For five years, as an employee and an assistant football coach, Kelowna Secondary School was much like a second home for Ben Macauley.
After a year away to help nurture the growth of his newborn son, Macauley is back at KSS, this time as head coach of the Owls’ football program.
The 29-year-old Regina native replaces Shane Sommerfeld, who stepped down after three years at the helm.
“I feel like KSS has sort of become my home, I’ve spent a big chunk of my time there over the years, it’s nice to be returning,” said Macauley, who worked in special education at KSS for five years. “I feel like I’ve developed a relationship with the staff and coaches there and there’s lots of support for football from the administration at the school. I’m excited for the opportunity.”
A former player at Glendale College in California, and later an assistant coach at Robert Usher Collegiate in Regina, Macauley moved to Kelowna in 2007.
The following year he joined the Owls’ program as an assistant to Roy Anderson where he spent the next four seasons.
In 2012 and 2013, Macauley served as an assistant coach with the BCFC’s Okanagan Sun.
In the Owls, Macauley is inheriting a program that has seen player numbers slip over the last couple of years, but on the field KSS has grown into a reputable and competitive team on a provincial level.
Last season, under Sommerfeld, the Owls made history by winning the first playoff game by a Central Okanagan school since football returned to the valley in 2001.
Macauley sees no reason the KSS program can’t continue to evolve and earn respect across B.C.
“We’re the second biggest high school in the province and can really be a flagship school for the sport,” Macauley said. “There’s no reason we can’t be competitive with schools like Terry Fox and Van College. Much credit to Shane (Sommerfeld) for the steps the program has taken. Now we can work on taking that next step.”
KSS vice-principal and Owls’ athletics administrator Mark Steen said based on Macauley’s experience and familiarity with the school, he was a natural choice for the position.
“In the past the kids have loved him and his approach to coaching,” said Steen. “He has a school connection and a staff connection and a lot of colleagues here have worked closely with him. Ben’s a good fit here.”
As for Sommerfeld, the 45-year-old former Owls’ coach decided prior to the start of last season that 2014 would be his last.
After 16 years in coaching, including stints with the Okanagan Sun, Rutland Voodoos and Owls, Sommerfeld decided it was time to step aside to devote more time to his family and career.
Still, Sommerfeld wouldn’t trade in a moment of the experience.
“I loved (coaching), I met a lot of different people and worked with a lot of great kids over the years,” Sommerfeld said. “We made some strides, getting put into the league with Vancouver teams was a big step and so was winning a playoff game.
“Ben has a great reputation, a strong character, and will bring a new energy,” Sommerfeld said of his successor, “so I have no concern…the program is in really good hands.”
With what he calls “some of the best talent in the province on his roster,” including seniors Parker Simson Seth Campbell, Macauley fully expects the Owls to be competitive with the top schools in B.C. in 2015.
As for the coaching staff, there will be some familiar faces for Macauley to work with, as both offensive co-ordinator Mike Wolthuizen and defensive co-ordinator are expected to return next season.