Few teams can claim to have begun a programme with an inaugral season as successful as that of UCL Emperors last year.
Fresh out of the gates from their affiliation year they won 6 of their 8 games, shutting out the opposition completely on 3 separate occasions and confounding playoff expectations by eliminating the higher seeded Canterbury Chargers in the first round. Yet their success was at times shadowed by disaster; losing 62-2 against the Southampton Stags and 34-5 to the Brunel Burners, who would go on to burn them yet further in the playoff semi-finals 41-0. Going into next year it is clear that the UCL Emperors will need to find a way of maintaining their high level of play consistently against good and bad teams alike. Yet with their Head Coach Nik Maxey leaving on good terms for personal reasons it is unclear how easy this will be.
Perhaps it is with this in mind that the emperors have set about beefing up their coaching staff this off-season. Their successful Defensive Coordinator Paul Holmes and Defensive Line Coach Leon Green, to whom their defence owes so much, will now find themselves backed by a wide array of new coaches.
Here’s a who’s who of the Emperors new staff:
Head Coach – Sean Holler
Coach Holler is an experienced Canadian 3A high school head coach with a long history of success. He is also an ex-university and adult league football player. Most recently, he won overall MVP, defensive MVP and the City University Full Color Award for his success at City University. He is also the only City Sentinel to ever be invited to a team Great Britain camp. He has also played for the Kent Exiles, coordinated for the London Hornets, and works regularly with the Jacksonville Jaguars, LA Rams and other NFL organizations to promote the game of football in the United Kingdom.
Offensive Coordinator/QB Coach- Darren Frank Jr.
Coach D.J. Frank most recently played Quarterback for City, University of London’s American Football team in 2016 where he was awarded the Coaches’ MVP. Prior to coming to the U.K., Coach Frank played Quarterback for the York University Lions (CIS) from 2009-2012 where he was named the team’s Rookie of the Year in his first season. He returned to coach Quarterbacks and held a role as an offensive assistant with the York University Lions football program from 2014-2016. Coach Frank has been involved with the York Region Lions / Markham Raiders in the OVFL for varsity football over the past 7 years and was named the league’s Coach of the Year in 2012. He also coached Bill Crothers Secondary School in Canada to their first regional Championship in 2014 where he was the Offensive Coordinator and Quarterbacks coach.
Defensive Line Coach- Johnson Nwamma
Johnson is a Coventry University Jets hall of famer and a London Hornets defensive end. In 2015, he won the 2A conference with the Jets and he also has previous coaching experience with the Hornets.
DB/WR Coach- Keaton
Born in San Antonio, Texas and raised in Modesto, California, Keaton started playing football at 10 years old. After an incredibly successful high school career, Keaton went to Fort Hays State University to play cornerback and Humbolt State University to play slot receiver. He has also coached high school football in California and most recently played at a very high level for the London Hornets.
LB Coach- Stephan Rohan
Coach Rohan began his playing career with the London Blitz, but has most recently found success as a captain with the London Hornets. He also has University coaching experience and is looking forward to continuing his tenure with UCL as the linebackers coach.
Strength and Conditioning Specialist- Edward Valdez
Eddie started training for sports and American football in 2005 when he first started playing American Football. And since has trained both high school and collegiate athletes in southern California in a variety of sports ranging from American Football to baseball. Since moving to London Eddie has trained Rugby players and semi professional American Football players on an individual basis.
Mental Strength and Conditioning Specialist- Dan Jackson
Dan was drafted pick 53 in the 2003 AFL draft to the Richmond Tigers. He played 156 games over 11 years before retiring in 2014 with a year left on his contract. He also won the clubs Best and Fairest award (MVP) in 2013 and came runner-up in 2009. He completed a bachelor of Commerce from the University of Melbourne part time during his career and was also on the board of the AFL Players Association and a member of the Tigers’ leadership group for 6 years. He is now in the process of starting a performance development company focused on helping young athletes and other performers, build the right foundations for their future success. Most recently Dan has been contracted by a number of elite NCAA football programs to help their athletes build resilience and maintain confidence in stressful situations