One thing is certain about the Westshore Rebels. This is a football club that doesn’t let the grass grow under its feet – over and above the fact the team plays on artificial turf.
Changes to personnel and the coaching staff haven’t dented the Rebels’ B.C. Football Conference record – they’ve gone 2-8 the past three seasons. Among the things that have improved the past two years is the club’s reputation as a place to play, and the shedding of its label as a home for entitled athletes.
The club’s upward trend was witnessed this week when Rebels head coach and general manager J.C. Boice confirmed that Shane Beatty, former head coach of BCFC champion Okanagan Sun, was moving to the West Shore to be a part of the Rebels coaching staff.
“I could not be happier … he is a fantastic coach,” Boice said Thursday. “He knows the game extremely well, is highly competitive and really loves kids.”
Beatty, who won the BCFC coach of the year award the past two seasons and won the 2015 Canadian award after leading Okanagan to the Canadian Bowl, will serve as assistant head coach, strength and conditioning coach and director of player development. The former Victoria Payless linebacker (he played here in 1988-89 before joining the Sun) and the Kelowna-based Sun are said to have parted company by mutual agreement.
“I’m extremely excited to get these kids going; we’re going to turn this place around and we’re going to become number 1,” Beatty said in a YouTube video posted by the Rebels after the announcement. “I haven’t been this excited in three years since I left the United States.”
The new board of directors, led by new president Doug Kobayashi, who is also West Shore Chamber of Commerce board president, played a big part in convincing Beatty that Langford was the place to be.
“After meeting with the Rebels president, I am 100 per cent certain we are in good hands,” he said. “It’s time to rock the Rebel Red!”
For his part Boice, who last fall was named GM on top of his coaching duties, likes the “huge change in vision and direction” of the club.
“I’m really excited with the new board and the continuity we’re creating,” he said. “The new board has a strong business acumen.”
A new arrangement sees Boice overseeing football operations while Kobayashi directs the business and sponsorship end of the club’s activities.
From a football perspective, the team is poised to have its best recruiting class ever, Boice said, with a number of players set to commit to the Rebels on June 1, national signing day.
And a new partnership with PISE in Saanich will see the club locate its strength and conditioning centre there, alongside the various national team sports programs. During the off-season last year, the coach spoke of the dream to create a dedicated Rebels workout space. “I’m excited to grow that partnership.”
More than 40 players are eligible to return for 2016 and many of them, as well as some newcomers, are in town getting a head start on their conditioning – at this time last year barely 20 were doing winter workouts together, Boice said.
Also, a new football specific athlete development program designed by Boice and Beatty to prepare younger players will start March 1 in Victoria and on the West Shore.
For the Rebels, it’s about making moves forward and upward and being prepared to do what it takes to win football games now and down the road.
“Our goal is to win a national championship,” Boice said, acknowledging that may not be realistic for a couple more years. “With the coaching changes and other things we’re doing, our expectation is to compete for a BCFC title this year.”
For more information about the Rebels, visit westshorerebels.ca.