It took close to a decade but Jedell Foster finally made it to Red Deer.
Foster was recruited by RDC Kings basketball head coach Clayton Pottinger in 2015, but the Hamilton, Ont., native decided to attend Crandell University in Moncton, N.B.
“It was a mistake, I should have came here,” he said. “It didn’t work out that way, but I finally made it.”
Jedell was named Kings head coach in June, replacing Darren Graham, who turned in his resignation following last season because of family and time commitments.
Foster moved to Red Deer after spending the last two seasons as head coach of Fleming College in Peterborough, Ont.
Foster can thank Pottinger for the opportunity to move to Red Deer.
“Clayton recruited one of my players from Fleming and I was talking with him about an assistant coaching position.
“But he had already hired two assistants and split up the money so there wasn’t that much available.”
But Pottinger, who was one of the premier college coaches in the country while at RDC, kept Foster in mind when he heard about the opening at RDP.
“He gave me a call and asked if I was still interested in moving,” Jedell explained. “I said if it was the right move and he told me about Red Deer and I should look into it as it was a great city and school.
“I applied and was blessed that Randy (Manager of Athletics and Student Life, Stewart) saw my abilities as a young head coach. All my references were powerful and he gave me the opportunity to be here and I’m thankful for it.”
Jedell didn’t have a deep post-secondary playing career as he ran into a string of three ACL injuries, forcing him to miss all but 12 games.
He also didn’t admire his college coaches, one of the reasons he decided to take up coaching.
“I had a lot of bad coaches and I got into it to be better than them,” he said with a laugh.
“I had to admit I wasn’t fond of it at first, but I fell in love with it because of my competitive edge.”
“I’m a very competitive person and I love competing, the development of the young athletes and seeing them grow over a short period of time.”
Jedell, who turns 31 on Tuesday, started his coaching career as an assistant coach at the Prep school in Ontario. He spent only one year as an assistant before moving to take over as a head coach.
He eventually ended up at Halton Prep in Oakville, Ont. where he developed several of the top high school recruits in the country. In fact, Marlon Lestin, who was ranked No. 5 in Canada coming out of high school, moved on to NCAA Division I Murray State.
“Overall I had seven players go on to post-secondary institutions,” he said.
“I kind of built my name off that and halfway through the following season Fleming offered me a head coaching job, which I jumped at.”
He had success at Fleming, but was commuting two hours each way every day, which took its toll.
“That was a tough grind, but it set me up to move on to here,” he said.
Jedell arrived in Red Deer early in August and couldn’t be more impressed.
“With these facilities and the backing I have already received from Randy and the athletic staff I’m ready to hit the ground running. It was also great to see the other coaches and their success. They have a winning background here and that pushes me to put together a prestigious program as well.”
Before stepping away Graham did his recruiting. Jedell has added to that.
“I’ve recruited five players out of Ontario and coach Darren had several others coming in as well.”
The three Brazilian imports, including first-team all-conference Eduardo Crespo, are returning along with several other veterans.
Jedell has also spent a number of hours talking with Graham.
“I joke he’s my second dad,” he said laughing. “He’s been great. We talk almost every day and he’s helped me a lot, he’s been a blessing, I’m not sure where I’d be without him.”
However, Jedell has his own style of play.
“I want to institute a run and gun style, run a full court press and zone trap defence … an entertaining style of play. A new brand of basketball that hopefully fans love.
“I want to put together a program that makes the (school) and the city proud.”
Jedell has his own style of coaching, but isn’t about to not listen to others.
“I’m a sponge … I’ll listen to anyone who takes the time to mentor me. I know a lot, but not all, so I’m all ears.”
Jedell, who has Jesse Bonsu returning as an assistant coach, hopes to open camp next week.
“Some of the guys are coming in around the 31st and some Sept. 1, so it will be after that we have everyone in camp,” he said. “I hope everyone is preparing. We’re going to do a lot of running and conditioning to be ready to play a high-tempo game.”
The Kings have several preseason games on tap with their regular season opener Oct. 20 at home to the defending champion SAIT Trojans.
Danny Rode is a retired Advocate reporter and member of the Alberta Sports Hall of Fame who can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org