Novell Thomas has always wanted to have an opportunity to coach at the Canadian Interuniversity Sport level and teach.
He now has that chance.
Thomas was officially named as the new head coach of the Brandon University Bobcats women’s basketball team Thursday evening.
“Those are two things that have always appealed to me,” said Thomas, who signed a five-year contract. “My first college coach, Kevin Hanson, who’s now the (men’s) coach at UBC, did both. He was the head coach and taught as well and that combination always appealed to me. When this opportunity came up, I figured this is exactly what I want to do.”
Thomas will take over as the Bobcats’ head coach, replacing Ritchie Jacobson, on March 23.
Jacobson has been filling in as interim coach for the last year and a half after Jaime Taggart left the team midway through the 2009-10 season due to medical reasons.
Acting athletic director Russ Paddock said it was a pretty easy decision to hire Thomas, even though he has been coaching at the high school level the last few seasons while working as an associate producer for Interactive Entertainment, a subsidiary of Electronic Arts Canada.
“Novell just has a really great blend of experience in basketball, both as a player and a coach,” Paddock said. “He knows basketball at a high level. He’s been a head coach at the college level and assistant coach. He played on the national team and he’s a member of the Basketball B.C. board.”
As excited as Thomas is to take over as the Bobcats’ head coach, he knows there is a lot of work ahead of him. The team didn’t have full-time coach recruiting last season due to Taggart’s departure and it has lost its last 41 conference games. The Bobcats’ last win came at home against the Calgary Dinos on Feb. 5, 2010.
Thomas hopes to bring in a long-term plan that will help turn the program around.
“It’s a program that has struggled and part of the struggle has been the inconsistencies just at the head coaching position,” said Thomas, who will be moving to Brandon from Richmond, B.C. “I feel the athletic department is on the same page as me in wanting to build a winner and establish and build (the program’s) foundation.”
Thomas is not going to wait to get started on putting his mark on the Bobcats. Even though he doesn’t officially start until March 23, Thomas plans to meet with Paddock, whose men’s volleyball team is visiting UBC, this weekend to learn more about the athletic department. He also plans to be in contact with Jacobson fairly soon to learn more about the team and to start recruiting this month.
“A lot of the provincial tournaments and championship tournaments are starting around March, so I’ll start recruiting,” he said. “… Before that, I want to have a staff in place and secure some coaches and get more familiar with the workings of the athletic department at BU and budget and that sort of stuff.
“I’m excited to get started and it’s going to be a long month and a half until it’s official, but I can’t wait until I’m officially on staff there and can start getting things going.”