Former Vancouver Island Raiders head of football operations Gavin Lake is the new head coach of the Okanagan Sun.

Sun hire Gavin Lake as 13th head coach

The 39-year-old Lake brings with him experience from the CFL, CIS, BCFC and European football

With previous stops in the Canadian Football League, Canadian Interuniversity Sport and the B.C. Football Conference, Gavin Lake possessed all the credentials the Okanagan Sun were looking for.

Lake, a native of Newmarket, Ont., was named this week as the 13th head coach in Sun franchise history.

The club’s third sideline boss in four seasons, Lake replaces Jason Casey who stepped down last month to take a job at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ont.

A former member of the rival Vancouver Island Raiders’ coaching staff, Lake most recently coached in Europe with the Amstetten Thunder of the Austrian second division.

Despite the large gap in geography, the Sun aggressively pursued Lake to lead the club into the 2012 BCFC season and beyond—including a potential move to the Canada West conference in the future.

Lake was selected from a final list of six qualified candidates.

“We have completed the most exhaustive search for a coach in Sun history and I think we have found a great new leader for our team going forward,” Sun president Paul Carson said in a press release.

“We are very excited that Gavin will be leading the Sun program. He is a proven winner who understands the importance of developing a program dedicated to excellence on and off the field. He has proven himself at the CFL, CIS and CJFL levels and possesses all the qualities we were searching for this position. I am very excited for our program going forward.”

Lake has more than a passing knowledge of B.C. junior football having served as the Raiders’ head of football operations, offensive assistant and running backs coach in 2008 when Vancouver Island, featuring star running back Andrew Harris, won the B.C. and national titles.

In an e-mail from Austria, Lake expressed his excitement about his new position with the Sun.

““I am grateful for the opportunity to get to work for this flagship in the BCFC and CJFL community,” Lake said. “Working hard to make the club, team, alumni and Kelowna community proud of this team is of paramount importance.  Fielding a highly competitive program, with character, intelligent, fast and tough rs who love the game of football is the plan. Building a quality group of assistant coaches, recruiting Sun players, grinding the film, high tempo practices. I’m excited to get to work immediately.”

Prior to Nanaimo, he spent the 2007 season with the CFL’s B.C. Lions as an assistant coach in the defensive secondary.

In 2010, Lake was the offensive assistant coach with the University of Calgary under Blake Nill, and was a vital piece of the Dinos’ run that season to the Vanier Cup final.

In the past year, Lake expanded his football horizons by coaching in Austria where the sport is in the midst of a burgeoning growth phase.

From Sun GM Jay Christensen’s perspective, Lake is the ideal man for the job.

“Coach Lake is exactly what we are looking for to progress the Okanagan Sun both on and off the field,” said Christensen. “He is a great student of the game with a proven ability to develop coaches and players. He brings with him a wealth of experience at the CIS, BCFC and CFL level, garnering impressive reviews from his previous head coaches.”

Lake is expected to arrive in Kelowna in late April.