CALGARY, AB — A void was left when assistant coach Bruce Codd left the Calgary Roughnecks to join the Toronto Rock coaching staff.
The opening drew interest from many coaches.
Including Rob Williams.
“I just heard that Bruce Codd had moved and accepted a job with Toronto and I had been looking for an opportunity to coach in the NLL,” explained Williams. “I had put my resume in a couple times over the years and I guess through experience my resume has gotten better over the last year.”
Last season, Williams took over as head coach of the Maple Ridge Burrards of the Western Lacrosse Association. After a tumultuous start, he helped lead the Burrards to a WLA Championship and place in the Mann Cup.
Although Maple Ridge was unable to win the Mann Cup, Williams believes that the entire experience benefitted him in his journey to coach in the NLL.
“I think the season helped me quite a bit,” Admitted Williams. “Being a head coach helped me grow as a coach, too. So that might have helped show people other sides of me that they haven’t seen before.”
Not long after submitting his resume for the open position, Williams had his interview with general manager Mike Board.
He left feeling good, but was unsure of what would happen.
“I was anxiously waiting,” Williams said. “I was involved in the Mann Cup – I’m the head coach of the Maple Ridge Burrards – so I was anxiously waiting, but I did have other things on my mind to distract me.”
When Williams was informed that he was being offered the position, he jumped at it.
As a player, he spent parts of two seasons (2005-06) in Calgary and he loved the city and the team.
“I played there for a couple of years. I love the fans there, I love the organization, I love the city,” he said. “What better place to be coaching and spend your weekends away. It’s a nice place to be in for the atmosphere and the organization.”
Williams will join Curt Malawsky and Bob McMahon on Roughnecks coaching staff for the 2017 season.
The new Roughnecks defensive coach has known Malawsky for years as the two played on the Vancouver Ravens in 2004.
“Like everyone in lacrosse, I had previous relationship through playing with Curt Malawsky and I’ve met Mike Board a couple times, so there was already a relationship there,” Williams explained.
“I just recently met Bob. I played when he coached and I respect him and what he’s brought to the game.”
In his new role, Williams will organize the Roughnecks defence.
While some coaches bring in new styles and systems, he doesn’t want to rock the boat.
“They have a system established already and I’m pretty good at adapting to that kind of stuff,” Williams said. “I’m not going to veer too far off the track. I might have some suggestions to things I want to do, but I feel like their system is similar to the one I was running in Maple Ridge, so there won’t be much of an adjustment.”
The biggest adjustment for Williams might be learning the talents and tendencies of his players.
But he has had experiences with many of them in the past, which will help.
“The Carnegie’s, through watching them over the years, I have a good idea of what they bring, their capabilities, their leadership capabilities,” he said. “The Harnett’s I’ve coached against over the past 5 years, so I know what they bring to the table. The intensity, I just love the way they compete. I’m very familiar with them. [Curtis] Manning is very good, fast, big athlete, smart guy. Garrett McIntosh I coached in Maple Ridge. Another big, strong, athletic guy.
“I’m really looking forward to working with all of these guys.”
The work will begin soon.
While he may be celebrating his hiring tonight, it won’t last long.
The new assistant coach will be hoping on a flight this Saturday to go to Toronto, ON, for the NLL Combine and Draft. He will join Board and the coaching staff to discuss the plan of attack heading forward.