Daily Herald-Tribune

Sam Waterfield became collateral damage in the ownership change at his previous hockey club, with said event the first part of his story on how he joined the local junior team.

When Grande Prairie Storm Head Coach and GM Mike Vandekamp hired Waterfield as assistant coach in late May, the 29-year-old became an important hire in the second go-round for Vandekamp with the club.

?At the end of (last) year, with ownership and everything, contracts didn?t get renewed and we had new ownership and they chose to go their own way,? Waterfield said after on-ice drills at Revolution Place on Monday afternoon. ?I talked to a few teams in the off-season, and with Vandekamp coming up here, and our relationship when I was (coaching) junior on (the island and my) players affiliating with his club, I was (familiar with) his program.?

Last season, Waterfield was an assistant coach with the Coquitlam Express of the British Columbia Hockey league. He spent the previous two years as head coach and general manager of the Saanich Braves of the Vancouver Island Junior Hockey League.

Vandekamp was hired in early April, Waterfield signing up about seven weeks later.

?When he offered the contract it was a pretty easy decision,? Waterfield said.

Vandekamp had a clear vision of who he wanted behind the bench for the upcoming Alberta Junior Hockey League season.

?I created a bit of a checklist of things that were important to me, with who I was looking for to come and coach alongside me, and (Waterfield) checked off a lot of the boxes,? Vandekamp said. ?On top of that, I had known him before, a little bit, and he also (possessed) strong references from people I know and trust.?

And here are some of the boxes Waterfield checks off for the coach.

?He?s very technologically strong, which is very important, nowadays, for us,? Vandekamp said. ?(And) just the dedication and passion he has for the game. Also, I think it?s important to have a good feel for the personality of the person (because) you spend a lot of time together. I had a good feel about that.?

On the road

To get this far in coaching, Waterfield had to take ownership over his career, seeking out secondary opportunities to brighten and colour in his coaching horizon.

Prior to his three-year stint in B.C. junior hockey, the Victoria resident coached hockey with Vimy Ridge Academy in Edmonton during the 2016-17 academic year. He also spent time, in a volunteer capacity, with the Victoria Royals of the Western Hockey League.

Based on previous actions alone, it?s clear Waterfield desires a career in coaching and he was frank about his goals in this volatile business.

?Moving into a head coach or GM role somewhere in the Tier II would be a goal of mine down the road,? Waterfield said.

United for one theme

Both men have separate and defined roles on the bench, but they will deliver a message of togetherness.

?(We have a) typical coaching relationship, especially when it?s just a two-coaching system,? Waterfield said. ?The head coach usually takes the forwards and the assistant coach takes the defence. The biggest thing, once you walk out of the coaches office and into the dressing room, (there) has to be one message coming (from both us).?