Father Figures: Atlético Ottawa Assistant Coach, Kwesi Loney
Excerpts of the following story with Atlético Ottawa assistant coach and Carleton University Master Coach Kwesi Loney are from June 19, 2022: https://atleticoottawa.canpl.ca/article/father-figures-atletico-ottawa-assistant-coach-kwesi-loney.
A ‘solid work ethic’ and ‘treating life like a playground, not a test’ have been instrumental in Loney’s rise from the pitches of Scarborough to the Atlético Ottawa touch line.
There are no days off in the life of Kwesi Loney. Father of two, head of the Carleton Ravens soccer program and now Atlético Ottawa assistant coach – his hands are pretty full.
Returning from their trip to Edmonton, the team was granted some time off, which became an opportunity for Kwesi to catch up on Ravens related work. Soccer is an everyday passion for him and often the topic of dinner time conversations.
“To be honest with you, my wife probably wants less of it,” he laughed. “Our conversations are dominated by what’s happening on the field, or the interactions I’ve had with the players. It’s an amazing experience for me, so I come home and I’m excited.”
Working for a professional soccer club in the heart of Canada; it’s a dream come true for the young boy raised in Scarborogh’s “tight-knit west indie community”. There, a young Kwesi would start to formulate his own relationship with soccer – pillared by hard work that demanded seriousness on the field, but was complemented by joy and a sense of community off of it.
These lessons would be, unbeknownst to him at the time, the foundations of his coaching career.
“He’s just so approachable,” explained Kyle Potter, a Carleton Ravens goalkeeper who has been training with the Atlético Ottawa team this season. “One of the biggest perks about university is its a place to help build your character – especially when it comes to the off the pitch element of being an athlete.”
It’s hard to come by someone from the Carleton set-up that has a bad word to say about their Coach. Potter pointed to numerous examples of former-teammates who are now “leaders in the real world” because of the values that Kwesi has instilled in them.
Leaving the comfort of his Scarbrough community was, Kwesi admitted, a daunting task and recalls the importance of his relationship with former-Carleton Ravens head coach, Sandy Mackie.
‘“He gave me something I’d never had outside of my family construct,” said Kwesi. “Both a disciplinarian and a coach that gave me guidance as to how to live my life, how I needed to be as man. He made me captain and taught me how to be one, that I wasn’t going to be popular all the time. He taught me how to make hard decisions.
“The enjoyment came from my family roots, but Sandy taught me how to maintain standards and relationships at the same time.”
He would take over from Mackie in 2017 and built a program at Carleton that culminated in Kwesi being awarded 2019 USport Coach of the Year. His Ravens program boasts many recent success stories, with players transitioning from USports into the world of professional soccer. Those relationships, however, date back a lot longer than that.
Potter has known the man he refers to as both a “mentor and a second father” for over five years and although soccer brought them together, the young goalkeeper cherishes their conversations about life as much as any professional advice Atlético’s Assistant Coach has to offer.
“Relationships are built on sincerity, integrity and honesty,” Kwesi explained. This is a principle he has applied across age groups, delivering the same messages but tailoring the language to the audience, including here at Atlético Ottawa. From high praises to harsh realities, Kwesi relies on a direct approach which he believes nurtures trust.
“If there’s no trust we won’t build a relationship and they won’t value what I have to say,” he continued. “They need to know that I care but, being able to maintain that positive relationship is very unique in this environment. It’s a professional world, everyone is on a contract and they have a job to do, but we can’t forget the human element.
“At university it’s a little different, they are at a younger age, exploring themselves. There I’m not only building a professional, I’m helping build a human being.”
For the rest of the story from June 19, 2022 on Atlético Ottawa assistant coach Kwesi Loney, please go to: https://atleticoottawa.canpl.ca/article/father-figures-atletico-ottawa-assistant-coach-kwesi-loney.