Former Carleton head coach Steve Sumarah joins UBC as offensive coordinator

Jeff Sargeant, UBC Athletics

Photo courtesy: Carleton Ravens Athletics

Veteran U Sports football coach Steve Sumarah has joined the University of British Columbia as the team’s offensive coordinator.

A native of Halifax, NS, Sumarah has 16 years of head coaching experience at the Canadian university level and a long history with Thunderbirds head coach Blake Nill with whom he won two Vanier Cup championships at Saint Mary’s University.

“The opportunity to coach again with Blake was hard to turn down,” said Sumarah who was Nill’s OC with SMU from 1998 to 2005. “We think alike, I think we have a really good chemistry, and I think the key is we have a really big trust between each other and it kind of made it a no-brainer. The fact that it’s at UBC made it even better.”

Claiming back-to-back Vanier Cups with the Huskies in 2001 and 2002, Sumarah and Nill had another two national championship appearances and six consecutive Atlantic University Sport conference titles during their tenure together.

When Nill left Saint Mary’s for the Canada West following the 2005 season, Sumarah assumed the head coaching duties for the Huskies, a post he held until 2011, winning four consecutive AUS titles and the 2009 U Sports coach of the year award in the process.

“I’ve always mentioned to Steve the possibility of coaching together again, but I didn’t expect it to be happening at this time,” said Nill on reuniting with Sumarah.

“When that opportunity came, I thought this program needed to take advantage of it and went out and did so. Our athletic director, Kavie Toor, our two directors and their teams did a tremendous job and it was through alumni support we were able to guarantee the funds for this particular hire.”

Following his final season at SMU in 2011, Sumarah was hired by Carleton University to oversee the rebirth of the Ravens football program. Serving as head coach there for ten years, Sumarah is now set to continue his football journey on the west coast with an up and coming program.

“One of the reasons I coach, and why I’ve coached for so long, is because of the student-athletes,” said Sumarah who will be relocating to Vancouver from Ottawa over the coming weeks.

“When I looked at the roster and I heard Blake and the other coaches talk about the players they have, who’s here and who they’re recruiting, it’s exciting, it gets the juices flowing again. This is a team that’s very close, on the verge of some great things and it’s exciting to be a part of.”

“He’s a very, very talented offensive mind,” added Nill of the Thunderbirds’ new addition. “He’s kept up with the times, has always been innovative and been a step ahead of most trends going forward over the last 25-plus years.”

The addition of a full time offensive coordinator means Taylor Nill, who had previously acted as UBC’s OC for the past three seasons, will remain on staff, but in a reduced capacity as he juggles his love for coaching along with growing his own business.

“I’m glad Taylor is going to remain in the program as much as possible. Obviously I’m very proud of the job he did the last three years with us, including the COVID year. I thought last year was a tremendous indication for the kind of talent Taylor really has as a coach,” added Nill.

“We were top five in numerous categories last year under Taylor’s direction with the reality he was doing it three hours a day and not 15 hours a day. He brought tremendous leadership to the program, we’re going to miss him in that aspect but we’re happy that he’s still remaining in a reduced capacity.”

The transition between Taylor Nill and Sumarah should be as seamless as possible, not only because the former remains on the T-Birds’ staff, but the two have known each other well since the younger Nill was in his formative years on the east coast.