Blake Draper (No. 82) was one of several veteran players exploring other options once popular head coach Adam Smith was let go. But new bench boss Jason Quinter persuaded the all-time Husker great to stay and play a role in what Quinter hopes will be a speedy climb to competitiveness.

Coach Q fights to restore Husker harmony

Few head coaches have taken on a job in worse circumstances than Jason Quinter did when he became the Valley Huskers head coach last fall.

Eric J. WelshBlack Press

Few head coaches have taken on a job in worse circumstances than Jason Quinter did when he became the Valley Huskers head coach last fall.

Quinter replaced Adam Smith, whose services weren’t retained after a winless 2015 season. Smith didn’t guide the Huskers to many wins during his two year run, but he was popular among the players.

They were in open revolt as Quinter assumed command.

“Right after I took over, we had a meeting in the change-room with just me and the players, and I said. ‘Just tell me how you feel,’” Quinter recalled. “And it was an hour of yelling and screaming, discontent and disgust and every other conceivable emotion you could think of.”

For the next few weeks Quinter had several ‘testy exchanges’ with players who wanted out.

“A lot of them were adamant about wanting to go and I was adamant about them not going,” Quinter said. “For some, it took three or four months to get them to come around.”

Quinter admits there were times when he would get off the phone and wonder what he was doing.

But every time he had negative thoughts, he remembered that first meeting.

Unpleasant as it was with all the yelling and screaming, he remembers feeling hopeful because the players cared.

“I saw some positives that led to me to believe we could make a change and do it quickly.”

Quinter got veterans like Blake Draper, Brendan Kohls and Jesse Deering back into the fold and took a deep breath.

Crisis averted.

Then he turned to recruiting.

Pitching the Husker program has been a HUGE problem. How do you sell a prospect on playing for a program that averages between 0-1 wins a season?

“We brought out two kids from Calgary who come from one of the most storied programs in Canada (Notre Dame), just to see what’s going on,” Quinter said. “Once they got here they saw what Chilliwack looks like — the environment and the stadium.”

“They started to see that it’s not bad, and then they asked, ‘So why have these guys been so bad for so long?”

“And that’s where you get into the honesty about what’s existed with the program and what’s going to be changed to make it better.”

Quinter didn’t try to sugar-coat the win-loss record.

What can you say about four wins in six years?

He sold them on the idea of being in on the ground floor of a fast-track rebuild.

Both players bought into it and signed.

Which is great.

But winning one battle doesn’t win the war, and what about financial resources?

Each of Quinter’s predecessors said it was difficult out-recruiting richy-rich teams like the Okanagan Sun and VI Raiders.

Occasional victories might be possible, but it’s long been felt that BCFC heavyweights can get who they want through sheer financial clout.

“It doesn’t cost anything to get on social media and create relationships with players,” Quinter countered. “You simply have to be active and adamant about doing it and follow up on it.”

Without leaving the province once, Quinter said he added 20 out-of-province players at spring camp — kids hailing from Alberta, Saskatchewan and Manitoba.

“Fourteen of them are provincial all-stars and all of them are top players,” he said. “I never made a trip to do that.”

“That was simply watching video online, getting to know the kids, talking to parents and coaches and other players. You get referrals from players to other players and it builds.”

Of course, it’s easy to be optimistic in July. Smith was just as psyched about his team the last two years before the rest of the BC Football Conference punched them in the mouth.

Quinter understands the skepticism from Husker fans and knows it permeates his own locker room.

“I know some of the kids still believe we’re going to lose, especially the ones who’ve been here for two or three years,” Quinter said. “It’s going to be a progressive change that’s not going to happen overnight, and I need to earn their trust so they understand that what I’m telling them is not BS.”

Quinter is dead serious when says he is targeting a playoff spot, and he’s not afraid to throw it out there.

“We’ve got kids we feel can elevate this team quickly, and by supplementing what we already had I think the process will go smoother than I originally thought,” the coach said. “We’re still viewed as the bottom feeder in this league and that’s fine.”

“I want them to think they’re going to come in here and roll right over us.”

“We’ll see what happens when we get on the field, but I feel we can compete with anybody.”

The Huskers get a big test right out of the gate when they host the defending BCFC champs.

The Sun will be in Chilliwack July 23 for a 7 p.m. kickoff at Exhibition Stadium.

Just Posted

Enrolment, EA increases make for no surprises in updated school district budget

The budget reflects changes that were made after recieving provincial funds in December

Agassiz Community Gardens hoping to find new home at old McCaffrey school

The society has been looking for a new location since its previous gardens were sold in October

Kent looking to replace Ferny Coombe pool with indoor facility

The facility being built is dependent on grant funding from the province and federal government

Escape room brings ‘out of the box’ activity to Agassiz

AESS alumni and teacher developed the concept to bring teamwork-based entertainment to the town

Prices still rising, Chilliwack real estate back in balanced territory

Local market is steadier compared to points west with higher increase in average sale price

B.C. opioid crisis to get same world-renowned treatment approach as HIV/AIDS

A program that focuses on treatment as prevention will roll out Jan. 17

Manure company causing ‘toxic’ stink at Abbotsford school seeks permit

Property across from King Traditional Elementary cannot operate manure facility without permit

Vancouver city council endorses free transit for youth

Mayor Kennedy Stewart will write a support letter to TransLink

In limbo: Leftover embryos challenge clinics, couples

Some are outright abandoned by people who quit paying storage fees and other couples struggle with tough decisions

BREAKING: Jury finds man accused of killing B.C. girl, 12, guilty

Twelve-year-old Monica Jack disappeared in May 1978 while riding her bike along a highway in Merritt, B.C.

B.C. government extends coastal log export rules for six months

Premier John Horgan promises reform at loggers’ convention

Lower Mainland pup poisoned by pot on dike

Five-month-old River was unable to walk.

B.C. pair accused of ‘honour-killing’ in India to be extradited within days

Malkit Kaur Sidhu and Surjit Singh Badesha are accused of conspiracy to commit murder

Netflix rejects request to remove Lac-Megantic images from ‘Bird Box’

At least two shows on Netflix’s Canadian platform briefly use actual footage of the 2013 tragedy

Most Read