Three months after being hired, Ben Macauley will finally have a chance to roll up his sleeves and engage in what he loves most about football—coaching.
The new field boss of the Okanagan Sun will oversee his first spring camp with the B.C. Football Conference team this weekend at the Apple Bowl.
Macauley, who served as an assistant with the Sun for two summers (2012-13), takes over the program from Shane Beatty, who stepped aside in January after three years on the job.
The 30-year-old Macauley returns to the BCFC team after a successful 2015 season at KSS, where he led the Owls to the B.C. high school semifinals.
As the 16th head man in the Sun’s history, Macauley said the right “attitude and effort” from his players will form the basis of his coaching philosophy.
“I want guys with the right attitude to be here, guys who are going to give total, relentless effort,” said Macauley. “It’s less about the talent side, that will come with time and that’s a bonus.
“But if I have guys who are going to give 100 per cent, show effort on every play, those are the guys who I’m going to war with.”
A youth counselor with the Central Okanagan school district, the soft-spoken Macauley will undoubtedly carry a different demeanour into the job than his predecessor, the intense and often irascible Shane Beatty.
Macauley also plans to bring a meticulous approach to the field.
“I like to be well-organized as far as practises go, things will be well-scripted and we’ll be efficient,” said Macauley who will head up a revamped coaching staff. “I’m probably not going to be as in-your-face or loud as some other coaches might be, I have some assistant coaches who will take care of that.
“I like to find out what intrinsically motivates a player and not have them rely on me,” he added. “I think you’ll see real positive vibe around the team, and hoping that the team is a reflection of the head coach.”
With several players graduating and a handful of CIS signings, Macauley and his coaching staff will have some significant holes to fill on the roster this season.
Gone are the likes of all-Canadians Brennan Van Nistelrooy, Kyle Kawamoto, Cliff Crews, Cord Delinte, Thomas Huber, and possibly Jonas Gering.
Add in the departures of Cam Bedore, Josiah Joseph, Kyle Patchell, Wes Geisler, Kory Ngata and Keagan Hughes and there will be plenty of job openings on the 2016 edition of the Sun.
Still, thanks to the depth of last year’s team, Macauley there will be plenty of returning talent and leadership to draw on.
“The level of guys coming back is impressive,” Macauley said. “Matt McConnell, Jamie Turek, Jeremy Williams and Michele Vecchio…those are high level players who are not going to miss a beat. Their leadership is going to come in handy.”
With as many as 95 players expected for spring camp, Macauley is excited about the potential of several newcomers who could well make an impact on the 2016 Sun.
Among them is running back Brenden Hansen from the University of Calgary, quarterback Lorenz MacDonald from Halifax, and Mt. Allison receiver Kian Ishani.
As far as the 2016 season is concerned and the expectations that come with coaching the defending B.C. champs, Macauley said “it’s going to be a process and a journey and we’re going to make mistakes. I’ve made some already that I’m doing my best to learn from.
“Being that the program has had years and years of success, there’s a certain expectation or a standard,” he continued. “Certainly there will be pressures coming from outside, but it’s better for me to ignore that stuff, we put enough pressure on as a coaching staff.
“As for myself I have plenty of pressure coming from within, I’ll try and do things the right way, the best I know how.”
Spring camp sessions are set for Friday night, Saturday and Sunday at the Apple Bowl practise field, with a scrimmage set for 11:30 a.m. Sunday.
Macauley and the Sun will open the BCFC regular season Saturday, July 23 in Chilliwack against the Huskers.