Don Steen’s achievements in sport span five decades as an athlete, coach, and administrator and have made a remarkable contribution to BC sport in a variety of ways.
“I’ve always been a true decathlete,” he said. “I’ve never known how to stick to one thing.”
In high school Steen starred in rugby and track and he won the most valuable player award in leading Burnaby South to a provincial basketball title. Steen took his hoop skills south to the University of Oregon. Besides playing on the varsity basketball team, he also excelled in track and field. During this time he set the Canadian record for both the pentathlon and the decathlon.
After graduation, Steen returned to Burnaby South as a teacher. Coaching track and field became Steen’s passion, first at Burnaby South high school where he established a prep dynasty and as the founder and head coach of the Burnaby Striders Track and Field Club. During Steen’s twenty-year tenure, the Striders became Canada’s strongest juvenile club, producing numerous Olympic competitors.
In 1967, Steen became Simon Fraser University’s first head athletics coach. To demonstrate SFU’s province-wide interest in athletics, he developed and conducted the first two BC High School Track and Field championships. In 1972, Steen was a coach for Canada’s track and field team at the Olympic Games in Munich.
Steen’s legacy as an administrator began in 1969 when he became the first executive director of BC School Sports. Among his achievements over the next seventeen years was coordinating 26 provincial championships, significantly increasing the number of regional associations and sport commissions, and starting fundraising events such as the ‘Milk Run.’
In 1992, Steen began an association with Blind Sports that has included serving as president and athletics commissioner to the provincial body as national athletics commissioner. Steen remained an active coach, as national and provincial athletics coach for Blind Sports as well as a member of the coaching staff for three Canadian Paralympic teams (1992, 1996, 2000) and as head coach of the West Coast Pacers Track and Field Club.