KAMLOOPS — When the Thompson Rivers University WolfPack men’s volleyball team hits the court in September, they will have a new man at the helm.
Head coach Pat Hennelly has decided to take a year’s leave for professional development. While he is away, former WolfPack setter Mike Hawkins will take over as head coach.
Hawkins has spent the last two seasons as assistant and then head coach with the Lethbridge College Kodiaks of the Alberta College Athletic Conference.
“Pat contacted me last October, “said Hawkins who will have the ‘interim’ title as head coach. “ We had been chatting since then.”
After completing his university playing eligibility with the WolfPack, Hawkins spent two years as an assistant coach with TRU under Hennelly. The second half of the final year he was assistant coach of the TRU women’s program with now head man Chad Grimm. He says it will be interesting coaching the men’s team. “I still know a lot of the guys like Jordan Foot and Daniel Eikeland Rod. I’ve also followed the progress of the team since I went to Lethbridge. I still have a lot of pride being a part of this program. For me it is like I pressed ‘pause’ on my TRU career and I am restarting it now.”
Hawkins describes his coaching style as a hybrid of coaches he has had. “I have had coaches like Shawn Sky at Mount Royal and Pat here who are very emotional and intense. But I also had a coach in Lethbridge in Ian Bennett who is quiet and rational thinking during matches. I have taken bits and pieces of each guy and added my own personality. I am light hearted guy but I am very competitive.”
He said the two years in Lethbridge has made him a more mature coach. “I wasn’t sure how I was going to react last year as a head coach since I was an assistant there the year before. It was a big jump but I learned that staying true to your personality. People respond to you if you act the way that you are. Pat has the respect of his players because he is exactly what you expect him to be. He doesn’t try to be someone else. I learned that and my athletes responded to that.”
At 26, Hawkins will be the youngest head coach in the Canada West. Former teammate and current WolfPack assistant Matt Krueger will remain with the program. “We are both excited about putting our input on the team and the program.” Other assistants Jake Schmidt and Spencer Reed are likely to return if their schedules permit.
He will be coaching the Team Alberta U-18 men’s team and will coach with Canada’s Youth National selects team in Kingston, Ontario in July.
“With Mike coming in it is great for us, “said Athletics and Recreation Director Ken Olynyk. “ He is someone who has been in our program and understands how we do things. He has a positive relationship with Pat. He will do a very good job over the next year. Pat won’t be physically gone the whole time but he will be away from the day to day operations. Mike will look after the competitive program from September to hopefully a berth in the CIS Nationals.”
”I’m taking a leave to complete my masters,’ says Hennelly who has directed the WolfPack program since it entered Canada West and CIS in 2005-06. “It’s fortunate a great young coach like Mike is available to take over the program. There are now two former assistants in Mike and Chad Grimm (TRU women’s head coach) coaching here. I have had some excellent assistants and Mike is certainly one of the best. It has been a great 11 years and it is a good time to step back and do some professional and educational development”.
Hennelly will still do the bulk of the recruiting but Hawkins will have a major input as well. “Over the past two years I have helped Pat when he asked me my opinion on guys. I want to be as active as possible in the administrative side of the job. I want to get the holistic approach to being a head coach-not just being the guy who plans practice. Recruiting, the media stuff and community stuff, I want to do it all.”
Hawkins has already arrived in Kamloops and has been running practices with the WolfPack’s returning players. He plans to move to the city permanently after completing his Masters of Sports and Exercise Psychology degree at the University of Lethbridge. He is close to receiving a National Coaching Certification Level 3. His work with Team Alberta and the National Youth Team will give him the technical requirements for that.
SIDE OUTS: Hawkins record with Lethbridge last year was 13-11. Lethbridge College Athletics Director Todd Caughlin said: “Stepping into the head coaching position with the Kodiaks was a natural for Mike. He took over a program still on a rebuild phase and took it another step forward. Mike handled the position with poise, professionalism and a great work ethic! He had his group buy in to his coaching philosophy and it showed how they did on the court and in the community. Kodiaks Athletics want to wish him the best of luck and he won’t be outworked trying to bring a CIS title to TRU!”
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