Dexter Janke: the new face of York University football

York lions football 2023 team in action

York University Athletics & Recreation has secured the appointment of Dexter Janke as the 12th head coach in the history of York’s football program.

Dexter Janke
Dexter Janke

A former Canadian Football League (CFL) player and Grey Cup winner, Janke brings a wealth of experience and a champion’s mindset to the role, having served as the head coach of the Westshore Rebels – a Canadian Junior Football League (CJFL) team based in Langford, B.C. – last season. Under his leadership, the Rebels achieved a remarkable 12-1 record, reaching the Canadian Bowl before narrowly losing to the Saskatoon Hilltops.

For his ability to bolster a team’s scoring ability, in 2023, Janke was named the CJFL’s coach of the year. He aims to bring that ability now to the Lions.

“This is a really exciting time,” says the 31-year-old Edmonton native. “We have a great opportunity to reset the standard, come together as a group and bring a lot of pride and excitement to this program.”

Janke’s journey to coaching success began with a notable career in the CFL where for four seasons he played as a defensive back, earning a Grey Cup ring with the Winnipeg Blue Bombers in 2019. Prior to his professional career, Janke honed his skills at the University of Saskatchewan where, as a six-foot-tall, 220-pound running back, he was drafted by the Calgary Stampeders in 2015.

Aside from his accomplishments on the football field, Janke has a diverse athletic background, having competed as a brakeman on Canada’s four-man World Cup bobsleigh team in 2018. His multifaceted experiences have shaped his coaching philosophy, which stresses teamwork, discipline and a relentless pursuit of excellence.

“My exposure to winning environments and high-level coaches prepared me well for this opportunity,” Janke says. “My time as a professional athlete and student athlete provided me with the necessary perspective to relate to our student athletes’ experience.”

York is proud to have him.

“We are thrilled to welcome Dexter Janke to our department and the University,” says Steven Chuang, York’s Athletics & Recreation executive director. “Coach Janke’s core values align with our mission of delivering a world-class student-athlete experience by transforming the lives of everyone that we touch – one Lion at a time.”

Adds athletics director Alex Dominato, “I could not be more excited to announce Dexter Janke as the next head football coach of the Lions. He is a proven winner and leader as a student athlete, professional player and head coach. His ability to bring everyone along for the journey was evident and special to all of our stakeholders.”

Having stepped into his new role as head coach on Feb. 5, Janke hopes to instill a sense of pride and excitement within the York University community. His younger brother, Jacob Janke (BCom ’20), played for the Lions as a York student from 2015 to 2019, so he already has an idea of what is needed to take the team forward. “The York football team,” Janke says, “has a passionate alumni group and strong support from the University. That, along with a young roster, makes this an exciting opportunity.”

His vision extends beyond the gridiron, emphasizing the holistic development of student athletes both on and off the field. His commitment to creating a supportive and inclusive environment aligns with York University’s values, ensuring that athletes have the resources they need to thrive academically and athletically.

“I’m working hand in hand with the coaching staff to make sure we have a solid structure and foundation to build upon,” Janke says. “We have to focus on the structure, on the culture, then the results will come.”