Lyle Sanderson was a long-time track and field coach at the U of S.

Legendary track and field coach Lyle Sanderson remembered

Huskie Athletics and the University of Saskatchewan are saddened by the loss of track and field coach emeritus Lyle Sanderson.

By University Communications

Sanderson, originally from Piapot, Sask., passed away Thursday night in Mexico. He was 79.

“The Huskie family is deeply saddened by the passing of Lyle Sanderson,” said Chief Athletics Officer Shawn Burt. “Lyle was a pioneer in track and field and helped establish the foundation and tone for the sport within our city, province, the Canada West conference and U SPORTS. He is a wonderful example of the type of people that are members of our sporting family at the university – humble, respected, driven and dedicated to our program and athletes. Lyle’s memory will live on, not just with the track and field program, but with the entire Huskie Athletics and university community. Huskie Athletics is thinking of Lyle’s family and friends during this difficult time.”

The track and field coach, educator, motivator, mentor and innovator in the sports world began his journey at the University of Saskatchewan as a student in 1960, where he competed on both the cross country and the track and field teams. In 1965, he was appointed head coach of the track and field program and joined the College of Physical Education, a posting that lasted 39 years. His distinctions at the university include coach emeritus and a winner of the U of S Retirees Association Prime of Life Achievement Award.

“Lyle’s place in the history of the College of Kinesiology as a faculty member and coach is unmatched,” said Chad London, Dean of the College of Kinesiology. “He was widely respected and his joy and enthusiasm for both roles inspired everyone who had the benefit of his instruction. We have truly lost one of our college’s foundational members and our thoughts are with his family as well as everyone impacted by this loss.”

Sanderson is the one of the most decorated coaches in U SPORTS history and the most of any Huskie Athletics coach. He led the Huskies to 33 Canada West titles and 10 national championships, including the Huskies’ first-ever national title in 1968. He won the Colb McEown Trophy as the university’s coach of the year 10 times, was the Canadian Track and Field Association coach of the year in 1977 and 1979 and the Saskatoon Kinsmen of the Year in 1992. In 2006, he received the Austin Matthews Award for lifetime achievement in Canadian university sport and in 2011 won the prestigious Geoff Gowan Award for coaching excellence.

“Lyle Sanderson was THE head coach for Huskie track and field/cross country,” said current head coach Jason Reindl, who also competed under Sanderson from 2002-06. “Within the program he was known as having an amazingly positive impact, care, and concern for each of his athletes. He was always motivating, encouraging, and just wanted the best out of all of the student-athletes within the program, both in the classroom and on the track.

“For myself, Lyle was program defining for Huskie track & field and cross country. His success and legacy is something that we will all try to live up to. I am very proud to follow in his footsteps and call myself head coach of this program – a program that his name will always be a part of. Lyle was an amazing man, who led an amazing life, and left an amazing legacy.” 

Sanderson is a member of the University of Saskatchewan Athletic Wall of Fame, the Saskatoon Sports Hall of Fame, the Saskatchewan Sports Hall of Fame and the Canadian Track and Field Hall of Fame. He has also represented Canada at the Olympic Games, FISU Games, Commonwealth Games, Pan-American Games and the world track and field championships. He wore the red and white of Canada 54 times.

Sanderson was a pioneer in the coaching world. He integrated NCCP training into university programs, training hundreds of technical track and field candidates, and conducted coach education clinics and workshops on four continents. He also held numerous leadership posts, including being a member of the International Association of Athletics Federations’ Working Group on Youth Athletics, a team leader of its Athletics World Plan for School and Youth, and a member of its School Youth Commission.

“Lyle’s experience, knowledge, and commitment were defining for athletics coaches in Canada,” said Reindl. “His impact and leadership has stretched to every corner in the country, across the United States, and globally, as Lyle was recognized as a world leader both as a coach and in the field of long-term athlete development.”

Sanderson gave back to the U of S community through the Sanderson Foundation. All money raised for the foundation is given back to track and field or cross country athletes for scholarships or extraordinary purposes for training.

Sanderson’s career was named the No. 3 moment in history during the Huskie Athletics Centennial Celebrations in 2011-12. The video can be viewed here.

Funeral arrangements are pending.