|Joel Ward, Keith Hansen, Trevor Keeper|
Whoops... I guess I just did.
Red Deer College President / CEO Joel Ward and Athletics Director Keith Hansen announced this morning that Trevor Keeper will be behind the bench when Kings Hockey returns to ACAC competition for the 2013-2014 season.
Keeper has a wealth of elite level coaching experience, including as an assistant coach with the Red Deer Rebels from 2003-07. Trevor has also coached the Red Deer Midget AAA Rebels, at the World U17 and U18 championships with Team Canada, and various elite teams with Hockey Alberta. Keeper coached the RDC Queens Hockey team this past season and will maintain those duties for the 2012-2013 season while building the Kings program at the same time.
For Keeper, the task is a daunting one. To build a college men's hockey program from the ground up while also overseeing a women's program at the same time means he'll be busy to say the least. But it's a challenge he's quite looking forward to.
"I relish that," Keeper said when asked about the pressure of making the Kings a contender in relatively short order. "I want to be competitive right off the bat. We have a plan for the first four or five years that we wanna be right at the top of the league."
Hansen echoed those sentiments. He is fully confident that Keeper and his five year plan will have Kings Hockey where RDC wants it to be, at the top.
"There's no doubt in my mind about that. I know Trevor feels the exact same way I do. It is athletics and you play it to win, to be honest with you, and you play it to be as good as what you can be. We're not going into the league just to be a solid team. We want to go in being one of the best teams."
The reincarnated Kings have quite a lofty set of expectations to try and meet. The past program won seven ACAC championships and three national titles.
As you would expect, RDC received quite a number of applications for this particular coaching position. But Hansen has no doubt they've made the right call by staying in-house and hiring Keeper.
"When you hire someone from within, you know them. You know what kind of character they are, what kind of person they are, and what kind of coach they are," Hansen explained. "He fit the bill perfectly. He's a great instructor, a great leader, and I think will be the perfect person to bring the program back.
Keeper says while they will be looking far and wide for the right players for their program, his main focus will be on building around a strong core of local talent.
"The key thing is to build from our Central Alberta base. Six year ago, I coached the Midget AAA's here in town. A lot of those guys are 20, 21, 22 right now. Some of them have expressed interest in coming back already. So that's where we're gonna be starting from."
One thing that definitely works in Keeper's favour when it comes to recruiting is the fact he has an entire year to do it.
"It would be extremely difficult if it was a shorter term. Knowing that I have a year to do it, watching players over the course of the next season, speaking to them, meeting them face to face, talking to their parents even though they're in their early 20's. Try to get some key recruits in, not just open the doors to anybody."
Ward also used this morning's press conference to officially announce that RDC's bid to the ACAC to have Kings Hockey reinstated for 2013-2014 has been approved.
"We're very excited about it," Ward told the local media this morning. "It took a lot of work and a lot of committment by a lot of people to make this happen. But we absolutely believe that bringing back men's [college] hockey to Red Deer is the right thing to do. This is the right time and we're committed to making it work."
The "re-addition" of Kings Hockey also makes RDC the only school to be competing in every single sport in the ACAC, something Hansen takes great pride in.
"We're the biggest athletic program in Alberta now," he explained. "That was always for me a bit of a hole, without men's hockey. Quite honestly, it was a big hole because it's a marquee sport. This fills the hole without taking anything away from any other athletic team. You get stronger when you get bigger and I think this will be fantastic for our program."