strategy. The athletic staff were very good and we all took a lot of pride in the College. At the College, we frequently dealt with people who had different perspectives. It was important to be willing to work hard with the cadets, and the effort was worthwhile. It was important to give 100%, because the other staff and cadets were doing their best. People who were trying to take short cuts really stood out.    Marc Comeau [email protected]

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Ron Kinnee

e-veritas: At which Military College did you serve?

Ron Kinnee: I was the Athletic Director at RRMC from 1986-88. At the time, the first group of lady cadets was getting ready to graduate from RRMC.

e-veritas: How did you come to be a Physical Education Recreation Officer (PERO)?

Ron Kinnee: I started as an air craftsman second class in the accounts trade. After earning a university degree in physical education, I joined the Royal Canadian Air Force as a recreation specialist officer in 1967.

e-veritas: What was your primary duty?

Ron Kinnee: Athletics was an integral part of a cadet’s life at RRMC. I organized the sports and athletic program at the varsity and intramural levels at RRMC. I was also responsible for facilities maintenance. I reported to the Director of Cadets. The varsity programs included hockey, volleyball, basketball, rugby, badminton, golf, cross country running and rowing and sailing. I hired officials and ran officiating clinics for the cadets, who refereed the intramurals.

e-veritas: Did you also coach or be involved with a varsity team? Explain.

Ron Kinnee: I coached the varsity hockey team. The hockey team trained after classes and before dinner during the week and we travelled on the weekends to competitions. In addition to competing against Canadian universities, we competed against Canadian Forces teams such as Canadian Forces Bases Chilliwack and Comox. The Varsity teams also competed against intramural teams at the Air Force Academy.

e-veritas: What do you consider the high-light of serving at the Military College?

Ron Kinnee: Starting the rowing program at RRMC was the high-light of serving at RRMC. I recall going to Seattle to buy a shell. I am still irritated that I had to pay duty on the shell. I recall that the RRMC ladies` 4 man scull competed for the first time against the University of Victoria. Although the oars got tangled up at one point, RRMC won the race.

e-veritas: You mentioned sculling. Could you explain this?

Ron Kinnee: Sculling is also one division of the Olympic sport of competitive rowing, involving races between small light boats propelled by one, two, or four rowers. The oars, and the boats are often referred to as “sculls”. In competitive rowing, overall fitness plays a large role. The RRMC rowing team did dry land training on rowing machines. While rowing in a protected inlet near RRMC, the cadets sat in the boat facing backward towards the stern. The cadet used the oars which are held in place by the oarlocks to propel the boat forward towards the bow. I marvelled at how the cadets beat hell for a period of time!

e-veritas: What are you doing these days?

Ron Kinnee: Since retiring as a Major in 1994 under the Force Retirement Program, I have stayed fit by golfing and swimming. I compete in anOld Timer’s Hockey League. My wife Bonnie and I live in Invermere BC., in the heart of the Canadian Rocky Mountains. [email protected]

e-veritas: Do you have any particular memory or short story you would like to share with our readers?

Ron Kinnee: I recall my first Royal Roads Military College parade. Many military Parades are relatively simple and short. I was impressed at the complexity of the RRMC parade, which took over an hour and a half. The parade was wonderful with the College in the background. I sat in the stands, which were the bleachers we used for rugby games. At RRMC, one parade was held each week. The cadets worked very hard and became extremely good at it. I enjoyed listening to the band play. I liked the pomp and circumstance of the young men and women in their scarlet uniforms.

e-veritas: You mentioned that the first class of lady cadets were getting ready to graduate.

Ron Kinnee: Yes. There weren’t a lot of the first class of lady cadets left at RRMC since most of them had transferred to RMC or CMR after their first couple years at the College. At the time, RRMC only granted a limited series of degrees. I was surprised and pleased to see how the lady cadets were treated. The lady cadets did what the men did. I recall that the lady cadets were very fit. Nevertheless, some had a hard time with certain elements of the fitness test. Some lady cadets, for example, were not physically strong enough to do the chin ups. I recall that the lady cadets persevered.

e-veritas: Do you recall any skylarks at the College?

Ron Kinnee: Well, yes. When I first got to RRMC I gave a speech to the incoming first year cadets in the gymnasium at 8 am. Five minutes later, the first year cadets were falling asleep. Apparently, the senior cadets had had the first years running since 5 am. Although they tried, the cadets couldn’t stay awake.

e-veritas: Did you have a role in cadet discipline?

Ron Kinnee: Yes. As Director Athletics I attended weekly meetings with the other senior staff. We discussed the cadets` academic problems and strategized over how to help them. I was surprised to find that students who earned 90% in high school sometimes earned 45% in first exams at the College. It was important to advise the cadets early on if there were problems, so they had 3-4 months to try to fix the problem. Although some cadets were generally unsuited to military life, many simply had difficulty adjusting and managing their time. Once the cadet learned to govern his or her busy schedule, they were fine.

e-veritas: Do any of the cadets stand out in your memory?

Ron Kinnee: Yes, several. I recall 17491 Mark Mombourquette (RMC 1990), who the cadets called `Mombo`. I recall 17505 Dan Robinson (RRMC RMC 1990) as a very good all-round athlete. I remember that 16100 Glenn Kerr (RRMC 1987) wanted to be the hockey goaltender. Although he was not big, he would do anything to stop the puck. In fact, Kerr eagerly stopped the puck (with his face – he was always wearing a goalie mask & helmet) when he really should have ducked. I believe Kerr became a pilot with the Snowbirds.      [email protected]

Interviews carried out by E3161 Victoria Edwards (RMC 2003)

2 Comments

  • R. A. L (Robin) Carter

    April 17, 2009 at 10:18 am

    In the article on Ron Kinnee there is a photo of a plaque, Value of Training, which used to hang in the gym at Royal Roads. Where is it now? The photo is fairly small so it’s hard to read. Could you post the contents on a future issue of Veritas?

  • Victoria Edwards

    April 18, 2009 at 10:23 am

    “The duration of an athletic contest is only a few minutes, while the training for it may take many weeks of arduous work and continuous exercise of self-effort. The real value of sport is not the actual game played in the limelight of applause but the hours of dogged determination and self-discipline carried out alone, imposed and supervised by an exacting conscience. The applause soon dies away, the prize is left behind, but the character you build is yours forever.” – Physical Education and Recreation Sign