UBC Okanagan Director of Athletics Tom Huisman announced today that Clayton Pottinger has been named the new head coach of the men’s basketball program.
A husband and father, the current Head Coach and tenured professor at Red Deer College will be moving his family to Kelowna to assume the helm of the Heat men’s basketball program, taking over the position from interim head coach Ken Olynyk. Pottinger will officially begin his coaching duties May 15, but has already begun his transition and will attend UBCO’s annual Athletic Scholarship Breakfast on April 5.
“It must be shared that we wouldn’t have attracted such a deep and incredible pool of candidates for this position without having benefitted from the coaching leadership of Ken Olynyk and Thom Gillespie over the past season,” stated Huisman. “The job they did for us in this interim year was outstanding and demonstrated the potential of what we have here at UBCO, and contributed immensely to catching the eye and interest of so many high calibre coaches.”
“These are very exciting times for basketball at UBCO and also for the Okanagan,” continued the UBCO AD. “Following our recent appointment of Bobby Mitchell to lead the women’s program, we now have in Clay a coach educator and leader whose mindset, passion and experience with the game is not just about coaching a team, but about building a program and engaging the community in what we do on and off campus. Yes, we aim to become a successful and Championship-contending program, but we also intend on doing so while contributing to the growth and development of the game throughout Kelowna and the Okanagan.”
“Lots of places have basketball teams, I want to build a basketball program. A comprehensive program that focuses on recruitment, local development, and retention. I see a great opportunity here to do just that,” a passionate and excited Pottinger stated. “I believe these principles will lead to our enduring success.”
“I have a great position here at Red Deer College – one I wouldn’t leave for just any opportunity. But Kelowna is a city near and dear to us. We love it so much. We got married there and we still have friends and family in the area; so when this opportunity came up, we jumped on it. My whole family is excited about it,” finished Pottinger, relaying why the Okanagan will be a great place for his family and how the Valley is already a special place to him.
Pottinger comes to UBCO from a highly successful eight year run with Red Deer College in the Alberta Colleges Athletic Conference (ACAC), where he compiled a gaudy 137-41 record for the Kings and led his team to two ACAC conference titles and three national championship berths, coming home with a national silver medal in 2014, the same year he was named the Canadian Collegiate Athletic Association coach of the year.
Pottinger, a graduate of the University of Alberta, captained the 1993-94 Golden Bears team that won Alberta’s first men’s basketball national championship. That team had strong Okanagan ties as two Kelowna Secondary graduates, Jay Johnstone and Marc Semeniuk, also wore the green and gold for the Bears with Pottinger. Following his playing days, Pottinger served as an assistant coach with the UofA, assistant coach and director of player development for the Edmonton Chill professional basketball club, statistical analyst of Canada Basketball’s Cadet National Team, head coach of King’s University and Douglas College, and guided Team Alberta to its best finish at the Canada Games in 2017 with a silver medal.
A Bachelor of Education from UofA has been followed up with a Master’s degree in coaching studies from the University of Victoria’s National Coaching Institute. Along with his coaching duties, Pottinger is currently a kinesiology instructor at Red Deer College, allowing him to be a full-time educator and coach.
This love of basketball and teaching will be a key, as the lifelong basketball educator will look to also rebuild the Junior Heat basketball club program in Kelowna and the Okanagan region. Developing grassroots basketball, not just players, but coaches, and officials, and will be a strong foundation for the varsity program and basketball as a sport in the Okanagan.