The Vancouver Island Raiders have a new head coach as they head into the 2019 off-season.
The Raiders have promoted Curtis Vizza, who was offensive line coach, to the head coaching position.
Vizza takes over from Doug Hocking, who stepped down in order to spend more time with his family, according to a club press release.
“I care [about] and love this team that’s done so much for me,” Vizza told the News Bulletin on Tuesday morning. “And to be in the position I am to help other young men, other coaches perform, to be part of the community, I couldn’t be happier.”
It’s a new leadership team for the Raiders, as defensive line coach Josh Williams has taken over as general manager, with former GM Glenn Cook’s focus on vice-president and director of football operations duties.
Williams said Hocking’s resignation was a “big shocker” and said the organization felt it wasn’t in position to take its time with a lengthy process to hire a head coach.
“We wanted to give our players an answer right away … We’ve got to recruit the guys we currently have back, immediately,” Williams said. “We wanted to show them, we’re set up, we’re not slowing this ship, we’re still moving forward and we need you guys to move forward with us.”
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Here's Curtis Vizza on the front page of the @NanaimoBulletin 10 years ago this week. Yesterday he was officially announced as the new head coach of the @ViRaiders… https://t.co/4qQjAGmkbf #Nanaimo pic.twitter.com/BjB55jeuaV
— Greg Sakaki (@BulletinSports) November 13, 2018
The GM said he’s “more than confident” with the new Raiders’ coach. Vizza was a member of all three of the Raiders’ national championship teams between 2006-09, graduated from VIU with a degree in physical education and education, and teaches at John Barsby Secondary School.
“He’s a great teacher and that’s kind of what a coach is – you’re teaching football. And he’s a professional in that. So I think it’s going to be a pretty easy transition for him to be able to develop a lot of our players into phenomenal athletes,” Williams said.
Vizza also sees some parallels between teaching teens and coaching young men.
“We’re about competing and winning and putting the best football team forward, but there are a lot of life skills involved with it,” he said. “It goes hand in hand with being an educator. It’s about the kids, about helping people grow and get better.”
As far as X’s and O’s, Vizza said the Raiders’ game plan next season will be based around the talent on the roster.
“It’s going to come down to leveraging our strengths as players and as a coaching staff and knowing where we’re really good and where we can improve,” he said.
Both Williams and Vizza expressed their thanks to Hocking and said they benefited from his coaching and guidance and said it will continue to be felt in the organization.
“Some of those same concepts and attitudes, I’m definitely keeping around,” Williams said. There was a mentality that he brought that was pretty amazing for this organization. We’re not changing the Raider way.”
They’re excited about an opportunity, now, to see where that Raider way will lead.
“The season hasn’t technically finished in the CJFL, but our 2019 focus is really strong right now,” Vizza said. “We’ve lit a fire – lots of change and things happening.”