Brandon University begins the search for a new permanent men’s volleyball coach today, and it may not have to look far for a prime candidate.
BU athletic director Russ Paddock confirmed Wednesday that he will not return as Bobcats men’s volleyball coach, after stepping aside for the 2012-13 season to concentrate full-time on his A.D. duties. In his place, the Bobcats hired longtime Brandon teacher and coach Grant Wilson as interim coach for a season, and Wilson said he will strongly consider applying for the permanent job.
"I think there’s really no harm in applying, right?," said Wilson, who will lead the Bobcats into the Canada West Final Four this weekend in Edmonton. "It’s been a good experience and I’ve enjoyed my time working as the head coach, but I certainly need to see all the facts and weigh all the details out and make a decision from there. … Once our season is over, I can reflect back on what happened and look ahead to the future and make the best decision that I can."
In Paddock’s absence, Wilson guided the Bobcats — ranked eighth in the country — to a solid season with a 13-9 record and a sixth-place finish in the highly competitive Canada West conference before upsetting the sixth-ranked Saskatchewan Huskies on the road in the league quarter-finals last weekend in Saskatoon. Wilson will lead the Bobcats into the Final Four this weekend against top-ranked Alberta, third-ranked Trinity Western and seventh-ranked UBC, with the top three teams earning spots in nationals this year.
While taking on the full-time role intrigues him, Wilson said he won’t make a final decision on whether to apply for the job until the season is over.
"My focus has really been on trying to make our team as competitive as we can be this year and to chase recruits to make it better for years down the road and really that’s all I’ve really thought about," he said.
Wilson, who took a year’s leave of absence from his teaching position at King George School, holds a masters degree that would fill the academic requirement for the tenure-track position. He also has extensive experience, coaching at the high school and college ranks with Assiniboine Community College and serving as Paddock’s right-hand man in an assistant coaching capacity since the BU program began in 2005 before taking on the head coaching duties this season.
For Paddock, it was a tough decision to not return to the coaching ranks, in favour or remaining as full-time A.D.
"In some respects it was (difficult)," said Paddock, a 46-year-old former Canadian Olympian and Oak River native who guided the Bobcats to silver and bronze medals at nationals in his seven seasons as head coach. "Certainly I put a lot of effort into building that program and I would like to think I did a reasonably good job and I think we have a pretty strong core of players returning for next year. So in that respect it’s a little bit hard to step away. But I guess for a combination of reasons, from family to enjoying aspects of the A.D. job, it seems like the right thing to do."
Paddock, who served as both coach and athletic director in 2011-12 before handing over coaching duties to Wilson this year, has spent the bulk of this season overseeing the BU athletic department’s move into the new $25-million Healthy Living Centre.
While the search will officially open today, Paddock would like to see a permanent coach in place by the end of next month.
"We would like to have it all concluded by the end of March, so essentially in the next six weeks," he said.