Cape Breton Capers coaching legend Stephen (Ness) Timmons has CBU soccer field named after him
SYDNEY, NS — It’s fair to say that Stephen (Ness) Timmons might call the Cape Breton University soccer field his second home.
Over the past 25 years, the New Waterford product has spent more time on the field, whether practicing or playing games as head coach of the Cape Breton Capers women’s soccer team, than his home.
Though he’s won Atlantic College Athletic championships, played in tough weather conditions, and watched minor league games on the field, none will be more special than the one he played recently.
To celebrate Timmons’ 25th anniversary as head of the women’s soccer program, Cape Breton University has officially renamed the school field as the Ness Timmons Soccer Field.
The announcement was made April 7 at the university’s athletics banquet at the Membertou Trade and Convention Center after a 20-minute tribute to the man known for his down-to-earth and approachable attitude.
“It totally blindsided me and totally surprised me,” Timmons said when reached by the Cape Breton Post. “No one told me there was going to be something like this, but for them to make this announcement, I’m sure to be humbled.”
Stephen “Ness” Timmons
- Hometown: New Waterford, N.S.
- Home: New Waterford, NS
- Age: 64
- Position: Head Coach of the Cape Breton Capers women’s soccer team
- Occupation: Retired educator
- Years as Capers head coach: 25
Prior to the name change, the site was known as the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex Turf Field. The land is located behind the university, near the Cape Breton Health Recreation Complex building on the CBU campus.
Timmons acknowledged the recognition, noting he is proud to have his name on a state-of-the-art facility in Cape Breton.
“A lot of times you get a celebration when you retire or when you quit a job or when you die, but it’s nice that I’m still coaching and active and I can get back to work today and tomorrow there. “, said Timmons.
“To have something that bears your name and to be able to leave a legacy in that sense is quite an honor. I’m going to work on the field that bears my name and I think it’s pretty cool.
Timmons shared the honor with his family as well as his team, who were joined by all of the Capers sports teams as well as guests and former players.
He admits he doesn’t know how he will feel when he first sees the sign bearing his name on the pitch fence.
“It depends on the size of the panel – if it’s a small panel, I might not even notice it,” Timmons laughed. “If they put in a big one, I don’t know what to think. I’m still trying to digest the whole scene they put together for me, it was really amazing.
CBU President David Dingwall praised Timmons for his career with the program.
“Ness is a role model for all of us on what it means to be a leader,” Dingwall said in his speech. “We are honored to name our university’s soccer field the ‘Ness’ Timmons Soccer Field. »
Capers athletic director John Ryan said Timmons is one of U Sports’ best coaches in any sport.
“The excellence, impact and influence he has provided over his 25 years is unrivaled,” he said. “Many of his former student-athletes are thriving in their careers because of the time they spent learning under Ness.”
By the numbers
Capers braces under Timmons
- 1996 – Capers Football Returns
- 1999 – Capers finishes with a 2-9-2 record
- 2000 – Capers finishes with a 10-2-1 record
- 2003 – Capers wins AUS title
- 11 – AUS titles with Timmons as coach since 2003
- 2007 – First national title for Capers
- 2017 – Silver at Nationals
- 2018 – Bronze at nationals
- 194-33-43 – Record of wins, losses and ties for Timmons
Growing up in the former mining town, Timmons played several sports, including soccer for the Breton Education Centre, before graduating in 1975.
His passion for sports led him down the path of teaching, attending both University College of Cape Breton and St. Francis Xavier University in Antigonish where he earned a degree in physical education.
After working as a substitute teacher in Cape Breton, Timmons packed his bags and moved to Western Canada in 1982 for full-time teaching opportunities in Alberta and British Columbia – it was there that he found his passion for coaching.
When he returned to Cape Breton in 1988 and a full-time position opened up at the BEC, he immediately jumped at the chance to coach the Bears.
Under the leadership of Timmons and Richie Wilcox, the BEC men’s soccer teams quickly became provincial contenders every year in the early 1990s. Timmons was part of the coaching staff that guided the Bears to provincial titles at the senior level of Division 1 in 1994 and 1995.
Meanwhile, the University College of Cape Breton was preparing to reinstate its soccer program for the 1996 season after a short hiatus caused by the one-time soccer program in 1990.
With a new coach in place, the school administration approached Timmons with the option of playing at the junior college or university level – there was no hesitation for Timmons, who chose the current AUS.
The decision to play in the college league was a risky one. With the majority of the squad made up of homegrown players, it took some time to see progress in the win column.
The program continued to struggle, but Timmons could see the light at the end of the tunnel.
In 1999, the Capers finished the season with a 2-9-2 record. The following season, 2000, the club would finish first overall in the league with a 10–2–1 record – a turnaround from the previous year, even with 10 rookies in the roster.
The tide had turned for Timmons and the Capers program. In addition to the winning season, players Michelle Desjardins and Jenny Holmes were named AUS first-team stars, while Jenny Watson was a second-team star.
Although they didn’t win the league title, players began to notice the change in momentum. Recruiting slowly improved, and Timmons was able to field an AUS championship-winning team in 2003.
As Timmons stuck to the program, he built a winning culture.
Under his leadership, the Capers have won 11 AUS titles since 2003 and the Cape Breton team has been in the final four in the AUS championship every year since 2000.
He also led the Capers to the program’s first-ever national championship in 2007, an event hosted by Cape Breton at the old Veterans Memorial Turf in New Waterford. The club also won national silver and bronze medals in 2017 and 2018, respectively.
In player development, Timmons has had several high-end players, including AUS Most Valuable Players Sarah Drake (2002), Natalie Cullen (2003), Kristina Weatherbie (2007), Karolyne Blain (2013 and 2014 ), as well as most recently Ciera Disipio (2017, 2018 and 2019).
Along with winning 11 AUS titles, Timmons has also received several coaching awards for his efforts with the program.
Timmons was seven times AUS Coach of the Year and three times U Sports Coach of the Year, both records in women’s soccer in Canada.
In addition to national medals, since 2000 Timmons has compiled an impressive 194 wins, 33 losses and 43 draws in the AUS, making him the winningest coach during that span.
Timmons, who emphasizes character and school as top priorities, also had the opportunity to be Team Canada’s head coach for the 2003 World University Games.
“To have something that bears your name and to be able to leave a legacy in that sense is quite an honor. I’m going to work on the field that bears my name and I think it’s pretty cool. – Stephen ‘Ness’ Timmons, Capers Women’s Soccer Coach
Preparing for the season
Timmons didn’t have much time to celebrate the pitch’s renaming. Just hours after the announcement, the 64-year-old was on a plane to Ontario for a soccer player presentation in Ottawa.
Although Timmons’ roster is pretty much set for the 2022 AUS season, he said the trip is more about getting the recruiting process started for the 2023 campaign.
The Capers will hit the turf at the new Ness Timmons Soccer Field in August for training camp. The season should start at the beginning of September.
When asked for his final thoughts on renaming the field, Timmons could only laugh.
“Maybe I’ll have an easier time booking the pitch now since my names are on it,” Timmons joked. “I said that Capers men’s coach Deano (Morley) and the other guys are going to have to wait until I get my times now for practice.”
Jeremy Fraser is the sports reporter for the Cape Breton Post. Follow him on Twitter @CBPost_Jeremy.