Over the past 50 years of writing about RDC and now Red Deer Polytechnic Athletics, I can never remember a coaching change in the middle of the season.
That all changed this year when Queens’ basketball head coach Mandy Botham resigned during the Christmas break.
Luckily those in command didn’t have far to look to find more than a reliable replacement.
Long-time Notre Dame coach Ed Major, who was an assistant coach with RDP Kings basketball squad this season, was asked if he was interested and he jumped at the idea.
“I’m not sure exactly how my name came up, but Darren (Kings head coach Graham) mentioned my name came up as a possible solution and it sounded good to me,” he explained.
“Randy (athletics manager Stewart) phoned me and asked if I was interested … we set up a time for an interview and it went from there.”
Ed has been involved in basketball for the majority of his 53 years, whether as a player or a coach. He’s been on the bench for both girls and boys at the high school junior and senior level and having worked with Graham and the Kings, knows what it takes to play in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference. He’s also spent time watching the Queens.
“I’ve seen them play on a number of occasions and liked what I saw … they have a very competitive group. They’re 3-3 and could be 5-1 so they’re right there.”
Ed has been in contact with veteran and team leader, Amy Szymanek, and sent out contacts emails to the rest of the team.
“I sent a survey to the girls and asked them what they thought was working and what was not,” he said. “For the most part, they were all on the same page. But really there’s not a lot of time to be changing things and so I’ll use what Mandy used before and just add a bit of my own thoughts.
“My philosophy is to play an up-tempo game with 94-feet of action. The thing we’ll work on is on the defensive side and that’s what I’ve heard from the girls as well. And that’s just a matter of attitude and effort.”
Major expects almost the players to return, although import Meja Lundberg may be the exception.
Ed believes his time working with the Kings this season will only make the transition to the Queens easier.
“They know who I am, which is a plus, and they can talk with the guys about what I’m about,” he said.
Major was born and rained in Camrose and played for the Augustana Vikings for two years prior to switching to SAIT for two years. He got a degree in accounting, but that just never did sit right with him.
“I always wanted to be a teacher and coach and after a bit, found accounting too boring,” he said with a laugh.
He received his teaching degree at the University of Alberta and taught in Eckville before moving to Vancouver where he met his wife Georgia.
“I taught and coached in North Vancouver, before I moved to Red Deer and Notre Dame.”
He coached junior and senior girls at Notre Dame before getting into coaching and refereeing football. But he returned to his first love of basketball and has since coached the senior boys and girls and now junior boys.
He’s helped coach his eldest daughter Jaylene, his son Trey as well as his youngest daughter Rayelle with the school and club programs.
Ed signed a four-month contract, which started on Tuesday. His first official practice is slated for Monday with their first game Jan. 14 at home against St. Mary’s. It all depends on Covid of course.
“Hopefully things work out and there are no more delays,” said Major, who is still looking for an assistant coach.
“J’Anna (Aitchison) isn’t returning so I’m on my own at the time,” he said. “I’d like to find someone for sure but it’s tough because everyone has other commitments at this time of the year. We’ll see.”
Although nothing is for sure after this season, Ed is looking forward to the future.
“As of now I’m on an interim basis,” he said. “At the end of the year they put out an official job offer and I can put my name in if I so desire.”
He is excited to see what will turn out and even on the recruiting side.
“The last month or so of my contract will involved recruiting and while I’ve never done anything like that before I’m kind of excited about it., especially going to provincials and looking to continue to build this program.”
He indicated he’ll talk with Graham and former RDC Kings coach Clayton Pottinger about recruiting.
“I’m in contact with Clay and of course Darren and will talk with them about their thoughts and about forming other contacts.”
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org