MOOSE JAW, Sask. — Aaron Schulha pointed out when he was named the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference coach of the year that it was a team award.
Now he’s telling everyone who will listen the exact same thing after being selected the Canadian Colleges Athletic Association coach of the year. Schulha, who is in his seventh season with the Kings after replacing Keith Hansen, received the prestigious award at the CCAA national championship banquet Wednesday.
“It’s nice to be recognized, but as I said at the ACAC banquet and I said during my speech here, that this has everything to do with my players and assistant coaches and I’ll always feel that way. It speaks volumes of the people I work with.”
Schulha played with the Kings during their championship years under Hansen, who he respects as much as any coach he had.
“You can never replace a guy like Keith, and his record speaks for itself, but I take pride in the fact that this is now my program. None of the players Keith recruited are still around. It’s my team and Keith is fully supportive and I still use him as a mentor. But it is nice to build a strong program and to be recognized for that.”
Schulha gives a lot of credit to the veterans, who play a major role in the team’s success over the years.
“If you look at our success it says a lot about the returning guys and of course the recruits,” he said. “Last year we went into the nationals ranked No. 1 and didn’t play well in the final and also had an injury (to middle Chris Osborn) to deal with. But the guys came back which says a lot about them as they wanted to make up for that loss.”
The Kings go into the nationals this season ranked No. 1 and face Quebec champion. St.-Jerome Cherminots, in the opening game today at noon (MST).
It was a bit of a shock to see Quebec come in seeded eighth as usually the Atlantic champion fills that spot.
“We were surprised, but we were following the rankings and we knew that if St Thomas (Tommies) won the Atlantic Conference there was a possibility they would be ranked higher than Quebec,” said Schulha. “I haven’t seen St. Thomas play, but from watching video I believe St-Jerome should be a bit higher, but that’s the way it is. Two weeks ago playing a tougher team in the opening round was good for us when we faced Briercrest. It got us into the championship right away. And we have a mature group who can handle it and get their mind set right off the hop.”
Having watched the Cherminots on video Schulha knows what to expect.
“We know their tendencies but if we look after ourselves we should be fine and then it’s the winner between Humber and CBC and that won’t be easy. Both of them could have won their province.”
The fact there are no easy teams is exactly the way Schulha likes it.
“It’s the Canadian championship and there should be eight strong teams. We have to take the draw as it is and see if we are the best. Last year we know where we failed.”
The Mohawk Mountaineers of Hamilton are seeded second and face the Tommies from Fredericton, N.B. at 5 p.m. (MST). The Humber Hawks of Toronto and the CBC Bearcats of Abbotsford, B.C., clash at 2 p.m. and the host Briercrest Bible College Clippers, who are ranked sixth, clash with the Douglas Royals of New Westminster, B.C. at 7 p.m.
The semifinals go Friday at 5 and 7 p.m. with the final Saturday at 7 p.m.
RDC veteran power hitter Tim Finnigan was honoured Wednesday as part of the All-Canadian team. He was in the running for player of the year in Canada, but the award went to a player from Ontario.
Meanwhile, the RDC Queens go into the women’s nationals today at Seneca College in Toronto ranked third and face the Capilano Blues of North Vancouver at 3 p.m. (EST). The winner will clash with the winner between the Vancouver Island Mariners of Nanaimo, B.C., and the Mount Saint Vincent Mystics of Halifax. The top-ranked Garneau Elans of Quebec City meet the Seneca Sting and the Humber Hawks clash with the Grande Prairie Wolves in the other two matches.