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  • Writer's pictureESSEX FREE PRESS

Ridout named Essex 73’s new Head Coach 

by Garrett Fodor

The Essex 73’s will have a new face leading its team and shaping the players this upcoming season.

When Jamie McDermott announced he was stepping down from the helm as Head Coach of the 73’s recently, the organization was tasked with finding a replacement. The club is looking to get back to the other side of the handshake line and aiming to win its first Stobbs Division title since 2017.

Last Monday, the club announced the search was over and they had found the next Head Coach, Windsor native, Mark Ridout.

Ridout is a familiar name within the Windsor-Essex hockey community. He spent four-years playing in the OHL for the Windsor Spitfires, the Mississauga IceDogs, and the Plymouth Whalers.

Upon finishing there, he went on to play at St. Clair college. Upon wrapping-up his playing career, he stepped into the coaching ranks. Ridout first began with the Windsor Lancers in 2017, as an Assistant Coach under Kevin Hamlin, leaving at the end of the 2019 season. He then headed to Flint for two seasons, working with Eric Wellwood in the same capacity, before spending the 2021-2022 season with the Leamington Flyers.

This opportunity marks the first-time Ridout will be at the helm as Head Coach for a junior hockey team.

While never playing for the hockey club, he is no stranger to the organization, as his brother had played for and captained the team previously. With his brother playing for the club growing up, Ridout said he was no stranger to Tuesday night games at the old Essex Memorial Arena.

“If you would have asked me maybe two-weeks ago if I would have been coaching this season, I would have told you ‘no,’” Ridout said. “As a father with four kids in competitive sports and hockey, leaving the area just is not a fit for me and my family. But when Mike [Pailey] called, discussing the role – and learning more about the organization – I quickly [became] excited and thankful to be given this opportunity. I feel it is the best spot for me to be with my family.”

Being 20-minutes away from the rink, Ridout noted this opportunity will allow his oldest son, Zach, as well as his other children, a chance to be around the team. He said it’s incredibly special to him to be able to not only be home with his children, but also share these experiences with them.

Looking back on his experiences, Ridout said he was fortunate to not only play under several great coaches, but also to work with several great coaches in Kevin Hamlin, Eric Wellwood, and Dale Mitchell. He hopes to utilize what he learned from his previous coaches, as well as what he learned about himself as a person and through his time as a player, to help to create an educational environment, where he can develop a very structured hockey team this upcoming year.

Ridout did not have much time to accustom himself to the club. Within one-week of getting the job, the club held its spring camp, with potential players looking to make an early impression on Ridout, Pailey, and the 73’s brass.

He said he was excited to get to work, and meet some of the potential returning players, who helped serve as coaches throughout the weekend, as well as some of the potential players who were trying out. As Ridout was coaching his son previously, he noted this weekend was a chance to meet a lot of the players and members of the organization for the first-time.

As he looks ahead to next season, Ridout is optimistic and excited about the potential opportunity to bring a championship back to Essex and help this group win.

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