By David Grossman
David Hadden has had his share of memorable moments.
There was the time he played four professional seasons in the Canadian Football League and later, for 23 years, when he took over the leadership as head of school for Lakefield College School, a private educational institution in Lakefield, Ont..
Hadden also recalls the notable times leading up to his bachelor of arts and teacher’s degrees at Queen’s University.
These days, slowing down just a bit from rigorous full-time work, Hadden still faces momentous tasks and challenges as a strategic adviser for Canadian Accredited Independent Schools.
But there remains something very special that supersedes everything else: Hadden’s days as a student, teacher and coach at Upper Canada College.
“UCC had a huge and positive impact on my life, from the day I started boarding school in 1964 as a Grade 7 student to the lifelong friends and the wonderful education,” says Hadden, who lives in the picturesque Lakefield community, about a 90-minute drive northeast of Toronto.
“Gosh, those times at UCC were special years for me.”
In addition to a strong commitment to education and friendship, there were also indelible times in sports.
“Looking back, the biggest highlight for me in sport was playing UCC rugby,” says Hadden. “I was a right prop, and we went to the all-Ontario playoffs in 1970 and crushed the field.
“That was something special. The victories were great, but it was the association with a great group of guys on my team that I’ll always remember.”
Hadden had a passion for excellence in sport and played on championship football, hockey and rugby teams while at UCC.
After graduating from UCC in 1971, Hadden chose to attend Queen’s, where he focussed on football and led the league in rushing while averaging almost 20 yards a carry. He was the team MVP in 1973 and was later inducted to the Queen’s Hall of Fame.
A rugged running back in his educational years, Hadden was affectionately tagged with the nickname “The Beast.”
Hadden was a CFL first round draft selection of Ottawa in 1974. But he never played for the Rough Riders and, after playing two seasons with Toronto and then a year each for Saskatchewan and Hamilton, his path changed and he embarked on a career in education.
“What I remember most about being a student at UCC was the incredible character and authenticity from teachers,” recalls Hadden.
“They were genuine and it was a special culture of educators that brought the best out of us. They permitted us to be our authentic selves.”