Retired Simon Fraser University staffer John Buchanan, whose dedication to SFU Athletics is legendary, is the 2014 recipient of the Chancellor’s Distinguished Service Award.
The annual award recognizes outstanding commitment and service to the University. Buchanan, who retired as manager of recreation in 1997 after more than 30 years of service, has continued to volunteer as many as 60 hours a week as head coach of the men’s and women’s varsity golf teams.
“John Buchanan defines engagement, the quality of being wholeheartedly dedicated to a cause or activity. Through athletics, students develop not only physical skills, but also life skills, including how to learn from and build on both success and striving,” said SFU Chancellor Anne Giardini.
“His dedication to athletics at SFU has enriched our university environment and has shaped the lives of countless students. We are all grateful to him and enormously proud of him.”
With Buchanan at the helm, the men’s golf team has won 11 West Coast Region 1 National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics (NAIA) championships since 1991, plus finished second at the 1999 NAIA Nationals.
Buchanan established SFU’s first men’s soccer team in 1966, and coached the team from 1975-81 in the NAIA. Under his leadership, the team won six straight NAIA regional championships, and the 1976 national championship, which was played in the Rose Bowl in Pasadena, Calif.
In total, Buchanan has been to 18 national championships for soccer and golf.
Buchanan was an assistant soccer coach with the B.C. provincial, Canadian World University Games and Canadian World Cup teams. In 1974 and 1975, he was assistant coach for the North American Soccer League Vancouver Whitecaps. He was also assistant coach with the Canadian national team at the 1976 Montreal Olympics.
In 1986, he was inducted as a charter member of the SFU Athletic Hall of Fame and, in 2006, he was inducted into the Canadian Soccer Hall of Fame.
“I’m very honoured and a little taken aback,” Buchanan said about receiving the Chancellor’s award.
While his list of achievements in athletics is lengthy, Buchanan says his proudest moments at SFU include:
• Being appointed assistant to the director of recreation in 1972;
• Seeing soccer established as a varsity sport;
• Winning the NAIA national championship in 1976; and
• Qualifying the men’s golf team for the NCAA Division 2 national championship last season
But winning the 1976 men’s soccer national championship holds a place of honour in his memories.
“When you win a national championship, you’ve reached the pinnacle of success from a university team perspective,” says Buchanan. “Representing your country at the Olympics would be another one.”
The Coquitlam resident was also instrumental in establishing the SFU Pipe Band, which has earned a number of international honours and worldwide recognition for SFU.