The V.I. Raiders will steer their ship in a different course.
Nanaimo’s junior football club fired head coach Brian Ridgeway last week after one season.
The decision was made not because of on-field results, but according to Ridgeway, stemmed from a disagreement between himself and another member of the organization.
“There was just some unfortunate circumstances that arose that made it difficult to continue with Brian and from a business perspective, to maintain the operations of the team,” said Kabel Atwall, club president. “It really came down to that … It was not driven by on-field results, that’s for sure.”
The Raiders went 5-5 in B.C. Football Conference play, then lost their playoff semifinal game. Ridgeway said since the team didn’t win, he’s accountable, but he said his firing is “terribly disappointing.”
“We had a group of guys that really cared about each other, were excited to get to work in the off-season,” he said. “We had a very good thing going. Now that momentum is gone. Now it’s insecurity, unknown.”
He was asked if he was put in a position to succeed, and he said there were challenges, mentioning the limitations of the Comox Field practice facility, and a lack of training staff.
“There was times where there was nowhere near the sufficient levels of resources we needed,” he said. “But … going in I knew I wasn’t going to get everything I needed and this was going to be a very lean year.”
Ridgeway said he will not coach junior football next season. He may consider sponsoring the club in the future or coming back in some capacity. He’s grateful the Raiders gave him the opportunity and he wishes the team success.
“I am disappointed that I don’t get to see it through,” he said. “I put in a lot of work and I was going to put in much more work, because I cared about what this program is, I cared about the community it’s in and I cared about what the players were trying to do.”
Atwall said there is a transition plan, and suggested the Raiders will immediately begin vetting coaching candidates and have “three or four” potential head coaches they would like to interview.
The Raiders president was asked if a coaching change is a setback in the club’s rebuild, but he said with players and assistant coaches returning and the board intact, that won’t necessarily be the case.
“I don’t think it’s going to be a longer transition,” Atwall said. “Without a doubt, if you have a new coach, there’s going to be some changes. But I think [there’s] continuity that’s there now that we didn’t have last year.”