The University of Ottawa has hired Marcel Bellefeuille as the head coach and program manager of the Gee-Gees football team.
A 25-year professional and Canadian university coaching veteran, Bellefeuille returns to his alma mater 20 years after leading the program to its second Vanier Cup victory in 2000.
“It is tremendously exciting for the University of Ottawa to welcome Marcel Bellefeuille back as our head coach and program manager of the Gee-Gees football program. He brings a wealth of knowledge to our program and was the right fit that we needed at this time as a life-long coach at the university and professional level,” Sue Hylland, Director of Varsity Athletics at uOttawa, said.
“He is already a part of our Gee-Gees family. He brings what we wanted – strong leadership, great communications skills, and the ability to rally and unite the many stakeholders that form a large program like football. We are excited for the future.”
The Ottawa native served as head coach of the program from 1998 to 2000, amassing an overall record of 26-5 and leading the Gee-Gees football team to their first national title in 25 years. In 2018, Bellefeuille was inducted into the Gee-Gees Football Hall of Fame.
“It is an honour and privilege to have the opportunity to return home and coach the Gee- Gees football team. This program has a rich and storied history,” Bellefeuille said.
“As an alumnus and former employee, the University of Ottawa has always had a special place in my heart. I would like to thank the University and the Alouettes for making this opportunity a reality.”
Bellefeuille’s history with the Gee-Gees began over 35 years ago, while still attending Ridgemont High School. Having watched Gee-Gees games at Lansdowne Park, Bellefeuille later arrived at the university as a player in 1985.
Graduating with a Bachelor of Arts in History in 1991, Bellefeuille went on to win a championship coaching high school football in the city, eventually joining the Gee-Gees coaching staff in 1995 as an offensive assistant. Primarily working as the team’s running backs coach, Bellefeuille rose rapidly and was named head coach in 1998.
In 1998, the Gee-Gees posted a 6-2 regular season record under their new head coach. In 1999, the team’s 9-0 undefeated campaign came to an end in the Dunsmore Cup. That season, Bellefeuille was named the OQIFC Coach of the Year. In 2000, the team finished the regular season 7-1, going on to win the Dunsmore Cup and the Churchill Bowl, before defeating Regina in the Vanier Cup. At 34 years old, Bellefeuille was the youngest Vanier Cup winning head coach in history.
In 2001, Bellefeuille made the leap to professional football, becoming Saskatchewan’s offensive line coach, he then served as the Roughriders’ offensive coordinator from 2003 to 2005. In 2006 and 2007, he served as offensive coordinator in Montreal with the Alouettes and coached in the 2006 Grey Cup prior to moving on to his first head coaching job in the CFL.
From 2008 to 2011, Bellefeuille was the head coach of the Hamilton Tiger-Cats, revamping a struggling franchise to lead the team to three consecutive playoff berths, including a trip to the Eastern Division finals in 2011. He was a finalist for CFL Coach of the Year in 2009.
In 2012, he entered U.S. professional football in the United Football League (UFL) to serve as offensive coordinator of the Omaha Nighthawks. In 2013, he returned to the CFL where he was named the offensive coordinator in Winnipeg until 2015. In 2016, Bellefeuille became the wide receivers coach with the BC Lions, where he stayed until 2018. Over the course of his career, Bellefeuille has coached every offensive position at the professional level.
Bellefeuille returned to U Sports coaching in 2018, serving as the offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach of the Queen’s Gaels. Under his direction, the Gaels finished second in the OUA in passing yards per game with 334 and averaged 30.5 points per game.
In 2019, he coached professionally in the Texas Spring League, which also provided a series of showcase games after the season for the upcoming XFL season. Following the league’s completion, he returned to the Canada to serve as a scout for the Edmonton Eskimos. In December, Bellefeuille was brought on to be the Montreal Alouettes offensive line coach prior to his appointment as the head coach for the Gee-Gees.
Bellefeuille, 54, lives in Ottawa with his wife Julie. Together they have four children, Ymilie (U of O graduate), Alexandra (U of O graduate), Mathias, and Cedrik.
uOttawa Varsity Athletics began the hiring process in March and assembled a seven- person hiring committee to select the program’s next head coach. The committee consisted of a mixture of football alumni and administrators:
- Sue Hylland, Director of Varsity Athletics, uOttawa
- Danika Smith, Interim Assistant Director of High Performance Sport, uOttawa
- Roger Archambault, Vice President Performance Services, Institut National du Sport du Québec; Assistant Director of High Performance Sport, uOttawa (2015-19)
- Julian Hanlon, Football Alumnus (1974-77); Former Director of Education, Ottawa Catholic School Board
- Steve Alexandre, Academic Advisor and Head of Football Operations, CÉGEP Vieux-Montreal; Football Alumnus (1998-2001), Gee-Gees Football Hall of Fame (2018)
- Kevin Kelly, Teacher and Football Coach, St. Joseph C.H.S. Football Alumnus (2003-07), Gee-Gees Football Hall of Fame (2017)
- Rashid Timbilla, 2020 uOttawa Law Graduate; Football Alumnus (2012-15), Volunteer Coach