It’s difficult for any coach to watch his team lose two straight matches to start the season.
It’s that much more frustrating when you can’t do anything about it.
That was the case for Brandon University Bobcats coaches Lee Carter and Russ Paddock, who were limited to spectator status due to the ongoing BU faculty strike as Carter’s women’s volleyball team and Paddock’s men’s squad both opened the Canada West conference regular season by going 0-for-2 in Winnipeg last weekend.
With no end in sight to the longest strike in BU history, it appears Carter and Paddock will again be on the outside looking in when the Bobcats battle the Winnipeg Wesmen on Thursday in Winnipeg and Friday in Brandon.
"It’s extremely tough," Carter said. "Everybody, all the coaches, want to be with our teams and we want to contribute in every way possible, but right now everything is a little bit out of our control and we just have to see where it goes ...
"It’s a concern, but I have a lot of faith in the team and the people that are around the team right now and they are going to get them ready to do the best we can and hopefully this (strike) gets settled between the two sides fast."
BU’s three full-time education faculty members — Carter, Paddock and men’s basketball coach Gil Cheung —are not running any practices or coaching any games as the strike continues, although part-time coach Ritchie Jacobson, who is not a BU professor, is continuing to coach his team.
"All I am going to say is my contract runs until the end of the season and I am honouring my contract and I respect the negotiations that are going on with the rest of the folks," said Jacobson, as he continued preparations Tuesday for the Bobcat basketball teams to open their regular season this Saturday and Sunday at the BU gym against the Calgary Dinos.
Carter had to watch his Bobcats squad — which is not currently ranked nationally — from the stands last weekend at the University of Manitoba. In his ongoing absence, the team is being run by assistant coaches Becky Young, Ashley Creighton and Sara Grona, all former Bobcats, along with longtime local coaches Derek Richels and Kevin Neufeld.
"It’s like having an injury, that’s how we discussed it with our players," Carter said. "You can’t talk about who’s not there, you’ve got to deal with who is and what is. So the players will go and prepare and the coaches will do their best to prepare."
The BU women do hope to get a boost this weekend with the projected return of left side Niki Friesen, a rookie from Brandon who sat out last weekend due to a minor knee injury.
Meanwhile, Paddock’s men’s team expects to again be without Australian left side Craig Lowe, whose nagging knee issues have flared up to the point where he will be taking a few weeks off.
Without Paddock on the bench, Grant Wilson and fellow assistant coaches Mark Geekie, Warren Birch and Pat Thompson will continue to run the team this week.
"We do have a tough start to the schedule, so (the strike) kind of exacerbates the situation a little bit," Paddock said. "But our record, coming out of the first three, four weeks, yeah, it will be tough not to be there for whatever the results are."
The Bobcats have slipped from No.8 to No.9 in the CIS national rankings this week after being swept by the third-ranked Bisons.