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Mills takes step back from coaching

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Glen Mills has been head coach of the Essex Ravens’ varsity football team for more than a quarter century.

“I think I'm ready. I think it'll be a nice break,” he said.

Mills has decided to step down as head coach of the team after coaching upwards of 2,500 players since 1997.

“It’s been a grind,” said Mills, who felt it would be nice to take a break to perhaps reenergize. “I won’t have to worry about practice plans. I won’t have to worry about set up. I won’t have to worry about getting there two-and-a half hours early to get ready.”

He’s looking forward to the flexibility in his schedule.

“If there's days I don't want to go, I can kind of stay home and I don't have to go,” Mills said with a smile.

Taking over as coach is former Windsor Lancers head coach Joe D'Amore, who returns to the city after spending a couple of seasons as offensive coordinator for the University of Toronto Varsity Blues.

“I made the decision to come back from Toronto. I still want to get involved. I still want to give back to the community, so I reached out to him and said, ‘Hey, I’m interested in maybe taking over the varsity team if you’re interested,’” said D’Amore.

The two have discussed the possibility in the past and the timing was right.

“Glen, he's done such an amazing job with that program. Has grown it to be a powerhouse in Ontario and I think he was just reluctant to pass it onto someone. So for him to entrust me into doing that means a lot to me,” D’Amore said.

Anyone who knows Mills knows the step back won't be too far. He remains president and director of football operations for the club and plans to be at games and help coach the younger players.

“They've obviously had a tremendous amount of success on the field,” said former NFL’er and Ravens graduate Luke Willson. “I would argue that they've had even more off the field.”

Under Mills, the Ravens have played for a championship 14 times, winning 11. But what brings him joy is the success his formers players have off the field.

“You're going to have some good times. You're going to have some disappointing times. But you [have to] be able to deal with that stuff and I think there's no greater game than football that teaches you all these things in life,” Mills said.

There are many examples in our community, including Ravens’ grad Jeff Collison, who owns a chiropractic practice in south Windsor.

He values the lessons he learned as a Raven, “Making sure you're a good person and that goes on in life to make sure you're dedicated not only at sports but in school and hopefully your career and family.”

Willson credited his time with the Ravens for helping him land a scholarship at Rice University, “Which eventually led to a lot of great things for me. I'm kind of excited to see what Glen does now when he's not the head guy. What he's going to do outside of being the head coach.”

Mills said he'd like to help put high school football on solid ground locally and help grow the game provincially.

“I know flag and touch is really big and the kids are loving that, but somehow we have to transition that to tackle football if we want to keep this thing alive,” he said.

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