December 8, 2023

Roughriders’ Kent Maugeri has found a home at both Mosaic Stadiums

Not long after joining the Saskatchewan Roughriders’ coaching staff, Kent Maugeri was reminded that a trap isn’t strictly a running play. 

“We were having troubles with mice, so we had these mousetraps around,” Maugeri says while rewinding to 2016, when the CFL team was in its final season at historic Mosaic Stadium (a.k.a. old Taylor Field). 

“Me and (fellow assistant coach) Merritt Bowden shared an office. It was late one night and we were finishing up. Merritt gets changed and he’s walking back to the office and he steps on a mousetrap.  

“It’s one of those sticky ones, so he’s got these cowboy boots on and he drags this mousetrap all over the place. He had that sticky stuff on his boots for about a week.  

“We still laugh about it all the time.” 

Maugeri is in a jovial mood for other reasons — such as his recent re-signing with the Roughriders, for whom he is the Special Teams Co-ordinator. 

In a profession that is synonymous with instability, Maugeri is a notable exception — someone who has been with the same team for an extended period. 

Among the Roughriders’ current coaches, he is the only holdover from the previous stadium. Suffice to say that his office is much nicer than it used to be. 

“It looked like we were in a closet, back by the weight room,” Maugeri says. “To call it an office would really be a disservice.” 

The surroundings when he arrived in Regina were a contrast to the set-up at Lindenwood University in Lake Charles, Mo., where he coached for eight years before becoming a Roughrider in January of 2016. 

“Our facilities at Lindenwood were great,” he recalls. “Then I got here and I was like, ‘Man …’  

“But then I’d drive by the new building and I thought, ‘OK, I can survive this for a year.’ ” 

The issue with coaching, though, is that it can be a year-to-year proposition. 

Two years — the length of his new contract — can be considered an eternity when you consider how perilous job security can be. 

Now, consider the fact that he has coached for only two teams (the Roughriders and Lindenwood Lions) since 2008. 

“This is my second job like this,” he notes. “I was at Lindenwood University for eight years before getting this one.  

“I learned in my first year that this isn’t common, because our head coach got let go in Week 4 of the season during my first coaching job. I was welcomed to the business that way and then I had to move a couple of times. The last couple of jobs, it has been crazy.” 

Crazy in that it hasn’t been crazy, in terms of habitual relocation. 

“I’m not a ‘grass is greener’ guy,” Maugeri says, “and I’ve just been fortunate.  

“Saskatchewan is a great place. All the things that are important to me are in place with the Roughriders — being around great people, for one. We have that in our building and it makes it easy to show up to work every day.  

“We have tremendous facilities and I think we’ve got a chance to win. That’s what drives me.” 

A driving influence was Sal Maugeri, whose love of the game was contagious. 

“My dad was in construction, but he also coached football,” recalls the Roughriders’ Maugeri, who was born in Mahopac, N.Y., and moved to Daytona Beach, Fla., with his family when he was eight. 

“I started playing when I was eight years old and I just loved the game.  

“My dad coached high school ball when I was in junior high and middle school, so I just remember every Sunday they’d have coaches’ meetings at my parents’ house. 

“Some of the other coaches’ sons would come over and we’d be sitting there watching film, while most kids are out on their bikes or doing whatever. 

“I loved it at a young age, so I knew I wanted to be a player and I wanted to be a coach.” 

A quarterback and defensive back in high school, Maugeri concentrated on playing in the secondary at the collegiate level.  

He spent one season at Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.J., before transferring to Western Connecticut State University. 

“I was always an under-sized player,” Maugeri says. “I was a bit of an overachiever because I was smart and tough and all of those type of things.  

“I tore my Achilles in my junior year and I was never the same. I ended up going back and finishing. I got into coaching right after that.” 

Even while rehabilitating the torn Achilles tendon, Maugeri pursued his goal of becoming a coach. He was part of the staff at Flagler Palm Coast High School in Palm Coast, Fla. 

After graduating from Western Connecticut, he taught and coached at Columbia High School (Lake City, Fla.) and Dunnellon High School (Dunnellon, Fla.). 

“I wanted to be a high school teacher and coach, forever,” Maugeri says. “I did that for a couple of years and then I actually got out of coaching.”  

The next two years were spent as a sales representative with Surface Crafters, which specializes in countertops. 

“I did sales and I thought, ‘You know what? I’ll coach my kids one day. Let me just see what this is like,’ ” he says. 

“It was the best thing I ever did, because I just realized that I’m a coach. I need football and I need to be around it. 

“I love the competition and I love the relationships and everything. The two years I was out of it, I missed the hell out of it.” 

He therefore returned to coaching, albeit at the lowest rung on the collegiate ladder. 

“I was able to get a graduate assistant’s job at Lindenwood,” Maugeri says. “You go from making good money as a sales rep to paying money to work 90-hour weeks as a graduate assistant and not get your master’s, but I was happy to do it.  

“After my first year, I got hired full-time, which was awesome.” 

As a bonus, Maugeri completed his master’s degree in sport management, receiving that advanced-level diploma at Lindenwood in 2010. 

Football-wise, he coached defensive backs and special teams during his time at Lindenwood, where he was also the recruiting co-ordinator. 

While at Lindenwood, he was also introduced to long-time CFL coach Chris Jones. 

“He used to do a free-agent camp in St. Charles,” Maugeri says. “I was one of the pro liaisons, so I got to meet him. He ended up inviting me to guest coach when he was in Calgary. That was in 2011. 

“I didn’t really know what to expect, but I fell in love with the CFL game and the speed and everything like that.” 

After spending four seasons with Calgary, Jones took his expertise as a Defensive Co-ordinator to Toronto and worked with the Argonauts for two years. He was then hired as the Head Coach in Edmonton, where he won a Grey Cup in Year 2 before being courted by the Roughriders. 

Jones was named the Green and White’s Head Coach, Defensive Co-ordinator and Vice-President of Football Operations on Dec. 7, 2015. 

“When he ended up getting hired by the Riders, he offered me an offensive quality control job,” Maugeri says. “I had always been a defensive coach my whole career, so it was a little exciting. 

“I had to take a huge pay cut, but I wanted to see what it was like. It was the best thing I ever did for my career, just to learn the offensive side of the ball and to work in pro sports. 

“It has been great and I’m glad I did it.” 

After spending the 2016 season in the old stadium, Maugeri moved into the new facility with a new job title: Running Backs Coach. He worked in that capacity for three seasons. 

Jones left Saskatchewan early in 2019, when Craig Dickenson took over as the Head Coach and, for a while, retained the title of Special Teams Co-ordinator before beginning the process of handing the reins to Maugeri. 

“When he offered me the chance to assist him in that role, it was a no-brainer for me, because I felt like he was the best in the CFL,” says Maugeri, who was promoted to Special Teams Co-ordinator in 2022. 

“Little details are very important, especially on special teams, because we have all that space (on the expansive CFL field). It’s very important to be very detailed, to work hard, and to hold the guys accountable when you can.” 

That philosophy — which demands toughness and discipline — was ingrained in Maugeri by his father, who was 75 when he passed away on Feb. 11, 2020. 

“I remember being a young kid on the sidelines when my dad was coaching his high school team,” Maugeri says. “We were shining helmets the night before the game and he’d say, ‘That’s not good enough. Re-do it.’  

“It was the same thing with construction. I was going to his construction job site, because he was a mason. I remember cleaning his tools and he would say, ‘Oh, no, that’s not good enough. Do it again.’ 

“There was the work ethic and the details and all that stuff that you learn at a young age. He was a really good motivator and they won a lot of games, so it was fun to watch.” 

Lessons learned from a beloved father are now being passed to another generation — Kent and Cathy Maugeri’s sons (Blaine, 10, and Kaden, 5) and daughter (Kylie, 8). 

“I always say, ‘Good is the enemy of great,’ ” Maugeri says. 

“If I tell players to step on the line, I don’t tell them to step two inches away from the line.”