Stefan Labrecque is returning to the Red Deer College Kings bench, this time in a leading role.
Labrecque was officially named Monday as interim head coach of the basketball Kings. He will replace Craig Behan, who has taken a one-year leave to serve as a men’s basketball assistant coach at the University of Victoria for the 2010-11 CIS season.
Labrecque has coached at the club, high school and college levels for the past 15 years. He teaches at Notre Dame high school and has been head coach of the Cougars senior boys’ basketball team since leaving his four-year post as an assistant to Behan at RDC in 2006.
With his knowledge of college basketball and the Kings program, in particular, Labrecque is confident that he won’t be overwhelmed with the pressures of his new position.
“There’s a sense of comfort because I was there before. Plus, I’ve talked to Behan quite a bit since I left RDC and we’ve bounced ideas off of each other and discussed problems that we’ve had with our respective programs,” he said.
“Hopefully the learning curve isn’t too steep, hopefully it’s a smooth transition. I know the support will be there. The people at the college are just amazing. I was there this morning and they make you feel right at home.
They’re accommodating and they want you to be successful. That’s a huge weight off of anybody’s shoulders coming into a new job.”
Labrecque is clear on the differences between coaching at the high school and college levels.
“In high school you get really good athletes and you try to make them for the time being into basketball players for their seasonal play,” he said.
“I think once you get to college you have basketball players and they’re truly passionate about that sport and just that sport in particular, and they put all their energies into it.
“As a high school coach, you really have no choice as to who kind of comes into your program. You just try and take the best athletes that you have in your school and put together the best team that you can.”
Along with Behan, the Kings interim sideline boss has worked behind the scenes in a recruiting role this summer.
“We’ve been working really hard trying to bring in a good group of players,” he said. “With this being a junior college, you’re always having guys move on.”
Among the Kings players slated to return for the new season are Eric Bakker and Lloyd Strickland, who both played major roles with the team in 2009-10.
As well, Jordan Stevens, who red-shirted last season, will be back, and Toronto native Eddy Sanchez will return after the Christmas break.
“I’m still getting acquainted with the players who were on the roster last year and I think we have an outstanding group of kids coming in, including some who have played at a post-secondary level,” said Labrecque, who has worked as a development coach with Basketball Canada and Basketball Alberta in recent years.
Labrecque will continue to teach at Notre Dame.
His replacement as the Cougars head coach has yet to be determined.