Westshore Rebels lose head coach as J.C. Boice focuses on family

/  Times Colonist                                                        

January 7, 2017

In a surprise move, J.C. Boice stepped down as head coach of the Cullen Cup-champion Westshore Rebels on Friday.

The Canadian Junior Football League coach of the year has resigned to “focus on family and further accelerate quarterback development in the United States and Canada,” said Boice, the senior certified quarterback instructor/evaluations co-ordinator and director of business development and strategic alliances for the National Football Academy.

After taking over the Rebels two seasons ago, Boice turned the B.C. Football Conference program around, leading the Westshore club to the 2016 league championship before losing the national title to the Saskatoon Hilltops.

“We’re going to compete. We’re here to compete and we will be very competitive,” he told the Times Colonist at the time of his hiring, back in January of 2015.

He stuck to that promise and, with solid recruiting and the help of associate coach Shane Beatty and the rest of the staff, the Rebels turned it around in 2016.

“I really went into this thinking I wanted to build something long term, and I think we laid the foundation. But the reality of the time away from my family, and with the time away from my business and partners and clients in the U.S., I had to re-evaluate things,” Boice said.

The Rebels are one of very few teams in the Canadian Junior Football League not to financially compensate their head coach. Boice did not say whether this was a factor in his departure.

The decision to step aside does not detract from what Boice accomplished in a short time.

“We worked for it and we did it,” said Boice, who took over a club with just 23 athletes at the time and three coaches. “I guess I’m just a builder by nature. I love the challenge and the reward of a build. I greatly valued my time with the Rebels and I’m proud of what we did. Some very talented and very determined people joined me in turning this organization around for this great Westshore community.”

Beatty would seem to be the favourite to replace Boice at the head coaching position. But on Friday, he said he had not discussed any such offer and was still trying to get over the fact that Boice had stepped down.

Boice said that should the need arise, he would consider a return to the sideline.

“Myself and our entire Rebels coaching staff was 100 per cent volunteer,” he said. “We are the only staff in the CJFL that coach without compensation. That commitment brought us all very close together, and I am very proud of the work they put in and the job they did. As the head coach, I was just the tip of the spear.

“I have done my job to the extent that the Rebels have stabilized and should continue to climb.”

A big reason for Boice’s departure is to spend more time with his wife, Janine, sons Court (who is at the University of Alberta) and Landon, and daughters Karter, Brook and Jordan. Jordan recently had surgery after facing serious and challenging health issues.

“I’ve learned that life is very precious and I want to spend more time with her, and my little boy Landon is growing up fast and I don’t want to lose any more moments with him. It’s just time to build on my family,” Boice said.

Rebels president Doug Kobayashi and vice-president of operations Jonathan Poppitt will begin the process of finding a replacement.

“It was a big reflection in his life,” Kobayashi said of Boice’s daughter’s illness. “He was a hard-working guy over the past two years, dedicating his time to the Rebels. He’s put so much energy and time and dedication toward this.

“When something like this happens … I told him I know what I would do. Life is short and he has a large family, and that’s the most important thing that you have to look after. I think he’s made the right decision. It’s going to hurt us a lot, but it’s the right thing for him.”

As for finding a replacement, Kobayashi said: “I want to run and get the best possible person. Hopefully, it’s someone locally.”

Kobayashi, the former president of the Westshore Chamber of Commerce said the club will likely have to look at compensating a coach in the future, which might keep someone like Beatty in the organization.

Said Boice: “I have strongly encouraged my assistant head coach, Shane Beatty, to apply for the head coaching position. And I have encouraged Jonathan and the board to retain Beatty and the remainder of the staff we assembled over the last two seasons. Coach Beatty and our staff have brought tremendous passion, commitment and skill to the Rebels organization.”

Said Beatty: “J.C. was so good to work for. No one has talked to me yet. I would definitely have an interest, absolutely. Coaching with him was awesome. Look at what we accomplished. It was a phenomenal experience.”

© Copyright Times Colonist