By Michiko Araki
Jay Prepchuk, head coach of the Handsworth Royals football team, has been shortlisted as a finalist for the 2014 NFL Youth Coach of the Year award as announced by the NFL on Wednesday.
The award, now in its 16th year, recognizes community or high school level coaches who dedicate themselves to the development of young players on and off the field.
Shortly after the announcement was made, Coach Prepchuk took the time to speak with me despite his busy schedule working as a counselor at Handsworth Secondary.
“I’m very honoured and privileged to be a finalist. It’s almost hard to believe,” said Jay, who was the only BC coach to make the finalist list consisting of only ten coaches across Canada.
Prepchuk, who first started coaching in grade 11 with the Handsworth junior varsity team, credits his love for coaching to Dave Pearce, a football coach at Handsworth at the time. After his first taste of coaching, Jay never looked back and his love for coaching blossomed over the years.
Although his team has faced some adversity this season, his players are still as determined as ever.
“We have some excellent young players coming into the program,” explained Jay. “They’re already excited for next season and looking ahead.”
What really stuck me about Coach Prepchuk was his humble attitude towards being recognized among hundreds, even thousands, of coaches and nominees across Canada. He credits the coaches around him who he learns from everyday, as well as the players, support staff, parents, and the administration at Handsworth Secondary.
He explained that in football, there is no such thing as individual success, and is grateful for the opportunities he has had as a coach with the support he’s had over the years.
Earlier this year, Jay was also named the new U18 Team BC head coach. With the final cut-down camp fast approaching on December 13, he, along with his coaching staff, will have the difficult task of going over the list of prospects to select the final squad for the trip to the Tanoa Bowl in Auburn, Washington in late December.
For those players who make the team, Jay has some wise words of advice.
“Continue to stay in shape in the off season, and come out ready to represent Team BC and Canada”, said Jay. “It’s a Canadian pride thing just as much as it is a BC pride thing. We’re going to be the only Canadian team there, so we want everyone to come out excited to be a part of it.”
Congratulations on being selected as a finalist, Coach Prepchuk, and thank you for all that you’ve done for football in the province!