Bill Rotheisier is the new coach and general manager of the Castlegar Rebels.
For the past year he’s been the associate coach in Creston and now he’s in Castlegar, meeting the Rebels and working out a strategy for next season. Rotheisier is working on making contact with the players and establishing relationships with them.
“We’ve talked to about three-quarters of them on the phone and got to know each other, and they seem like a really great bunch of guys,” says Rotheisier.
Asked if it’s hard coming in as a new coach during the off-season, he says, “No, it’s fun. It’s definitely technically harder work, like the next off-season there’s some momentum going and it sort of feeds into itself. So in the first season there’s definitely a lot of work, but it’s exciting.”
So far Rotheisier thinks the team is in good shape.
“I think we’re starting in a really good place. I think we’ve got a good core coming back. There’s obviously some guys that were pretty good moving on, but our secondary scorers that we had last year are definitely ready to step up and we’ve some recruits that will be coming in and filling in some holes,” Rotheisier says. “So I feel really good.”
Though Rotheisier says it’s inevitable that he’ll be making some changes, he’s not ready to announce anything yet.
“We’ve got to be really diligent of our choices and know before we do make a move or a signing or release, or whatever we’re going to do, that we know what we’re doing, so that it’s not blind,” says Rotheisier. “We’re not looking back in two weeks going, ‘You know that was a pretty good player that we let go’ or ‘That was a pretty good situation and he was good in the dressing room’ or so forth.”
New coach had no plans for coaching career
Rotheisier got into coaching after he quit playing hockey and started working at a SportChek, where his boss asked him to coach her Senior AAA women’s team.
“She asked if I could come out and help and I thought, ‘OK sure. It’s my boss, I should probably say yes.’ So I went out and their coach didn’t show up,” says Rotheisier. “I’d never thought about coaching in my life and so I was kind of like ‘OK, well I remember some drills and stuff.’”
It turned out that the team’s coach had quit, so Rotheisier became the 19-year-old coach for a team with players between 19 and 25 years old. He eventually ended up working for the Okanagan Hockey Academy in Penticton as an instructor, getting paid to coach, though he’d never really planned on coaching as a career.
“I’ve been doing this full time for nine or ten year, so it was about that long ago where all of a sudden I realized that this was actually a career,” says Rotheisier. “But it kind of snuck up on me as a career. It was a hobby for so long that all of a sudden you look around and realize you’re making a living doing it.”
Before moving to Creston, Rotheisier was head coach and GM in Princeton, the first coaching job he had outside the Okanagan Hockey Academy. Robert Dirk, Richard Kromm and others from the academy are still among his coaching influences.
“Basically the whole Okanagan hockey school crew when I was younger. There are a lot of people that helped me because I was the young guy in [a group of] older guys and they really brought me along and taught me a lot of stuff,” Rotheisier says. “They were really the ones that pushed it in the direction of a career versus hobby for me.”