(ISN) – Aug. 13: Bruce Wilson leaks the inside secrets behind 26 years of coaching
Interview conducted by Kira Starr, Vikes Communications
To anyone he has ever coached, University of Victoria Vikes men’s soccer head coach
Bruce Wilson will always be known as
Chief. We take an undercover look with the soccer playing and coaching legend just
before his 27th varsity season. This might seem like any other August pre-season,
but Chief, the 2014-15 season brings drastic structural changes to the league.
Soccer popularity has risen immensely in the past couple of years, and although
that’s good for the sport, Wilson can’t help but to reminisce on how the game once
Q: After 26 years of coaching with the Vikes men’s soccer program, what has been the
BW: By far the biggest change is the league structure. The teams that are in the
league and the format of the Canada West schedule have completely changed from the
1990s. I started coaching at UVic in 1988, back then and right through the 90s we
travelled, played many games throughout the season and had Canada West finals
followed by a CIS national championship. This year Canada West is no longer one
conference but two western leagues. Popularity of the game and sport is increasing
ten-fold and a lot of colleges are becoming degree-granting institutions. This is
great because we want to expand the sport but has changed it a lot for some of the
original university teams who began the league. Scheduling becomes an issue and
getting to CIS finals becomes a larger obstacle.
Q: Your passion for soccer seems to be just as strong as when you first started
coaching, what do you love about the game?
BW: I grew up playing organized soccer since I was six, which means I’ve been
involved with the sport for 57 years. I never actually played varsity when I
attended UBC, but then I went pro. From 1974-77 I played with the Whitecaps, 1978-79
with Chicago Sting, 1980 with New York Cosmo’s and 1981-84 with Toronto Blizzard’s.
I represented Canada between 1974-86 and had the privilege to captain Canada at the
1986 World Cup. Having the opportunities to play with all these teams only enhanced
my excitement. Soccer is what I do.
Q: Have the men’s and women’s teams always been so close knit?
BW: Tracy (David) became the Vikes women’s head coach in 2002. As my wife, it is
very natural for us to do things together and we want to do things together. What
kick-started the unison between the men’s and women’s teams was the Florida
off-season trip. Once Tracy came on board with the Vikes it was only natural we did
this trip together. It gave us some time together but also exposed both teams to
good soccer and nice weather, since it’s often rainy in Victoria. This off-season
trip is also a big recruiting opportunity. The teams weren’t always so close. The
men and women used to play at different levels so schedules were very different. Now
that the conferences are the same we travel together every weekend. It is good for
the teams to know each other, especially since we train right after one another.
All-in-all it works out pretty well for both teams.
Q: What quality(s) do you respect most about Tracy?
BW: Tracy has to be the most competitive person I know. She has also played the game
for a very long time at a very high level. She understands the game and loves the
game for all it is worth. Tracy brings all of her passion to coaching and giving
back to those girls. Her competitive spirit lights a fire under her teams and got
her to where she is today. If it weren’t for her passion there wouldn’t be a
Canadian university women’s soccer league. That passion also follows us home – we
get to support one another when there are defeats and have big parties when we both
Q: What has been the longest running tradition with the Vikes men’s soccer team?
BW: I’d have to say the yellow jersey. Since I started coaching here at UVic, the
yellow jersey has been given out during practices. It is given to a player who had a
bad training session the day before. I like it because the boy’s use it as something
fun during a competitive season and it keeps everyone accountable. The boys are
quick to point out and joke around when someone makes a lousy mistake. I pick the
player who will receive the yellow jersey. I think it keeps practice lively but
obviously no one wants the yellow jersey.
Q: Where did the yellow jersey come from?
BW: It was an old yellow goalkeeper jersey just kicking around. We had the extra
jersey and I started the tradition.
Q: So, where did the nickname Chief come from?
BW: Oh man, I guess I’ve always been Chief. It started in my first year coaching
with the Vikes. It certainly has stuck hasn’t it? I’m known as Chief to other teams
and the community.
Q: What’s something unique about the men’s soccer team?
BW: We are one of the few Vikes teams to implement a strict, professional dress code
when we travel. To me it represents a sense of professionalism. We train
professionally five times a week so why not look and feel professional all the time.
We represent a high level team and a university. That stuff is important. For 27
years I have enforced a dress code – dress shirt, dress pants, tie and proper shoes.
Players don’t questions it anymore. It’s what we do. When we go on the road it’s
good to want to translate that professionalism onto the playing field.
The Vikes men’s soccer team are currently underway with their trial process with a
few exhibition games set to test the squad out before their home openers on Sept.
5-6 against UBC and Trinity Western, respectively.