If you only read the headlines, and knew a little about Rebels football, you might have thought that past head coach John Cardilicchia was back at the helm, but far from the fact, the torch was handed to his son on Friday afternoon as the Westshore Rebels General Manager and VP of Operations Johnathan Poppit announced the hiring of Charly Cardilicchia as head man on the field for the 2017 Rebels season.
“We had a couple of great candidates which made our decision a difficult one, says Poppitt. We wanted to sure that the new Head Coach would have a good rapport with players and could continue the success that J.C. helped create over the past two years.”
ISN caught up with the new HC in an exclusive sit down to discuss his hiring only minutes after the news was released by the Westhore Rebels. Grinning ear to ear, it was evident Cardilicchia was ecstatic with the appointment.
When asked about his raising to the top coach position, Cardilicchia, sounding like fate may have played a hand, would confide, “ It’s kinda wild you know. Being away from the team for a little bit, then getting back involved after one season and having great success, and then JC stepping away for family, it kind of brings a reality to it, but in the same breath it reminds me that I have been doing this (involved in football) since I was seven years old in the city, three decades of playing and coaching football here. An opportunity like this after so much of my time committed…… I couldn’t ask for more.”
The jr. Cardilicchia, following in the family footsteps of his father John who first took a head coach position as a Rebel 19 years ago, brings almost 20 years of football coaching experience and knowledge to the team. Cardilicchia grew up locally playing local minor football, making his mark playing four seasons with the then newly formed BCFC Victoria Rebels of the junior football league, scoring the first ever TD for the team. He would later go on to play three years with the University of Manitoba Bison before settling into a coaching career.
Player turned coach, Cardilicchia has split his time coaching for the Saanich Wolverines Junior Bantam team, securing 12 championships, and earning him a lifetime achievement award from the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association. He was also the Head Coach of the Junior Bantam Renegades who won the 2016 Provincial Championship. Coach Cardilicchia has volunteered much of his time to football in Victoria over the years and also has 5-years’ experience as the Rebels Offensive Coach so he knows what it takes to win.
With the unexpected void left by the resignation of last years BCFC and CJFL head coach of the year Rebels JC Boice, the Westshore executive were quick to assemble a short list that included Cardilicchia. With news of Boice’s departure still resonating only three weeks old, some might have wondered if this turn of events may have been longer in coming to the surface ?
When asked if a head coaching position was on his radar, Cardilicchia was candid about putting his name in for the Rebels HC position. “ There was obviously no knowledge of JC Boice stepping down, but when that happened, that’s when things really started to become a reality as a possible opportunity to take a job like this. Looking back, JC and I had a sit down at the end of the season in December and talked about my role in coming back. He kind of hinted to me in a small way that he wasn’t 100% clear of his future direction with the team. I didn’t pay much mind at the time because after a season you can be pretty burnt out, but when he stepped down that conversation became clearer and after having a long discussion with my family I put my name into the hat.”
When asked about coming full circle and what he family legacy in the Rebels organization means to Cardilicchia he would say, “ It’s hard to put into words because you’re so connected to something emotionally and physically, and then to finally get to the point now where it has come full circle, with my kids playing football, myself playing on this junior team before, and now coaching them…..
I’m extremely connected to this program, so something like this brings me a great amount of joy to be able to have the opportunity to put my name on this program and put my stamp on pushing it forward as a program and not just as a team year to year.”
Coach Cardilicchia, looking to further shape the Rebels program with spring camp just around the corner, has already made some coaching additions to his team. Current BC Lions team member and Belmont grad Centre Tim O’Neil will act in a part time capacity as assistant offensive line coach to help OC Rob Smith with his duties on the Rebels side of the ball.
“JC Boice has done a lot of really great things for this organization. I want to build off of those things he has set as a foundation in a lot of ways and then carry that through. I’m super excited to work with the staff that I have, and if we can retain the talent on the roster I think we will have quite a team here.”
As was with Boice in his shift from CJFL and the Rebels, one’s gain can be another one’s loss. As the BCFC gains a new head coach, so will the Greater Victoria Minor Football Association loose a yearlong valued coaching asset in Cardilicchia. Coaching both spring and fall minor football teams, Cardilicchia has given notice that the 2017 spring season will be his last for the foreseeable future. Hoping to take on a more developmental role in both the community, the island, and in BC youth football, all while coaching the Rebels, Cardilicchia shows no signs of his passion for football slowing down.
Having a pulse on local, upcoming talent in the community, he is hoping to harness and further develop that future talent to the Westshore Rebels benefit. “ I excited about the local talent coming up in the next two or three years that I have been connected to in our spring and fall leagues, and the potential we could potentially bring to the Rebels.
In closing, Coach Cardilicchia would be posed what was thought to be a difficult question regarding past tradition and new style of play the Rebels, as an organization, would adopt moving forward under his mentorship. Without hesitation, and only coming from a voice that has a passion for his team and the game of football, Cardilicchia would comment, “ Our loyalty and family for years has made this team what it is so I don’t want to say there is going to be change, but I think this team is going now in a different direction than ever before. Our board is very strong. They want to win, and they’re prepared to give the resources to the program to win year after year.
We want to be a professional organization from top to bottom.”
-“Individual commitment to a group effort – that is what makes a team work, a company work, a society work, a civilization work. “
– Vince Lombardi