Broncos turn to Olthuis as head coach

GREGG DRINNAN / Kamloops Daily News
February 17, 2011 01:00 AM

Duncan Olthuis knows the hill is steep. But he is prepared to put on his climbing boots and have a go at it.

Olthuis, 31, is the new head coach of the B.C. Football Conference's Kamloops Broncos, the local junior team that has won eight of 40 games over its four seasons of existence.

Olthuis replaces Rob Ellis, who now is the Broncos' recruiting co-ordinator. The Broncos were 5-15 in Ellis's two seasons as head coach.

"It's going to be very tough but we'll see what we can do," Olthuis said Wednesday night.

Last season, Olthuis, who spent nine seasons as head coach of the South Kamloops Secondary junior football program, was the Broncos' co-defensive co-ordinator, sharing those responsibilities with Ken Walcott.

The Broncos' website shows a 16-man coaching staff from last season and Olthuis said he "would love to have them all back." He added that he hasn't heard from anyone who isn't interested in returning.

He has one slot filled as Darryl Chow is on board as assistant head coach.

"He's helping me ease into the role, helping me out with the day-to-day and stuff like that," Olthuis explained.

The priorities right now, he added, are "getting the coaching positions in place, contacting all the players and getting ready for spring."

That would be spring camp, that is scheduled for May 7 and 8, likely at Hillside Stadium.

Olthuis is the son of Brian Olthuis, perhaps the most well-known football coach from this city. But, Duncan said, his desire to coach the Broncos was all his.

"He has always encouraged me," Duncan stated, "but it was my decision to apply for the job."

A linebacker and tight end during his high school playing days, Olthuis spent one season as a linebacker with the Okanagan Sun and a year playing the same position with the U of Saskatchewan Huskies. In 2001, he played as a defensive end with the Kamloops Cowboys, who went 1-9 in their first of three BCFC seasons.

Olthuis also is well aware that taking over as head coach of a team that was 3-7 last season is "a pretty big step up."

Still, Olthuis is sure that he saw progress last season as the Broncos won more and lost less than in their previous three seasons.

"If you look at last year, we had our most wins ever," he said. "We hope to keep on building from that."

What makes things tougher is that the team in Kelowna - the Okanagan Sun - is one of the country's top junior franchises, and the Kamloops' minor football program is in its infancy.

"The Okanagan Sun has been around for a long time and they've had great success," Olthuis said. "We just want to get to that point some day.

"And hopefully Kamloops gets back to where it was in the 1980s and '90s when it was a football town. Hopefully, in a couple of years, we'll be able to survive off Kamloops kids."

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