Dennis Kadatz was born to second- generation homesteaders in the Ellerslie area of South Edmonton, AB. He grew up as a farm kid, learning to drive a tractor and riding his pony to the one-room school where he attended grades 1-8. At age 16, Dennis and his younger sister moved to Edmonton so Dennis could attend high school. It was at Scona High School that Dennis was introduced into formal team sports and the leadership of sports mentors Murray Smith and Clare Drake.
His love of sports continued during his university years, playing football for the University of Alberta Golden Bears as well as Edmonton’s junior football team, the Huskies. Athletics also influenced Dennis’ academic pursuits in achieving his B.PE and MA at the U of A and his eventual Ph.D. in Sports Administration at the University of Oregon.
Upon graduation from U of A, 22-year-old Dennis was hired as head coach of the Huskies. He coached his team to two consecutive national championships in 1962 and 1963; the youngest coach to ever do so. This success led to the University of Calgary hiring Dennis in 1964 to develop their football program and serve as the Dinos’ first football coach. In 1966, he became the school’s first Athletic Director, growing the athletic program from being competitive in just a few sports at the conference level to being competitive at the national level in all sports. A leader in sport administration, Dennis became involved international sport, first as a member in the observation team at the 1972 Munich Olympics to inform the 1976 Olympics in Montreal and later as Assistant Chef de Mission for the Canadian team at the 1983 Universiade in Edmonton. When he resigned in 1985 from the University of Calgary to take on a new role in the Olympic movement, he was a tenured Professor and the Associate Dean in the Faculty of Physical Education.
Dennis’ new role was the President of the Calgary Olympic Development Association (CODA), an organization created to help preserve the legacy of the Calgary 1988 Olympic Games. Dennis was chief steward of funds and facilities – ensuring sites like Canada Olympic Park, the Olympic Oval and the Canmore Nordic Centre were viable throughout the year and accessible for all people. Dennis’ incredible vision for athletic organization and his responsible fiscal management resulted in Calgary’s Olympic legacy being one of world-renowned reputation.
Throughout his career, Dennis championed the pursuit of excellence in athletics and was instrumental in the creation of new of athletic awards in the Canadian Interuniversity Athletic Union and was deeply involved in the formation of the Jimmie Condon Scholarships for post-secondary athletes. It is a great honour today that the top male and female athlete awards at the University of Calgary continue to be presented as the Dr. Dennis Kadatz Athletes of Year.
A community supporter, Dennis always found time to serve the community in which he resided. He was Treasurer and President of the Calgary Booster Club, he served as President of the Canada West University Athletic Association, was Secretary-Treasurer of the CIAU and Chair of the Canada West Ski Areas Association.
Dennis’ passing in June 2019 left a large hole in the sporting community of Calgary. His legacy is honoured by being a three-time inductee to the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame and his inductions into the U of C’s Dinos’ Hall of Fame and the U of A’s Sports Wall of Fame.
Dennis’ “Go for it” attitude will be remembered fondly by all the athletes, students, colleagues, community builders and friends who knew him.