Long-time coming: Regina Rams remove interim tag, name Mark McConkey head coach

Photo courtesy: Regina Rams Athletics / Piper Sports Photography

The University of Regina has finally done what seemed like a foregone conclusion, officially naming Mark McConkey as the head coach of the Rams football program.

McConkey has served as the Rams’ interim head coach for almost two calendar years since the firing of Steve Bryce, guiding the team through the COVID season in 2020 and through the pandemic-shortened 2021 campaign.

“We are beyond thrilled to officially welcome Mark as the Rams’ head coach,” University of Regina director of sport, community engagement & athlete development Lisa Robertson said in a statement. “He has done a wonderful job over the past two years in his interim role. Mark has worked tirelessly to earn the respect of his players and his fellow coaches and I know he’s the perfect choice to lead this program now and into the future.”

The Rams finished last in the Canada West, going just 1-5 during McConkey’s interim season, but that lone win came in the team’s home opener over a Calgary team that entered the game ranked No. 1 in the nation. Individual season highlights for the Rams included defensive back Brandon Gandire and linebacker Ryder Varga both earning Canada West all-star nods, while a record total of 30 players were named Academic All-Canadians following the 2020 season.

“It’s an incredible honour to be named the head coach of the University of Regina Rams,” McConkey said. “I’m looking forward to continuing to build off the strong foundation we’ve laid in the past two years. The shift in team culture fostered by these young leaders is tangible and I know the future is bright for the program.”

McConkey is the first former University of Regina player to be named head coach of the Rams. One of the most prolific receivers in program history, McConkey compiled 180 catches in his career  which was the most in Canada West history at that time. Named a conference all-star in 2011 and an Academic All-Canadian in 2013, McConkey still ranks third in team history in receptions and seventh in receiving yards.

After graduating with Bachelor of Kinesiology and Bachelor of Education degrees from the U of R, McConkey took a full-time role as a teacher at Greenall High School in nearby Balgonie. It didn’t take long before he returned to the Rams, though, as he was hired prior to the 2015 season as the team’s offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, and academic coach.

Highlighting the list of individual accomplishments during McConkey’s tenure as a coordinator was the selection of quarterback Noah Picton as the Hec Crighton Trophy recipient in 2016, an annual award given to the top player in all of U SPORTS.

McConkey and his wife Taylor live in Regina and are the parents of two children, Owen and Ellie.