The V.I. Raiders only had to look as far as the next city over to find their new coach.
Nanaimo’s junior football club announced today that Jeremy Conn has been named as head coach.
“It was something meant to be,” said Hadi Abassi, a V.I. Raiders director.
Conn, who lives in Nanaimo, coached Parksville’s Ballenas Whalers to the provincial high school semifinal last week. The 38-year-old has more than 20 years of coaching experience, including at the university and junior level.
Conn helped the Raiders as a guest coach during the teachers’ strike this fall.
“I enjoyed being back around that age level and commitment level,” he said.
Later, he liked what he heard when discussing the Raiders’ coaching vacancy with Abassi.
“Talking to him more about the level of the football and the organization that would be there to support me as the head coach got me more and more excited,” Conn said.
There will be changes moving from high school football back to junior. Aside from different rules, there is also recruiting to be done. Conn said he wants to find guys who want to win and hate to lose.
“I know a lot of the coaches are excited to talk scheme, but first we need to really look at who do we have…” he said. “The first thing we need to do is make sure we’ve got our guys coming back that we’re counting on, and then try to recruit talent that we can then build around.”
The Raiders are coming off a 5-5 season, but Conn said he thinks the team can climb back into contention in the B.C. Football Conference.
“If [veteran players] are coming back and we get some new pieces and new recruits that we are looking to get, I think we can be right back up to the success level that the Raiders are used to and the great tradition they’ve had of winning,” he said.
Abassi thinks the new coach will be able to work well with the Raiders board and other coaches.
“He’s been a fan of the Raiders for a long time and he’s a believer,” Abassi said. “He believes in the tradition we’ve built with Raiders football.”