Getting to know your U SPORTS athletics staff: Chris Huggan, UPEI Panthers


Throughout the 2017-18 season, U SPORTS sits down with one key athlete, coach, and staff member of each U SPORTS athletic program in our new interview series “Getting to know…”

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Name: Chris Huggan
School: University of Prince Edward Island (UPEI)
Position: Director of Athletics and Recreation
Seniority: Fourth year
Previous job/position: Athletic Director & Physical Education Teacher - Colonel Gray High School
Hometown: Charlottetown, P.E.I.

  1. How did you get to your current position, and what do you enjoy most about our job?

Prior to working at UPEI, I spent 18 years teaching physical education and leadership and was the Athletic Director at Colonel Gray High School in Charlottetown. I believe I got this position because we had built a very positive and successful athletics department at Colonel Gray and at the time the university needed an infusion of energy and enthusiasm in the athletics department. I think it has been a great fit for both of us.

What I enjoy most about my job is that every day is focused on sport and people.  We have a very student-centred approach at UPEI and I enjoy working with our team in the department to try to provide our students with the best experience possible.

  1. Who has had the most influence on your career?

It is a challenge to answer this, as I have friends, teachers and professsors and colleagues who come to mind, however I have to say my parents.  Their love and support helped build the confidence to pursue initiatives and take risks that developed skill sets essential to this leadership role.

  1. What is your greatest sporting moment or achievement?

Greatest sporting moment would be hitting two foul shots to clinch the Netted Jem Basketball Tournament championship over a much heavily favoured opponent.  Most memorable moment was guarding Steve Nash at the 1993 Canada Games in Kamloops. Greatest sporting accomplishment would be being chosen as the athlete of the year at Charlottetown Rural High School.

  1. How would you define a UPEI Panther student-athlete?

A Panther is Proud, someone who has a Purpose (to be their best), is Prepared, values People, has a Positive outlook, is Professional (reliable, polite) and Present (focused), with extreme levels of Passion and Perseverance (resilient). 

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  1. What does success look like for the UPEI athletics program?

I am way too competitive not to factor championships into my definition of a successful program.  However, if our students feel welcome (part of the Panther family), know they are supported and cared for, are led by highly-qualified leaders, have the supports needed to be their best in the classroom, in their respective sports and in the community, and ultimately leave UPEI better prepared to be a positive contributor to society, I would say we have been successful. 

  1. What’s the biggest challenge you face in today’s sports world?

Without a doubt the biggest challenge we face is wanting/needing/finding the resources necessary to compete at the regional and national level.  Every university is seeking the best student-athletes and want to offer the best student-athlete experience.  It requires more and more to do so.

  1. Where would you like to see Canadian university sport in the next three to five years?

I would like to see us continue to grow and gain profile.  I believe the efforts being made at every institution to better promote our student-athletes and our product will pay off achieving these goals.  It would be great to see university sport in Canada gain a similar following/prestige as it has in the U.S. 

  1. If you could sit down for dinner with one person in the sports industry (athlete, coach or manager), who would it be? Why? What would you talk about?

If he was still living, hands down John Wooden.  My second choice would be to sit with Tiger Woods.  He is a man who at a very young age had the competitive greatness that enabled him to focus in, find another level and will himself to victory.  He had the world by the tail and everything going for him, then saw it all crumble.  Now he is cherishing baby steps of progress trying put the pieces back together again. 

I would ask him to reflect on his journey and see what advice he would have for young aspiring athletes, (or for coaches/sport administrators).  I would be interested in knowing what he would do differently if he was to turn back time.  I would like to know how he has reframed his goals and how he now defines success. 

  1. What would you say to a sports fan who’s never watched a U SPORTS game/tournament/competition?

Time to start!  It is fun to watch these exceptional role models who invest a lot of time and effort in their pursuit of athletic and academic excellence.  University sport is likely the best deal in town and offers a high-calibre product at a low price!

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  1. What do you enjoy doing when you’re away from work?

I love spending time with my wife Carolyn and our three girls Jadyn (9), Alexis (7) and Casey (4).  Outside of family time, I enjoy coaching basketball - working with Grade 2 and Grade 4 girls – and staying active.