Looking ahead to another exciting BUCS season, the Kingston Cougars have announced their coaching roster for the 2017/18 season as they look to make a quick return to the BUCS Premiership South. Head Coach, Nate Wilson has assembled a staff to rival any in the UK coaching ranks and has managed to add two former Uniball Head Coaches amongst their number.
Coach Wilson, in his fourth season as Head Coach, shared
“In spite of last season’s setback on the field, the club has really made great strides off it and we are proud that a programme going into just its sixth season in total has managed to gain the interest of so many coaches in the Britball community and they want to be a part of that.
Part of our commitment to the University is to continue to grow the club from within so it is especially pleasing to see so many of our alumni having made the move to coaching or looking to start their journey as coaches in the game.”
Affirming this commitment, of the 21 strong coaching staff, 11 of the current staff have previously donned the Cougar jersey as a player. One of those re-joining the programme will be Graduate Assistant Running Back Coach, Clark Gardener who played for the club from 2012-14.
“I’m glad to be back within the Cougar programme, one of the biggest things I’ve missed since graduating is the team atmosphere that we had and I’m really enjoying being part of that again.”
Joining him will be William Kodjo Davis (London Blitz and GB Students) as Graduate Assistant Defensive Backs Coach.
Guy Robbins joins the club having played and coached for Berkshire Renegades who last week secured the BAFA Division 2 South title in the Senior leagues. “Guy actually helped out the club back in our Associate year so it is great to have Guy return as part of the staff full time” said Wilson.
The final two hires will be very familiar names to the Uniball world. Joining as Special Teams Coordinator is Chris Denny and Wide Receiver Coach Sean Lewis.
Chris arrives having taken a break from coaching after leading the Brighton Tsunami (now Panthers) to two Division One titles in three years as Head Coach and will be bringing the experience required to make the return to Premiership football!.
“I am really looking forward to working with the Cougars organisation and helping to get them back into the Premiership where they belong. This is a great club, with some great players and some fantastic coaches.”
Sean was Head Coach of the QMBL Vipers in their debut season in BUCS football and went a very creditable 5-1.
“The WR core will definitely benefit from the passion that Sean brings to his coaching!”
Wilson said of the hire.
The club is also delighted to have secured a Strength and Conditioning Coach, Alexander Kharadi, who is available to the players throughout the season.
“The Kingston Cougars American Football program has allowed me, like many others, to develop as an athlete, individual and now coach. It has also provided me the unique opportunity to further my degree and personal work within human and athletic performance with my added S&C role.”
The biggest organisation change sees Defensive Coordinator and Assistant Head Coach, Conan Jal, handing over the coordinating reigns to Junior Hayden. Hayden commented
“I am really honoured to have been given the opportunity to be DC for the university team. Hopefully, I can make a significant contribution to our overall goals for the next 12 months.
Having joined the Cougar organisation a year ago as the DB coach, I have loved every minute of my time here. It’s a great time to be involved in the programme who have a clear vision to develop and promote the sport of American football at all levels in SW London. The relentless work been behind the scene by Nate and Conan is beginning to bear fruit.”
As part of those behind the scenes plans, Jal will continue to focus on a wider role within the club as Head of Football Operations for the university programme and Director of Football for the Cougars American Football programme.
“One of the biggest things that excites me about this programme is the massive potential for growth. Having spent 2 seasons in the Premiership, it really opened our eyes to some of the things that we do really well as a university team and some of the areas we are lacking.”
Alluding to some of the major plans that are in place, Jal went on to say
“Looking at our coaching staff, it is incredible to think that there is so much interest in the sport in our area and we definitely have hired with growth of the programme in mind. We no longer want to be seen as just a university team.”
Indeed, coming off their first year partnership with the Cobham Cougars Youth programme, Jal and Wilson have worked closely with Scott Barlow and the coaching team at Cobham in 2017 and the culmination of that effort was a BAFA Youth National Championship back in August.
“This Youth season has been some of the most fun I have had coaching football and working with Coach Barlow and his team (Coach Nabrotzky and Coach Track) has been great. It is awesome having them as part of the expanded Cougar family.
This is only the beginning really for us. We are close to announcing our 2018 plans in the coming weeks and we have some very exciting news in the pipeline from Primary school to Junior Football to the Women’s game to eventually Senior football down the line. How quickly that happens will be down to the local community and the interest in the game. But it certainly doesn’t look too far in the future.”
Exciting times for the Cougars – we will have to watch this space!