The UNBC Timberwolves women's soccer team is on the lookout for a new head coach now that the university has given Andy Cameron his walking papers.
UNBC announced Thursday it won't be renewing Cameron's contract and will replace him with an interim head coach.
"Coach Cameron has transitioned the women's soccer program from CCAA to CIS league play as head coach at UNBC, and I thank him for his work with us," said UNBC athletics director Loralyn Murdoch, in a prepared release. "After four seasons of competing in Canadian Interuniversity Sport, Canada's highest level of amateur sport, we felt it was time to seek a new voice and some new direction."
In four seasons in the CIS Canada West Conference with Cameron at the helm, the women Timberwolves won just three games, a combined 3-37-10 record. This past season, the T-wolves went 1-10-3, last in the West Division. Prior to joining the CIS, UNBC played five seasons in the B.C. college league.
"The university has decided to go a different direction and I just hope I've set the stage for them to move the program forward," said Cameron. "I was caught off guard but that's the reality of coaching in CIS and you just deal with it. I've had a good run at it and we'll see whether it's done or it starts up again somewhere else.
"I've been here four seasons and the first season starting out was a huge challenge with them moving up from the college level to the university level. Over the last three years it's been about trying to build a base of players who can build the program and compete and we've sort of set that stage so that whoever comes in after me has a good starting point to be a competitive program."
The 54-year-old native of Charlottetown, P.E.I., was hired at UNBC in June 2012, after more than 20 years of coaching at the CIS level. Before he came to Prince George he served nine seasons as head coach of the University of New Brunswick women's varsity team. He also had head coaching stints at Memorial University in Newfoundland (three years with the women's team) and the University of Prince Edward Island (eight years with the men's team). He also served as a provincial minor soccer technical director in Newfoundland, P.E.I., New Brunswick and Alberta.
While UNBC has a well-established reputation as one of Canada's top small universities, recruiting soccer players remains a huge challenge which, no doubt, contributed to the shortening of Cameron's tenure as T-wolves coach.
"Certainly the recruitment part is a big part of the game anywhere you are and Prince George has its difficulties with that," said Cameron. "But the university is a good small school, with their No. 1 ranking in Macleans, and you build and sell on whatever you can. P.G. is a nice community with good student-professor ratios and you try to sell your program as a competitive and building CIS program.
"Hopefully the players will continue to commit to the program and grow and I'd like nothing better than to see them make the playoffs next year and down the road win a national championship."
Although the T-wolves faltered on the playing field, the players have excelled in the classroom. Collectively, the team finished the 2014-15 academic year with a 3.06 grade point average (on a scale of 4.0) and won UNBC's inaugural Presidential Academic Achievement Award.
"The UNBC community is proud of its athletics department, and I couldn't be more proud of the way the women's soccer team has handled a challenging first four years in the CIS," said Murdoch. "The athletes are role models and give back to their community. We need to ensure that we continue to support and improve our player development and recruitment, as well as the performance of our women's soccer program, both on and off the field."
Cameron is under contract until March 2016. UNBC made its decision to allow more time to recruit a new head coach for the 2016 season and beyond. The team will honour its commitments for exhibition games already arranged by Cameron.
The UNBC men's team lost its head coach just before the season started when Alan Alderson took on a position with the Whitecaps FC London (Ont.) Youth Academy Centre. Steve Simonson replaced Alderson on an interim basis and the T-wolves finished last in the Pacific Division with a 1-10-1 record.