After just one season as Notre Dame Jr. Cougars head coach, Justin Flunder was named the best bantam football coach in the province.
Football Alberta will honour Flunder as the Bantam Coach of the Year at the Senior Bowl Banquet in Edmonton Sunday, a day before the Senior Bowl North vs. South Provincial High School Football All-Star Game.
Flunder said he was shocked he won the award.
“It was the icing on the cake for this year. We had such a good football team and a great culture,” he said.
The Notre Dame Jr. Cougars won the Central Alberta League Championship and was the first-ever team outside Calgary and Edmonton to win the Provincial Tier II Championship.
“I can’t ask for anything better than that. It was just an absolute joy,” said Flunder.
“The last few years it’s been pretty rough going (for the Jr. Cougars). I was coming in thinking if we can just get to the playoffs I would be happy and the best (scenario) would be winning a championship for Central Alberta. Then we just kept surprising everybody.”
The Cougars went 1-6 the season before Flunder became head coach.
Flunder said he coached minor football for many years before joining Notre Dame. He wanted to coach the team because his son Jaxyn was playing for it.
As a coach, Flunder said he believes in communication and relationship building.
“If you build relationships with your players they’ll play hard for themselves, for their coaches and for their parents. Really there’s not much you can’t do with that,” he said.
Flunder said he has no expectations for next season other than wanting his players to give 100 per cent and to continue building team culture
“I’d be happy with being one of the frontrunners for our league, but that’s not always the biggest measurement of how successful a team is,” he said.
Originally from Saskatchewan, Flunder played football through high school. He said it’s a sport that he’s always loved.
“I always saw football as a total team sport … and of course we’re big Rider fans. I love the CFL and the NFL, and all three of my boys play. It’s a big football family,” he said.
Away from the football field, Flunder is a high performance executive leadership coach.