When Okanagan Sun players take to the field for the 2017 season, they’ll be supported by one of the largest and most versatile coaching staffs in club history.
Since the end last season, head man Ben Macauley has so far added six new coaches to his staff, with as many as two more still to be named.
Between full and part-time positions, there could be as many as 18 on staff by the time the B.C. Football Conference season kicks off in July.
Viewed as one of the club’s deficiencies last season, Macauley said the Sun made a commitment to filling each and every need on the coaching staff.
“We talked as an organization, with Les (Weiss) and Jay (Christensen) about the fact that we needed to address our coaching situation,” said Macauley, now heading into his second season at the helm. “We needed to look at supporting the players better by getting more coaches and more full-time coaches.
“With the manpower we had last season, I think there were times when we were underprepared for games and that showed on the field. That’s something we don’t want to happen again, so we’ve taken steps to ensure that is doesn’t.”
Among the best known of the new additions—and also a returnee—to the staff is Jason Casey, who was the Sun’s head coach in 2011. Casey, who was also an assistant with the Sun for three seasons, will look after the defensive line and special teams.
Also new on defense is linebackers coach Brett Kryskow, a former coach at Henry Wisewood high school in Calgary, and Nick Pankhurst—via the Kamloops Broncos and high school coaching in Florida—who will assist with the defensive backs.
New to the offense is former SFU quarterback Tyler Nickel (passing game coordinator), former Manitoba Bisons running back Foti Lambiris (running game coordinator), and Johannes Van Leenen (running backs), a former head coach at Henry Wisewood.
Returning along with Macauley are Nathan Mollard (defensive coordinator, defensive backs), Michael Botterill (linebackers), Mike Wolthuizen (off. coordinator), Bryan Thiessen (O-line), Ray Wheatley (O-line) and Adam Gambouras (quarterbacks).
Macauley said the club will soon name a new receivers coach.
Based on the experience already in place and the new staff that’s been assembled, Macauley said both he and the players will have ample support in 2017.
“When I was hired, I didn’t want to be a one-man show,” said Macauley. “If I’m not around, for whatever reason at some point during the season, then we know now we have the skills and coaches in place that can deal with any situation.
“You have guys with a lot of experience who have been put in a lot of different spots, guys who aren’t reactionary and are just more prepared to cope with any adversity you might see. We really like the staff we’ve put together.”
Meanwhile, coaches Don Richmond (running backs), Cody Blanleil (offensive assistant) and Andre Knights (defensive backs) will continue to work with the club but due to work commitments, all will serve on more of a part-time or occasional basis.