There will be no shortage of knowledge when it comes to the coaches standing behind the benches in the new Arena Lacrosse League West Division as the four men tabbed to lead the four teams have in excess of a combined 100 years of experience.
Rod Jensen, Russ Heard, Rob Williams and Tyler Crompton will lead the four respective teams when the ALL West Division begins play next month for their inaugural season.
Russ Heard, 57, has coached since 2001, spending time in the Western Lacrosse Association as the head coach with both Burnaby and New Westminster, as well as in the National Lacrosse League as an offensive coordinator with the Colorado Mammoth. He is also currently the head coach of the Burnaby Lakers Junior A team. He will be assisted by Andy Ogilvie and Blair Bradley with Warren Goss and Troy Dickson serving as the team’s managers.
“This league is a great opportunity for guys trying to get to the next level,” Heard said, adding the league will fill a necessary void in giving these players an opportunity to stay sharp and on the radar of NLL teams.
Rod Jensen, 59, has 40 years coaching experience, including time in the NLL as a head coach (Colorado Mammoth), offensive coordinator (Vancouver Ravens) and defensive coordinator (Calgary Roughnecks), as well as in the WLA with Coquitlam and Langley and in the BCJALL with Delta. He was also the defensive coordinator for Coquitlam when the team won the 2010 Minto Cup.
Jensen still spends his summers behind the bench with Langley in the WLA. Dave Pym and Fred Klomp will serve as Jensen’s assistants while Darcy Dagan is the team manager.
“There is no option out there like this so I think this will be a competitive league,” Jensen said. “I am excited for the players. It keeps their dreams alive and gives an opportunity to reach the next level. I think the players are going to be super hungry.
The 36-year-old Tyler Crompton has spent about 20 years coaching at various levels, including serving as an assistant with Port Coquitlam at both the Junior A and Intermediate A levels. He also coaches a trio of youth teams in Chilliwack, an elite youth travel program and serves as president of the Chilliwack Hawks Field Lacrosse program.
While now retired from playing, Crompton isn’t that far removed from his own playing days, having suited up for Team Finland two years ago at the World Indoor Lacrosse Championship.
“This is a great opportunity for players on the west coast to showcase their talents in a competitive setting and gain some recognition for their efforts,” Crompton said.
Crompton will have Adam Smith and Chase Porter as assistant coaches.
The final coaching staff features Rob Williams with Tewanee Joseph and Yul Baker as assistant coaches while Ryan Williams and Brian Borkowski are the team managers.
Williams is the current head coach of the WLA’s Maple Ridge Burrards and has previously served as an assistant coach in the NLL with the Calgary Roughnecks, as well as with the Iroquois Nationals at the 2019 World Indoor Lacrosse Championship, helping the team win the silver medal.
“I’ve seen firsthand in the NLL what the ALL can do for guys who maybe got overlooked or just needed someone to show them the way,” Williams said. “I jumped at the chance to pass on some knowledge and help these players try to live their dream and get to the next level.”
The head coaches were selected by Rob Buchan, who will serve as the director of lacrosse operations for the ALL West.
Buchan has been involved in the sport as a player, scout and manager and currently serves as the vice-president and general manager of the Langley Thunder senior A and junior A teams, as well as working as a western scout for the NLL’s Buffalo Bandits.
“We are thrilled to have Rob as the director of lacrosse operations for the Arena Lacrosse League West Division,” stated Paul St. John, the president of the Arena Lacrosse League. “Rob brings so much to the role with his experience in the game from his time as a player to working in a managerial role and in a scouting capacity. This versatility makes him a great candidate to take on the role as the director of lacrosse operations.”
Rob joins older brother Ken, who is serving as the commissioner, and Kevin Hill, who is acting in a scouting/management role, in the senior leadership team for the ALL West Division.
“This is exciting to join the team, alongside Ken and Kevin, in helping launch a new lacrosse league here in BC that will give these young players an opportunity to stay sharp over the winter months and help them develop their games in pursuit of their lacrosse goals,” Rob Buchan said.
The coaching staffs will have an opportunity to evaluate the prospective players as Langley Events Centre is set to hold a player combine November 15, 16 and 17. The draft is scheduled for November 20 and registration for players (who must be at least 18 years of age as of December 31, 2021) closes at 11:59 p.m. on November 19. The season is set to begin December 11, 2021 with the four teams slated to play a dozen games apiece, all of them at Langley Events Centre. The season concludes on March 27, 2022 with the championship final.
About the Arena Lacrosse League: Formed in 2017, the ALL is regarded as the National Lacrosse League’s minor league, and with seven Ontario-based teams in the ALL prior to the launch of the ALL West, 15 per cent of the current NLL players have played at least one game in the ALL.
The ALL plays under the same game rules as the NLL, providing high-level competition and exposure that provides NLL management and executives the opportunity to monitor individual progress through game webcasting and statistics. Game evaluations from ALL West coaches will assist in development of players who are currently on NLL practice rosters or are ready for in-season call-ups.
To learn about the league, visit www.arenalacrosseleague.ca.
Photo: Rod Jensen, pictured going over some instructions with his Langley Thunder players during the 2019 Western Lacrosse Association season, is one of four head coaches who will lead a team in the new Arena Lacrosse League West Division beginning next month. Langley Events Centre file photo